Just say meh to guns
First of all, so I don’t lose the pro-gun reader, I own a gun. Actually, I own a gun, knives, swords. I used to own a bow and a crossbow. I still kind of wish I had a handheld repeating crossbow, but that’s only because I’ve been a D&D geek for too long.
However, gun nuts scare me. Gun nuts are the ones who say they need guns to protect them from the government or seem hopeful that someone will break into their house so they can shoot them. Gun nuts are the ones that seem to think the second amendment is a clarion call to them.
Perhaps this is an issue where ambivalence is key. Anyone that is too committed to either side isn’t generally open to nuance. There may be gun-grabbers in government, but they are a minority. There may by gun crazy militias, but thankfully they are also a minority. The topic of gun rights and regulation is best left to those who can stand somewhere in the center and not be emotionally moved by the idea of either of these boogeymen.
The thing is, we can’t jump to the second amendment every time we talk about gun regulation. The founding fathers had no idea of the extent to which firearms would evolve. Sadly, no time-travelling bandits with laser-targeting machine guns ever waylaid Benjamin Franklin on his way to his print shop.
While I’m not ideologically against guns, I’m not falling for the argument that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” We know the evolution of weaponry has turned the tides of civilizations. I believe it was Attila the Hun who owed wide-reaching military hegemony to the superior power of …the bow and arrow.
Weapons violently change the potential for casualties. Guns, like cars, need to be subject to sober and reasonable control. We’re all good with licensing and insurance. We understand the need for punitive laws to discourage driving under the influence. Why then are some people unable to apply that logic to regulation of something specifically designed to cause damage?
Of course a gun ban wouldn’t end violence, but we’re not talking about either. It’s as much an issue of culture as it is an issue of regulation.
When drunk driving laws were introduced, states began public relations campaigns, and private activism groups worked for public awareness. The culture changed. People didn’t just stop driving drunk because it was against the law, they stopped because it became seen in the culture as wrong.
Obviously drunk driving hasn’t completely stopped, but it has dropped. Roughly 20,000 deaths in 1980 compared to 10,000 in 2015. When you account for the increase in population that number becomes even more impressive.. Bartenders call cabs for drunk patrons. “Designated driver” became part of our lexicon.
But 10,000 people still die due to driving under the influence each year. “Designated drivers” are not that effectively a part of our culture.
With guns, what we have is a nonsensical set of premises that teeter from one extreme to another. We have exploitation of every opportunity for political points on either side, and we have a glorification of or demonization of guns that will do nothing but confuse the uninformed and empower the all-too-creepy.
Sober gun regulation encourages sober cultural treatment of what should be a greater social concern.
Most Americans, including most gun owners, are in favor of measures such as tougher gun regulation, closing the loopholes, better mental health and felony screening, and research to determine the best way to reduce gun violence. Most members of the NRA are in favor of greater regulation. But somehow we’re still stymied by the argument that the Second Amendment guarantees unfettered access to guns. A loud, intractable minority screams “Second Amendment! na na na,” plugs their ears, and successfully shuts down all discussion.
The bad news for them is that the Second Amendment is not there for them. Their Second Amendment argument is bullshit.
There is nothing in the second amendment that guarantees unrestricted access to firearms.
A basic historical and grammatical analysis of the second Amendment
This is the full text of the Second Amendment
It’s short and sweet–done so, ironically, to avoid confusion and allow for flexibility.
The Second Amendment is a compound sentence with an independent clause preceded by two modifying dependent clauses.
The Supreme Court interprets “A well-regulated militia” as implying the imposition of proper discipline and training.” IMPOSED proper discipline and training. People that argue the second amendment protects unfettered gun ownership ignore this fundamental point.
To put the SCOTUS argument another way, the keeping of arms with regulation through compelled discipline and training.
The second clause, “being necessary to the security of a free state,” modifies the first and main parts. Why do we need a well-regulated militia? To protect the security and freedom of the state.
Well regulated gun ownership for the security of the free states is the only function for which well-regulated gun is guaranteed.
