which declares the right of the people to keep and bear arms
Legislature of New-York. . . .
. . . Friday, Sept. 14. . . .
. . . Assembly.–Mr. Bucklin from the joint committee of both houses, to whom was referred chp. IV, entitled “of the rights of the citizens and inhabitants of this state;” reported the same with sundry amendments. Referred to a committee of the whole. . . .
. . . On motion of Gen. Sill, the house resolved itself into a committee of the whole, on chap. IV, Mr. Doty in the chair. This chapter is what is commonly called the Bill of Rights. The first section, which declares that no authority can be exercised over the citizens of this state, but such as is derived from the people, passed without any discussion, except an unsuccessful motion to substitute the word shall for can; but it being opposed by Mr. Piggott, on the ground that a declaration that a thing can not be done, is equivalent to a command that it shall not be done, the motion was withdrawn. The second section declares that no tax, &c. can be imposed but by the assent of the legislature of the U.S. or this state. The Speaker observed that he saw no use in this section. It contained a principle adopted from Magna Charta, which, under our form of government, could never be necessary to be asserted. Its object in England was to prevent the imposition of taxes under the name voluntary loans, which from time to time, were levied in that country previous to the time that the iron barons of England wrested Magna Charta from the vile King John. The section, however, was adopted. The third section, which declares the right of the people to keep and bear arms, elicited a debate which occupied the house until their adjournment. The Speaker objected to this section also, as useless. It was in the very language of the constitution of the U.S. and he asked whether it was meant by the act to re-enact that part of the constitution? Mr. Elbridge said, that though he had no particular objection to this section, he was opposed, by legislative act, to re-enact particular provisions of the constitution. He had cast his eyes over several chapters that had been reported by the revisers, and had observed that constitutional provisions were proposed to be re-enacted. He thought this wrong, as by so doing, and occasionally adding some additional provisions, an exposition or construction might be given to the constitution; and if one legislature exercised such power, another might do the same, and the result might be, that the constitution might be declared to mean any thing and every thing that the legislature chose.
Mr. Granger was satisfied that the feeling of the house was such upon this subject, that this ancient bill of rights would be rejected, and therefore would not trouble the house any remarks. He did not suppose that the liberties of the country would be endangered if the bill of rights was not re-enacted, nor did he believe that its re-enactment would give strength to the constitution containing the principles here set forth; but he would pass the bill to retain the old land marks which pointed to the birth of our liberties, and do honor to the memory of the men who placed this declaration of rights upon our statute books. In not voting for the rejection of this bill he would be governed by the same principle which would prevent him from laying violent hands on the tombs of his fathers.
On motion of Mr. L. Smith, the committee rose and reported. Ayes 41, noes 35.