Thomas Jefferson Carried Pocket Pistols Without a Permit


Thomas Jefferson was an admirer of the writings of Cesare Beccaria (1738–1794). Jefferson often wrote passages word for word from Beccaria in a Commonplace Book (a journal). One such passage was a denouncement of laws which forbid di portor le armi, in other words, “to forbid the bearing, carrying or wearing of arms.”

At the end of this rather lengthy passage was the money quotation, as it were copied from Beccaria’s An Essay on Crimes & Punishments:

“Does the execution of this law deprive the subject of that personal liberty, so dear to mankind and to the wise legislator; and does it not subject the innocent to all the disagreeable circumstances that should only fall on the guilty? It certainly makes the situation of the assaulted worse, and of the assailants better, and rather encourages than prevents murder, as it requires less courage to attack unarmed than armed.”

Beccaria’s passage was the source in Jefferson’s proposed Virginia Constitution of 1776:

“No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”

Read the rest at Political Outcast

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