Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Seems to me this guy's got it right...

...(from a strictly Constitutionalist perspective)

Found on FARK: Zafler, quoting COMALite J
Most of the earlier drafts of the Second Amendment that were brought before Congress read: “A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms.” That bolded phrase remained through several revisions, and was finally removed only because it was deemed to be redundant. Everyone at the time knew what a militia was, and who composed a militia. It is most definitely not the National Guard, which wasn’t even founded until over a century after the Bill of Rights.

The term “well regulated” in early 1800s American English also does not mean what you think it does. It means “well-equipped.”

Even discounting that, the first clause of the Second Amendment is a dependent clause, and cannot stand alone as a sentence. The second clause is an independent clause, and can stand alone as a sentence. Basic English grammar, both then and now, states that in a compound sentence consisting of a dependent and an independent clause, the dependent clause is only a modifier or explanatory clause, with the independent clause being the operative clause. The well-regulated militia part is thus merely saying why the Right exists, and is not a limitation on it.

Even the term “arms” had a specific meaning: weapons that could be carried and wielded by hand, and ammunition thereof (so much for the idea that we can ban ammo even if we can’t Constitutionally ban guns), were the responsibility of the militia members. They had to obtain their own. The Government was to supply ordnance (cannon and other artillery, etc.). So much for the “but where do we draw the line? Can people keep and bear Abrams tanks? Missiles? Nukes?” type argument.

If the Second Amendment were written using modern grammar and idiom, but kept the same exact meaning it had when written, it would read:

“Because a well-armed and equipped populace is necessary to the security of a free state, the Right of the People to keep and bear hand-wieldable weaponry and any ammunition needed for same, shall not be infringed.”
A well put, clear and fairly succinct (and correct) interpretation.

Oh, and I don't have a personal problem with privately owned Abrams tanks or field pieces either.

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