FACT CHECK: Did Thomas Jefferson Say People Need The Right To Bear Arms ‘As A Last Resort’ Against Tyranny?

Aryssa Damron | Fact Check Reporter

The Facebook page Gun Facts claimed that President Thomas Jefferson once said, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

“Arms evolve, the right remains the same,” the image of two guns crossing barrels reads.

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that Jefferson ever said this. His estate at Monticello calls the saying a “spurious quotation.”

Fact Check:

In an attempt to promote the 2nd Amendment, the Facebook page relies on the authority of Jefferson, a revered founding father, for support. However, the expression does not appear in a database of Jefferson’s quotes and letters, and neither does it appear in the “Papers of Thomas Jefferson.”

“This quotation has not been found in any of the writings of Thomas Jefferson,” reads the Monticello website, tracing the first known appearance in print back to a 1989 article in The Orlando Sentinel.

According to Research Librarian Anna Berkes, the misattributed quote is sometimes prefaced with the sentence, “No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” Jefferson did write that in a first draft of the Virginia Constitution. The phrase was not included in the adopted version of that constitution.

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Aryssa Damron

Fact Check Reporter


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