Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jefferson and Gun Control [edited]

The laws ... which forbid to wear arms, disarming those only who are not disposed to commit the crime which the laws mean to prevent. ... 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 persons.
Cesare Beccaria (1764, Essay on Crimes and Punishments)

A similar quote is often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, but he merely included the above passage in his "Legal Commonplace" Book.  That quote that is often attributed to him is below.  Thanks to "Josh" in the comments section for bring this to my attention.
Laws that forbid the carrying of arms ... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. ... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.


  1. It appears this is not actually a Jefferson quote, though it most certainly does reflect his sentiment.

  2. Thanks Josh, I've updated the entry. I appreciate it.