This sentence comes from Thomas Jefferson's three drafts of the Virginia Constitution. The text varies slightly from the first draft to the subsequent drafts:
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 "No freeman shall ever be debarred..." 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." The latter sentence does not appear in the Virginia Constitution drafts or text as adopted, nor in any other known Jefferson writings.
*Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Jefferson Quotes and Family Letters Database. Jefferson quotes vetted by the editors of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series.
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