Recently I quoted Col. Jeff Cooper. Our e-pal Bill Keezer passed along the quotation to Bill Vallicella, who reposted it on his blog.

Bill did, however, notice that I had offered no source, and remarked that he doesn’t like unsourced quotations. He looked for a source, and couldn’t find one. I can’t either. I have amended the post.

Bill’s right: this was an oversight. I have no reliable way of knowing that Jeff Cooper actually said or wrote this, and I should have made that clear. Not to do so is indifference to the propagation of error. (That’s not to say that the attribution is in fact erroneous — but it might be, and I posted it with indifference to whether it is or isn’t.)

Caveat lector: as Abraham Lincoln once said, “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.”


  1. Tina says

    Malcolm, Perhaps this will help you narrow it down. From a 2004 forum post – the link he gives as his source is now defunct, so I’ve removed it for pasting here so as not to mess things up in the search engines:

    Old May 21, 2004, 03:31 PM #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date: February 16, 2002
    “It may be from “Cooper on Handguns” as suggested by the link above.

    “The founder member of “practical shooting”, the opinionated and lyrical Jeff Coopers, wrote in his book Jeff Coopers on Hand Guns, now out of print:

    “Man is often defined as “the tool-bearing animal.” Weapons are the tools of power. In the hand of the state, they can be the tools of decency or the tools of oppression, depending on the righteousness of that state. In the hands of criminals, they are the tools of evil. In the hands of the free and decent citizen, they should be the tools of liberty. Weapons compound man’s power to achieve whatever purpose he may have. They amplify the capabilities of both the good man and the bad and to exactly the same degree, having no will of their own. Thus, we must regard them as servants, not masters — and good servants of good men. Without them men is diminished, and his opportunities to fulfill his destiny are lessened. An unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it. This book will examine one particular form of weapon — the handgun. The handgun is an interesting artifact, and its mastery is a notable accomplishment. Those who master it achieve a peculiar satisfaction, for they partake in some measure of one of the attributes of the gods — the ability to point the hand and smite at a distance. This idea existed millennia before anyone ever saw a pistol. So it must be an innate human aspiration, independent of technology. It is obviously the basis of the pleasure we take in pistol craft. As the handgun has no evil of its own, it has no skill of its own; however, in a master’s hands, its efficiency is almost unbelievable. As with all instruments, it is the man, not the tool, that makes the difference. The more subtle the tool, the greater the difference. Skill with a shovel makes less difference than with a violin. The handgun lies somewhere between…”
    “Personal weapons are what raised mankind out of the mud, and the rifle is the queen of personal weapons. The possession of a good rifle, as well as the skill to use it well, truly makes a man the monarch of all he surveys.” -Jeff Cooper, The Art of the Rifle-
    Last edited by ReadyOnTheRight; May 21, 2004 at 03:32 PM. ”

    Found here:

    Posted May 20, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Thank you very much for that, Tina.

    Posted May 20, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

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