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I am going prove to you that the right to bear arms is an individual right … AND a collective right:

Federalist Paper No. 84, by Alexander Hamilton, states:

I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous.

They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted.

For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?

Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed?

I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for claiming that power.


They might urge with a semblance of reason, that the Constitution ought not to be charged with the absurdity of providing against the abuse of an authority which was not given, and that the provision against restraining the liberty of the press afforded a clear implication, that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it was intended to be vested in the national government. This may serve as a specimen of the numerous handles which would be given to the doctrine of constructive powers, by the indulgence of an injudicious zeal for bills of rights.

Now, note that Hamilton says: “Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed?”

Hamilton could have very well said: “Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty to keep and bear arms shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed?”

The same can be said for religion.

Where do you find delegated authority and restrictions? In the Constitution. Where in the Constitution does anyone read where power is given by which restrictions may be imposed on the right of individuals to keep and bear arms?

Hamilton was not really “anti-Bill of Rights.” His argument was that, if the Bill of Rights were added to the Constitution, it would: “… furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for claiming that power. That they … “might urge with a semblance of reason, that the Constitution ought not to be charged with the absurdity of providing against the abuse of an authority which was not given, and that the provision against restraining the liberty of the press afforded a clear implication, that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it was intended to be vested in the national government.”

If it is not restricted by the Constitution … nor delegated by the same … there is absolutely no power.

Now, I ask all of you in good faith, can you find anywhere in the Constitution where power is given by which restrictions may be imposed on the right of individuals to keep and bear arms?

Unfortunately, Hamilton’s worst fears concerning a Bill of Rights have come to light.

C. Cope



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