Posted by: Democratic Thinker | October 15, 2009

First Law of Nature

Natural Rights

St. George Tucker, a Revolutionary War commander and lawyer from Virginia, comments on the absolute right to self defense as it relates to the recently adopted U.S. Constitution.

Self Defence is the First Law of Nature

St. George Tucker

8. A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep, and bear arms, shall not be infringed. Amendments to C.U.S. Art. 4.

This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty …. The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction. In England, the people have been disarmed, generally, under the specious pretext of preserving the game: a never failing lure to bring over the landed aristocracy to support any measure, under that mask, though calculated for very different purposes. True it is, their bill of rights seems at first view to counteract this policy: but the right of bearing arms is confined to protestants, and the words suitable to their condition and degree, have been interpreted to authorise the prohibition of keeping a gun or other engine for the destruction of game, to any farmer, or inferior tradesman, or other person not qualified to kill game. So that not one man in five hundred can keep a gun in his house without being subject to a penalty.

—Blackstone’s Commentaries (1803), Note D, §12 “Restraints on Powers of Congress”.