To paraphrase, the first two, modifying clauses establish that a well-regulated and trained militia with is necessary for the security and freedom of the states.
The final part, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed,” is equally clear. It establishes the right of “the people.” The people being the “body politic.”
It actually means. “the people of a nation, state, or society considered collectively as an organized group of citizens,” and “a group of persons politically organized.” A body politic is also “a metaphor in which a nation considered to be a corporate entity.” (Under the old use of the word corporate.)
When the Bill of Rights or the Constitution is addressing an individual’s rights, it does so explicitly.
- In the the Fifth Amendment it speaks of the individual: “No PERSON (individual) shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime… nor shall any PERSON be subject for the same offence twice…”
- In the Sixth Amendment, it speaks again of an individual: “The ACCUSED shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.”
- The Fourth Amendment drives this argument home by parsing between the collective and the individual: “The right of the people to be secure in their PERSONS, houses, papers and effects…” They first speak of the governed body, but quickly make clear people are to be secure in their persons against unreasonable search and seizure.
When the Bill of Rights or the Constitution is addressing the body politic, the people, the plurality, they do so explicitly.
- “We the people of these united states.”
- The first amendment, “…the right of the PEOPLE to peaceably ASSEMBLE.” This is why loitering can be illegal and protest cannot be made illegal.
- In the second amendment, “the right of the PEOPLE to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
The Second Amendment never avows that individuals must be allowed to buy and collect guns in any capacity they choose, free of regulation. It guarantees nothing outside of a trained body serving a governing body for the body politic.
At the time of the drafting of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, gun ownership wasn’t something considered controversial. Most guns were owned by rich or land-owning white men–the gentry, traders, and pioneers. While Indians did own guns, they were usually an inferior quality of “trade gun.” (Also, an indian on a horse could loose thirty arrows in the time it took a man to reload and fire a gun.)
They had no cause for concern of heavily armed crowds of the poor, or blacks, or women. The power and money and almost all the land was in the hands of rich, white men who feared the power of a centralized tyrannical body. Remember that they had recently fought to free themselves from the British crown. As the states navigated their way through the ultimate structure of the federal government, the one thing that slowed the process down was near universal distrust of a federal body that could potentially have overwhelming financial and military control over the states.
Remember, at the time these rich, white, land-owning men had mor manpower and firepower than the government, and they intended to keep it that way.
There is nothing in the constitution or any of the amendments that tries to curtail gun ownership, but there is nothing that guarantees individual, unfettered gun ownership.
Even if you ignore the facts or my interpretation of the Second Amendment, there is nothing that promises uncontrolled, unregulated or untrained gun ownership. It instead attaches those each as stipulations to keeping guns. In almost all previous drafts of the second amendment, the modifying stipulations are present in some way.
Virginia Declaration of Rights, June 12, 1776
“XIII. That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and be governed by, the civil power.”A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth or State of Pennsylvania, 1776
“XIII. That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”
A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1780
“Art. XVII. The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence. And as, in time of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature; and the military power shall always be held in an exact subordination to the civil authority and be governed by it.”
Proposed by James Madison June 8, 1789 to the House of Representatives:
“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.”
Common misunderstanding of the Second Amendment prevails in most segments of the population mainly because of the perpetuation of incomplete or purposefully inaccurate interpretations of the Second Amendment. People seem to love quoting the second half of the amendment, or cutting and selectively pasting the words of founding fathers speaking about the issue at the time.
An example of this quote splicing. Notice how in context the message changes:
Partial: “The great object is, that every man be armed…Every one who is able may have a gun.”
Whole: “May we not discipline and arm them [the states], as well as Congress, if the power be concurrent? so that our militia shall have two sets of arms, double sets of regimentals, &c.; and thus, at a very great cost, we shall be doubly armed. The great object is, that every man be armed.But can the people afford to pay for double sets of arms, &c.? Every one who is able may have a gun. But we have learned, by experience, that, necessary as it is to have arms, and though our Assembly has, by a succession of laws for may years, endeavored to have the militia completely armed, it is still far from being the case.”
