A Message From Thomas Jefferson

My Fellow Americans,

Thomas Jefferson here. Founding Father, third President of the United States and all that jazz. So, what’s up? That’s what you guys are saying nowadays, right? Is that what’s “cool”? Is it still cool to say cool? Sorry, I’m getting off topic here.

I just wanted to pop in and ask everyone for a teensy favour. Could you fine people please stop quoting me in, like, every debate on guns and the Second Amendment? Because if you could stop, that would be just swell.

I get that guns are a controversial and emotional issue. Were I not, you know, dead, I’d probably be penning some pretty strong opinions on the topic myself! But as I’ve been deceased for coming up on two centuries now my thoughts on the subject really aren’t pertinent, and you should probably stop trying to shove my quotes down the throats of people who disagree with you in lieu of actual opinions and facts. Let me explain why.

For starters, that quote you’re ascribing to me? I probably never said it! Yeah, misattribution is a big problem for me—I get credit for more quotes I shouldn’t than poor old Mark Twain. Here’s an example:

When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. 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.

Wow. Pretty stirring stuff. I wish I could take credit for that! But nope, never said it. Same with this one:

 The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.

I’ve been seeing that quote a lot. Snappy, right? But totally not me. It doesn’t even sound like me. I mean, come on guys, have you even read my writing? Like, maybe this little thing called the Declaration of Independence? It’s elaborate and flowery and written like I was living in the late 18th, early 19th centuries. You know, because I was. These quotes totally read like pithy 21st century style over substance sound bites meant to sound deep on the Internet.

Which is ironic, because it should only take you about five seconds of research to spot the fakes. Seriously, you have the Internet! That shit’s so cool! So use it to call people out when they’re posting these quotes, okay? You’ll help stop the spread of misinformation, and look smart. Win-win, y’all.

Now, ol’ Jazzy Jeff here bets he knows what you’re going to say next. “But Mr. Jefferson, even if you didn’t use those exact words, don’t they capture your feelings on the subject?” Well friends, I’m afraid my opinions on firearms are complicated, and can’t be accurately summed up in a comment on a news article. What can I say? I like to consider the merits of both sides of a debate. Just ask my slaves!

More importantly, why do you guys even care so much? Don’t get me wrong, I’m flattered that you take my words so seriously. But I died in 1826—the world was a little different back then. Lots of folks claim that if I was alive today I’d take their side in the gun debate, but I’d probably be too busy having my mind blown by fighter jets to participate. You know we were still using muskets in my day, right?

This whole gun problem you got going on right now is tough, no doubt about that, and I wish you all the best with it. My only advice is to maybe try forming your own opinions instead of mindlessly parroting the false thoughts of a man you’ve deified to a dangerous degree (again though, I’m super flattered!). Times and laws change, so put things in a modern perspective and make Tommy proud.

Anyway, I gotta run—James and I are going to go grab some drinks at Sam’s place. I’ll leave you with what I understand is the traditional parting expression of goodwill in modern America.

Thomas Jefferson