Why bogus quotations matter in gun debate

tags: guns, gun control, Founding Fathers, CNN, Thomas Jefferson



(CNN) -- The Founding Fathers are frequently quoted in the gun control debate, but many of those quotations turn out to be fake.

The most popular comment on a recent story about gun control featured a purported quotation from Thomas Jefferson. More than 2,000 votes pushed it to the top.

"When governments fear the people, there is liberty," reads the quotation. "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."

The same quotation has been posted dozens of times in other readers' posts. Some readers worked to debunk it by mentioning Monticello.org, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation's website, which has a section devoted to "spurious" quotations that have been attributed to the third president of the United States. The website lists several variations of the quotation, featured on two pages, and says staff "have not found any evidence that Thomas Jefferson said or wrote" those words....



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