— Patrick Henry speaking at the 1788 Virginia debate to ratify the Constitution. The partial quote was used by Stephen Halbrook in The Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
The above quoted material is from “Interpreting the Second Amendment,” at Lawsonline.
There are many good sources to learn about the historical context and the expressed sensibilities, like the above and at Cornell University online. Make sure any sources you use to better understand the Second Amendment, or ANY of the Bill of Rights, or …ANYTHING, be primary sources or objective resources like these, and NOT libertarian and conservative websites that are guilty of the worst kind of shenanigans. There is no real agenda to ban guns. Politicians that express a wish that there were no guns are not exactly confessing to some Illuminati/Mason/George Clooney plot to rid Americans of Guns so Obama can become supreme ruler of New Kenya.
There are plenty of worthwhile ideas for regulation that would in no way hamper private gun-ownership, but for that to happen, we must first overcome the paranoid and pathological arguments that are allowed to enter into reasonable mainstream debate, but that’s a discussion for the next article. For now, give your hysterical friends a friendly kick in the face and tell them that hyperbole alone won’t advance this or any other politically entrenched debate. Gun regulation must grow out of a mature society and must be a reflection of the desire for a mature and cautious society.
Hey! The limey jackass is making a perfectly cogent point that could bear discussion among the non-drooly.
Also, while, satellites and streaming internet are certainly a technological advance, they aren’t exactly dangerous.
UNLESS you are a multi-national corporation and that technology is in the hands of people like us!
Efforts to regulate media and the internet continue and to such a degree, it makes the specter of gun bans seem like an old woman wagging her finger and clicking her tongue.
Maybe we should focus more of our attention and ranting on THAT contemporary political issue! The corporations are the new tyrants, and no amount of modern arms can protect us from them. Only critical thinking skills and the cooperative action of the body politic.
The new militia member is the independent informed reader.
Brilliantly executed article. There was a little bit of controversy about gun ownership during the time of the Founding Fathers but it involved whether or not the Quakers could remain pacifist and refuse to own guns. The reason? You hit the proverbial nail on the head…the Founding Father’s wanted civilians armed against potential outside invasion more than they really feared an internal federal threat. This was because historically nation states with armed citizens (not necessarily armed with guns) were less likely to be overrun by neighboring hostile states. But EVERYONE was martially trained in those states- think Sparta. Anyway…D… great job on this. Seriously this may be the best article I have read on the topic in a while and I can only think of one other writer who comes close on this topic (and he supports common sense regulation too).
Brilliant, now who do you get the gun culture to read it. I agree, we don’t have to ban them, but they can be treated like we do cars.
Other than the-other-guy’s argument-is-BS, what argument are you making exactly?
At times you seem to be making a States Rights argument (as in Hickman, 9th circuit), at other times you seem to be making a Collective Rights argument (as in Silveira, also 9th circuit), but both of those theories have been discredited such that the dissenters in Heller latched onto a version of the limited individual rights theory. However the Heller dissenters could not show contemporary evidence for such an absurdly narrow reading, and they had to ignore evidence from the earliest state court cases on the right to bear arms.
Your take on the grammar of the second amendment is flawed to say the least. The dependent clause provides a rationale for the non-infringement of the right guaranteed, but the dependent clause does not modify the subject of the main clause, that is simply not the function of absolute construction.
Thank you Vivian and Cherilyn for your comments.
Thank you, Michael, for your comment. I’ve been afraid that that I might get the kind of comments that I usually see following articles about gun rights and regulations. You’re comment is civil and thoughtful.
My intent was, clearly stated, a historical and grammatical analysis. I chose not to include a legal argument because for every decision that ignores the first part of the Second Amendment (Judge Charles Silberman’s determination that the clause prefatory and “constitutional throat clearing” as if it anything with the Bill of Rights was perfunctory), there is another decision that validates that clause (Chief Justice John Marshall who said, “It cannot be presume that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect.”) I want to restate an important point. All of the arguments that invalidate the “militia clause” assert nothing more cogent than, there’s nothing to see here. They didn’t mean it. It’s window dressing. The first part of the sentence should in no way be considered to have any bearing on the second part of the sentence.
