Saturday, August 03, 2013

"the right of the citizens to bear arms and have arms in their homes if they so desire."

Treasurer Lennon* of the federation said in part:


   You are cited to the fact that the constitution of the United States contains a clause as to the right of the citizens to bear arms, which shall not be abridged. Does this convention desire to go on record as being opposed to that fundamental declaration of the constitution, which we recognize as being an absolute necessity for the maintenance of a free government on the face of the earth? It is true that the use of the militia is abused. Why were not the resolutions drawn along those lines, where perhaps all might coincide? Go broadcast about this country as you will and what do you find? We find the young men of all our crafts. In a small number at least, in the militia. Why are they there? Because of their social environments; because of the fact again that the physical training that is acquired in the militia is in a sense beneficial. The use of the militia as it is used is the thing to complain of, not the fact that there is a militia, not the fact that the Government of the United States and of the various States has organized a militia for the preservation of peace.

   Do we desire to take a stand that law and order are not to be maintained in our respective States? I do not propose to take any such stand. I have been in the trades union movement in Colorado in hotter times than have recently existed in that State and I never came in contact with the militia, although they were called out and were stationed along the Rio Grande Railroad from one end of it to the other.

   We conducted a strike there as well as it could be conducted under the then existing circumstances and yet without contact with the militia. I realize full well how often and how grievously the militia has been misused, but I am not prepared to vote against the declaration in the constitution of the United States in favor of abridging the right of the citizens to bear arms and have arms in their homes if they so desire.

[The San Francisco Call, San Francisco, Wednesday, November 23, 1904. Volume XCVI--No. 176. Pg. 16]
* - John Brown Lennon, Oct. 12, 1850 - Jan. 18, 1923, was an American labor union leader and general-secretary of the Journeyman Tailors Union of America. In 1890, he was elected treasurer of the American Federation of Labor and served in that capacity until 1917. During World War I, he was appointed by Woodrow Wilson to the U.S. Department of Labor's board of mediators and Commission of Conciliation, and also served on the U.S. Commission of Industrial Relations.

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