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Commentaries From the Ratifying Conventions

Following are a collection of commentaries from some of the ratifying conventions which address the right to keep and bear arms:

A Minority Statement of the Pennsylvania Convention
December 12, 1787

That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and their own state, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game: and no law shall be passed for disarming the people or any of them, unless for crimes committed, or real danger of public injury from individuals.

From the Debates of the Massachusetts Convention
February 6, 1788

And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the right of the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.

From the New Hampshire Ratification Convention
June 21, 1788

Congress shall never disarm any citizen, unless such as are or have been in actual rebellion.

From the Virginia Convention
June 27, 1788

17th. That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that, in all cases, the military should be under the strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power. 

From the New York Convention
July 7, 1788

That the militia should always be kept well organized, armed, and disciplined, and include, according to past usages of the states, all the men capable of bearing arms, and that no regulations tending to render the general militia useless and defenceless, by establishing select corps of militia, of distinct bodies of military men, not having permanent interests and attachments to the community, ought to be made.

From the New York Convention
July 26, 1788

That the people have the right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated militia,, including the body of the people capable of bearing arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state.

From the Rhode Island Ratification Convention
May 29, 1790

XVII. That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well-regulated militia, including the body of people capable of bearing arms. is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state.