Besides, people have a tendency to treat judicial decisions and the judges who make them like a five-year old treats friends dependent upon whether or not they share candy. Take this comment to an article about The 9th Circuit’s decision that Gun ownership is NOT an individual right. “This little punk judge thinks he’s going to rule away the right to bear arms against evil government… Let’s just see what the Supreme Court does with it. If they try to nullify the 2nd Amendment, there will be revolution!” I’m sure if he gets the decision he wants, they’re brilliant, and if he doesn’t, they’re punk gun grabbers. That right there is an illustration of why I appreciate comments like yours and have comments set to rely on approval before they’re published.
Regarding your comment about absolute construction, I’ll repeat Marhall’s sentiment. The idea that they threw that in there for the shits and giggles, that they would not have wanted it to be taken seriously, simply cannot be taken seriously. This is not a strawman argument. Arguments that insist upon the irrelevance of the first half of that sentence imply it had no value to the writers.
The Second Amendment is intended to be read in its entirety. To disagree with that is to say that it was not meant to be taken as a whole and is not purposeful and the result of considerable debate, history, and reflection.
Maybe you and the people who misunderstand absolute construction in a linguistic sense are confusing the modern usage with genitive absolutes, which technically do not limit or change the main part of the sentence but add to it. Just because the absolute construction is separate syntactically, doesn’t mean it’s separate linguistically. The “militia clause” is a nominative absolute. A nominative absolute like this one can generally be when “because” and a form of “to be” can included to make it a subordinate clause
Here are a couple of examples to illustrate. From an article by another English teacher.
All include absolute construction and all modify the second half of the sentence.
All of the sentences include implications.
Modifying it with the literal meanings I wrote about in my article:
The right of the body politic to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed [Why?] because a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state. The clause modifies and limits the purpose and meaning of the main part.
There are no reasonable arguments against my assertion. The Commonwealth precursor to this Second Amendment establishes that the right to bear arms was limited rich landowners. Gentry.The published debate leading up to the completion of the amendment talks specifically about the sovereignty of the state. The commas in the amendment itself are purely for pause, for taking a breath. This was the method of the time. Even the Eighteenth Amendment uses commas in this way. “The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged.” Obviously that is a restrictive clause, but it has commas as if it was a nonrestrictive clause. The 18 and older clause is meant to limit the whole statement. They would not include it otherwise.
Finally, to answer your first question, I thought I had made that point a few times, but to give that horse a few more swift kicks, my main point is that we need to move forward with gun regulation and training. The majority of Americans want it, and they can’t let this narrow and absolutist view of the 2nd amendment empower the loudest and least reasonable voices intending to shut us up.
This is an article that informed Souter’s opinion.
I do want to add that no part of my argument or thinking on this is that the Second Amendment limits gun rights or says that guns are only to be used by militias. The Bill of Rights is expressly meant to safeguard particular freedoms. It just doesn’t safeguard limitless, unfettered, individual gun ownership.
J Daniel Valencia,
Is it really your contention that the dependent clause modifies the subject of the main clause?
You have not shown that the grammar of the second amendment supports your addition of a qualifier on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Instead the examples you supply reinforce my point that the dependent clause is meant as a rationale for the non-infringement of the right, it does not create the right, nor does it qualify the subject of the main clause.
Reading any sentence as it is found in the constitution is not ignoring some part of it, instead it is giving each part the meaning that was intended. But adding a qualifier where none exists would indeed give a meaning that is not supported by the text or grammar of the amendment.
The standard model is the broadest reading of the second amendment. The limited individual rights interpretation is, not surprisingly, a far more narrow reading.
