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A letter in today’s Financial Times draws attention to a shopworn “quote” that’s often attributed to Thomas Jefferson (right) and used to buttress arguments for a broad application of the right to bear arms (or brandish automatic weapons). The letter-writer (Dennis Oveis of Tampa, Fla.) takes a previous letter-writer to task for invoking what that previous letter-writer called a “timeless quote from Thomas Jefferson.” The alleged statement is:

The beauty of the second amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.

Oveis checked with web site for Jefferson’s Monticello for help in authenticating the quote. The site says:

We currently have no evidence that Thomas Jefferson said or wrote ‘The beauty of the second amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it’ or any of its listed variations.

Wikipedia’s entry on the Second Amendment says the quotation is one of many misattributed to Jefferson. It says the quote can’t be found before 2007, the year it surfaced in a book by Matt Carson, On A Hill They Call Capital: A Revolution Is Coming.

7 Responses to “Jefferson’s Second-Amendment “Quote” Demands a Second Opinion”

  1. Paul says:

    Sounds like something made up fairly recently and attributed to Jefferson incorrectly!

  2. Paul says:

    Sounds very much like a modern quote made up to serve the purposes of the gun toting amongst us.

  3. Diane says:

    The language and phrasing used in this quote is decidedly not of 18th-century origins. “The *beauty of..” “until THEY take it away”? Nup. 20th c. quote.

  4. Greg says:

    Quoting people accurately is really hard — and you can quote me on that.

    a shopworn “quote” that’s often attributed to Thomas Jefferson (right) and used to buttress arguments for a broad application of the right to bear arms (or brandish automatic weapons).

    Well you are not quoting the sentiments of law abiding gun owners or gun owner organizations by claiming we want to brandish automatic weapons now are you.

  5. Robert says:

    The beauty of the 2nd amendment is that you do not have to justify to anyone, that if you are an American citizen, you have the right to bear arms, period.

  6. John says:

    Whether or not TJ actually made this statement, I like it!

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