This sentence comes from Thomas Jefferson's three drafts of the Virginia Constitution. The text does vary slightly in each draft:
First Draft: "No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms."
Second Draft: "No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms [within his own lands or tenements]."
Third Draft: "No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms [within his own lands or tenements]"
This sentence does not appear in the Virginia Constitution as adopted.
Note: This sentence is often seen paired with the following: "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." That sentence does not appear in the Virginia Constitution drafts or text as adopted, nor in any other Jefferson writings that we know of.
- ↑ PTJ 1:344.
- ↑ Ibid., 353. The portion of the sentence in brackets is a "conjectural reading for missing or illegible matter," according to the editorial practice of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson staff.
- ↑ Ibid., 363.