While I thank you for responding, I am puzzled why you cannot say what sort of argument (States’ Rights, Collective Rights, or Limited individual Rights theory) you are making regarding the nature of the right protected in the second amendment.
The militia clause does modify the main part. “Modify” means restrict or add, in this case adding rationale or purpose.
You say I’ve given no support, but you’ve ignored my support. If the amendment said “John should have a gun so that John can defend the state.” You’re correct to say that the second part doesn’t limit the first part. If John hunts with the gun, it can’t technically be taken away from him because he used it for a purpose other than defending the state. The amendment doesn’t qualify it in that sense. If that was all I was arguing, you’d be right.
But that’s not what the amendment says, and you’re ignoring my total argument. The Second Amendment doesn’t say “John.” It doens’t say “individual.” It says “the people.” I need both part of the argument to be confronted or it’s not my argument but what you’ve adulterated to make it more convenient to rebut. The people, as established as the body politic in several ways, should not have the right to bear arms infringed (which was more military parlance than Billy and his shotgun) for the purpose of a well-regulated militia for a free state. It is the right of “the people” as a body to secure the free state. An individual acting as an individual can do nothing for the security of the free state. Individual rights are not the concern of the second amendment.
There are many more books and arguments that support this, the fact that the precursor to the Second Amendment actually limits gun ownership to rich landowners, for example. Commas were used differently at the time and by James Madison. Etc. But an article that tried to be that total would be a book.
Also, I presented a premise and a historical and grammatical argument. You have ignored much of it and tried to insist that I engage in a separate legal argument that I’ve repeatedly stated is not part of the point or the argument. This is bad argument people engage in to manipulate or out of lack of care. I’ve done it unintentionally myself. Feel free to write a theoretical legal argument. If it’s good, I’ll publish it.
Your argument leaves something to be desired.
We the people need to take notice of something that those wanting to take any guns from the people refuse to see. That is, the way things were argued at the time of the founding of our nation and how those arguments were written.
• “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
• “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
Please note the structural similarities between these two sentences by two different men of this time. This is the way they wrote a sentence so that it would not be mistaken or confused. Here are more modern examples written in a post I read recently online. Unfortunately I could not document the name of the author and I do not want to claim this work as my own. I did find the assumed authors online handle Myhightechsecurity but was not able to find their real nameanywhere in their post. Regardless the following is their work not mine but it gives an excellent break down of the logic and structure. And expands somewhat on the idea behind the structure.
• The structure is this:
“This is a benefit derived from X; the rights to X shall not be infringed.”
To read it in any different context requires deliberate, intentional ignorance.
For example; suppose we said:
“Healthy bones being good for children, the right of children to drink milk shall not be infringed”.
The “progressive” read of that sentence, taken as they read the 2nd amendment, would be: “Only children with healthy bones are allowed to drink milk”.
Excuse me, but you have to be a real arse to interpret that sentence that way.
“Quality orchestras being of value to the culture of the state, the right of the people to own and play musical instruments shall not be infringed”.
Clearly I’ve just said that only orchestra members can own or play instruments?
They are not making a mistake with their faulty interpretation- it’s very chillingly deliberate deception.
“A well balanced breakfast being necessary to the start of a healthy day, the right of the people to keep and eat food shall not be infringed.”
Who has the right to keep and eat food? A well balanced breakfast or the people?
“A well-read electorate being important to a representative democracy, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed”.
The modern day gun controller would demand that only those on the voting rolls have the freedom to read and keep books. This shows their moral and ethical bankruptcy.
But let’s take one last look at that sentence construction. The importance of a horse in the 18th century to army personnel was extremely high. It was their transportation, it was their luggage carrier, and they could even eat it if necessary during a siege. Therefore, it was paramount to know that all the militia could show up with their horse in hand when called upon. So… the Founding Fathers put a clause in the Constitution that read something such as this:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and ride horses shall not be infringed”
Now, based upon the interpretations of those who have difficulty understanding English they would have us believe that only those who belong to the militia have the “right” to keep and ride a horse. No other people do. Not farmers. Not cowboys. Not teamsters. Not stagecoach companies. Not little girls with their ponies. No one has the “right” to keep and ride a horse except a “militia member.”
