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Free men do not ask permission to bear arms (Spurious Quotation)

Quotation: "Free men do not ask permission to bear arms."

Variations: None known.

Sources consulted:

  1. Founders Online
  2. Thomas Jefferson Retirement Papers
  3. Google/Google Books
  4. Hathi Trust
  5. Access Newspaper Archive

Earliest appearance in print: J.S. McCrea, letter to the editor, Medicine Hat (Alberta) News, January 6, 2001.

Earliest appearance in print, attributed to Thomas Jefferson: This quotation has never been attributed to Thomas Jefferson in print media; all attributions have appeared on Internet sites.

Other attributions: Glen Aldrich

Comments: This quotation has not been found in the writings of Thomas Jefferson.  It very often appears as part of a numbered list, often titled "Firearms Refresher Course"; most of the statements on the list are unattributed, but the list sometimes appears with the spurious Jefferson quotation "Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not" at the head of the list.  This may have resulted in the erroneous attribution of other items on the list to Jefferson.  The author of the letter cited above implies that he obtained the list from "an old friend in the United States," so the quotation would appear to date from before 2001, although no earlier appearances in print have been found.

- Anna Berkes, 7/8/15

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