And furthermore, those that have the “right” to keep and ride a horse must abide by the government regulations as to the particular, allowable breed of horse, the number of legs the horse must have, how old it must be, how tall it can be, the color of its hair, how long the mane can be, whether or not it is male or female, and if it is gelded. Not to mention the total number of horses one can keep and ride, or the sum total poundage of the herd.
If this seems exceptionally silly… that is because the basic argument of those who dismiss the 2nd Amendment as only applying to the militia is exceptionally silly. They really know that deep in their heart… which is why they generally just wave their hands and don’t try to actually defend their position.
The above quoted post was correct in its explanation of the sentence structure. Today we still use this structure variation in writing and conversation frequently.
• “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
It is important to understand that the people as a whole, the entire population of the country, were the militia and in order to maintain security and freedom, The RIGHT of the people to KEEP and BEAR arms, SHALL NOT be infringed was necessary. The word ‘shall’ expresses the strong assertion of intent meaning the framers intended that the 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms would not be challenged by future government. The meaning of this amendment is clear to thoughtful persons of logic, the people maintain the right to keep, own, maintain, and bear firearms and the government shall not try to remove or limit this right.
Three things about the 2nd amendment people need to understand…
1. The 2nd amendment is the only amendment of the original 10, the Bill of Rights, that not only states what the right is but also says that this right may not be infringed. None of the others make this kind of statement. It, and it alone, supports itself in this way this is an assertion of the importance of this phrase.
2. The structure of the 2nd amendment is an argument and justification. The authors of the 2nd amendment were arguing their case and their justification for adding the 2nd amendment to the Bill of Rights. This argument is broken down further below, in the following manner as stated above:
“This is a benefit derived from X; the rights to X shall not be infringed.”
• Part one.
This is a benefit derived from X.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,
This was the benefit or justification in their argument. The authors recognized the need for a militia in order to have their freedom secured and protected.
• Part two.
The rights to X shall not be infringed.”
the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed
This is what they were trying to protect, the right of the people not the militia.
3. Common sense test for the 2nd amendment. If the 2nd amendment was only concerning the militia’s right to keep and bear arms, why would it have to protect the militia’s right to this? Common sense dictates that the militia would have firearms. What use would an unarmed militia be? The militia would not need to have its right to keep and bear arms protected from infringement. The authors of this amendment knew the militia would be armed. It makes no logical sense to think that the militias right to defend the nation by keeping and bearing arms would have to be protected from infringement. The authors of the Bill of Rights recognized the need for a militia, an armed militia. Why? Because they had already had to rely upon the militia to gain their independence. The 2nd amendment was written for the people, to ensure their rights to keep and bear arms were not infringed.
Those who argue for reform or abolishing the 2nd amendment need to understand all of these facts before trying to change what our founders set up for us.
It’s confusing and messy to stick any information into a similar structure and say it amounts to the same thing. False equivalence is the least of the problems.
Let’s say a faithful restatement would be:
Let’s try that on your other examples
It works just as well as your arguments.
But you’re saying that the first part does not modify or restrict the second part? It only speaks to the benefit. So then what they meant was
Since your an expert with grammar, you know that attaching two statements with a semi-colon implies a relationship, and attaching them with a comma and making one a clause dependent upon the other makes it a modifier. There is a relationship. But we’ll keep it as detached as we can without COMPLETELY ignoring the structure of the second amendment.
Also, to say X is AN benefit derived from Y ignores that this is THE benefit they chose to incorporate in their text.
If I read any of the above statements:
“Schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged; religion, morality, and knowledge are necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind.”
What am I to interpret? Even if I take out the inherent value, just make it incidental but important enough to mention, they are still saying the benefit of the school is to teach religion, morality, and knowledge. So if I’m going to open a school, I should include those in the curriculm.That’s the benefit. So if I failing school, it is not protected by that encouragement.
The right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed; a well-read electorate is important to a representative democracy.
What if the electorate uses books for decoration or to impress girls with books they never read and there’s no demonstrable benefit any more. If the assertion of the second part is no longer true, the assertion of the second part cannot now flutter off unmoored with the same protections.
“The right of the people to own and play musical instruments shall not be infringed; quality orchestras being of value to the culture of the state.”
If I don’t have a “quality orchestra,” or if the state comes to disagree that orchestras are of value to the culture of the state, then the benefit that the speaker explicitly stated is no longer present.
The right of the people to keep and eat food shall not be infringed, because a well balanced breakfast is necessary to the start of a healthy day. IF the food is not a well-balanced breakfast, what is protecting its value? Is it food anymore?
Your common sense ignores the well-regulated part. It’s not simply any militia but one that is well-regulated, because the founding fathers were smart and understand that if something is to endure, it must be healthy.
“A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves … all men capable of bearing arms”
Richard Henry Lee 1788
“The great object is, that every man be armed. Everyone who is able may have a gun.”
Patrick Henry at the Virginia Convention on the Ratification of the Constitution
“The laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm those only who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes, Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man”
Thomas Jefferson quoting criminologist Cesare Beccaria
“Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords and every other terrible implement of the soldier are the birthright of an American”
Tench Coxe – The Pennsylvania Gazette February 20, 1788
“The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword because the whole body of the people are armed and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops”
Noah Webster 1787
Bravo. Well writ and unfortunately continually timely.
Some interesting ideas in here to be sure…but please, from now on, have your wife, friend and colleague (at least three people) read over everything you intend to publish before putting it out there full of seemingly little, insignificant typos and grammatical inaccuracies. I know, I know, my students used to whine, “But Arthur, it is the ideas that count. Who cares if there are a few spelling mistakes”. That is like saying about a Mozart sonata. “It is the melody that counts, who cares about a few missed notes”. Precision is what separates the professional from the amateur.
I went through it again just now (and proofed, somewhat) and I’m reminded why people shouldn’t edit their own work. Whew! I need to hire a copy editor.
If I were professional I would already be able to afford a copy editor. However, for the moment that money needs to go into other things. Progress is slow because I do 90% of the work, and I’m learning how to do the marketing and web-designing as I go.
Perhaps you would be interested in donating to the patreon. Every cent of your money will go toward copy-editing.
Now maybe you can edit your posts.
Your claim that “the militia clause does modify the main part” is not the same as saying the militia clause modifies the subject of the main clause. I showed earlier how the militia clause modifies the main clause and challenged your insistence that the militia clause modifies the subject -which absolute construction does not do. Someone claiming to present a grammatical argument ought at least to take grammar into account. Even the amici in support of the governments side agree that the militia clause is absolute construction.
One of your other claims (Individual rights are not the concern of the second amendment.) lost 9-0 in Heller, even the justices who deny the standard model do not deny that there is at least some individual right involved. The Silveira (9th circuit) claim that individuals have no standing to bring a second amendment defense lost 9-0 in Heller.
Lastly your distinction treating “the people” as the body politic (collective singular noun) rather than “the people” as those individuals who comprise the body politic (collective plural noun) fails for the many reasons cited by the majority in Heller.
“The Fourth Amendment drives this argument home by parsing between the collective and the individual: “The right of the people to be secure in their PERSONS, houses, papers and effects…” They first speak of the governed body, but quickly make clear people are to be secure in their persons against unreasonable search and seizure.” (end quote)
Really? This is basic fourth grade grammar. The word “their” as in “their persons, …” refers back to “the people” and mocks your argument. That usage of “persons, houses, papers, and effects” does not refer to individuals, houses, papers and effects owned by the body politic. It refers to the bodies and clothing, houses, papers and effects of individuals.
Not only is that basic grammar, that is how SCOTUS interprets the 4th amendment.
Whose persons, houses, papers, and effects are protected by the 4th amendment? The Body Politic’s or individuals?