The Second Amendment: What a Difference a Comma Makes

Discussion in 'Legal and Activism' started by tracker, Jun 18, 2008.

  1. tracker

    tracker Guest

    The Supreme Court's upcoming decision in a Washington, D.C. handgun ban case could potentially nullify thousands of gun laws on the books. The case stems from a security guard who was denied a request to keep a firearm in his District residence for self-protection.

    Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty recently said that the District's handgun ban "has saved many lives since 1976 and will continue to do so if allowed to remain in force." How does he measure that? The truth is that murder by handguns has gone up substantially in the District since the handgun ban was passed. I wonder how many honest people in the District were killed by thugs with guns because they were deprived of the ability to adequately defend themselves.

    The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads in its entirety: "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."

    What is it about "shall not" the anti-gun crowd doesn't understand? For years they have argued that the Second Amendment doesn't apply to individual gun ownership, when the comma between the words "free state" and "the right" clearly shows that the framers of the Constitution were masters of brevity and were addressing two different issues they obviously did not want tampered with. Some might not like what the amendment says, but it doesn't change the fact that it says it.

    Let's suppose there is a constitutional amendment that reads: A well regulated free government health care system, being necessary to the health of the people, the right of women to have abortions on demand, shall not be infringed. Would the typical anti-gun advocate suddenly understand what "shall not" and "infringe" mean? Would conservative pro-gunners argue that abortions could be regulated, denied or restricted at every level of government?

    In the worst case scenario for anti-gunners, the Supreme Court could negate all gun laws on the books because the Second Amendment is the gun law of the land. Keeping and bearing arms shall not be infringed. Gun laws infringe that right. Any law contrary to that is obviously unconstitutional. The amendment doesn't say the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed except if you are a juvenile or a mental patient or live in the District of Columbia. It doesn't restrict convicted criminals from keeping and bearing arms either.

    The ramifications of this decision could be enormous. "Keeping" and "bearing" arms are two different issues. Keeping arms would allow citizens to maintain a firearm in their residence, tent, vehicle, boat or other conveyance. Bearing arms could be interpreted as legally carrying firearms in public. Concealed weapon permits would be a thing of the past because they are designed by state governments to infringe residents from bearing firearms.

    Should mentally deranged people, organized street gang members or convicted felons be allowed to carry concealed firearms? I don't think so. But they may suddenly regain that right. The Supreme Court could place restrictions on firearm ownership the same way it restricts free speech by excluding libel, slander and yelling fire in a crowded theater when there isn't one. But those restrictions came after decades of rulings handed down by the Court. It seems to me that the only constitutional way to restrict gun ownership is to have a separate amendment that specifies when a person loses his Second Amendment rights.

    Even if all gun laws were declared unconstitutional, gun violence would probably not increase significantly because criminals have never followed gun laws, so why would they start now?

    No matter where you stand on the issue, it will be exciting to see where the Justices stand on the literal interpretation of the Constitution.
  2. bkt

    bkt New Member

    Regarding the oddly-placed comma, it has been noted that a comma would often be placed prior to a few words to denote a pause to emphasize the meaning of those words. It was often used differently than it is today.

    It also bears mentioning that printed copies of the Bill of Rights which the people read and which the state legislatures used to ratify the Constitution, the comma was missing. As in:
    (Look at Article the Fourth)

    Also, check out this Analysis of the Text of the Second Amendment.

  3. Jables

    Jables New Member

    The first comma is gone, but the comma free state is still alive and kicking. Also notice, Right and People are capitalize to add emphasize.
  4. BigO01

    BigO01 New Member

    This whole argument of the use of the comma is the dumbest thing I have ever heard , but of course a lawyer will sit and argue with you what you REALLY meant 2 seconds after you've said or written something .

    Of course he has to be paid to do so which makes him no better than a prostitute , notice that most politicians are also lawyers or at least went to school to become one .

    All one has to do is look up the definition of comma if they didn't finish grade school and you'll see that it was used as a simple pause which is normal and correct written English rather than making a hugely long sentence .

    Even if one goes with the alternate definition that it was used a punctuation mark all it does is punctuate the fact that a group of citizens , The Militia protects the Security and freedom of the State .

    Where does such an armed body come from ? The average Citizen or The People and you can't have a unarmed Militia now can you ? If you want the Militia to be Armed then the People must be armed because a Militia Member provides his own weapons , they did in the Revolutionary war now didn't they ?

    After all there was a clear distinction between the "Regulars" and the Militia from the history I have read on it .

    I never understood why this common sense argument never came up in Heller or any other 2A case .
  5. bkt

    bkt New Member

    Others have argued over the term "regulated". Did it mean well-trained and working well together? Of course! But some anti-2A people are saying the word regulated meant "overseen" and "controlled" by the government, thus lending credence to the idea that the National Guard may have weapons because it is overseen by the government, but not necessarily anyone else.
  6. BigO01

    BigO01 New Member

    Even if one of those definitions is accepted for the word Regulated it can easily be argued that it only applies after the Militia has been called up for actual service .

    For instance I have no doubt that during the Revolutionary War the Militia was , once called up to serve under the control of the Regular Army Commanders . They would no doubt make the decisions as to where and when the Militia members were to go and fight and pass those orders down to the Militia officers who were expected to carry them out .

    I think if the history of Militia has been documented and researched it would prove my suspicions due to one simple fact , I have never heard of a "Militia" General , their ranks were all of subordinate officers who would take orders from a regular Army General .

    Farther more if they insist on that definition they still must acknowledge that the the phrase "Right of The People" means something and the only reasonable definition would be that the government is responsible for arming the general public , at least those of the ages expected to serve in the Militia which due to longer life expectancy would have to be extended well beyond the original age of 45 and also extended to all women or face a Civil Rights Suit due to sexual discrimination .

    That would in effect mean that all members of "The Militia" would have to be armed with Military equivalent arms and not only be allowed to but expected to take them home as they do in Nations like Israel and Switzerland were having a Militia Issued fully automatic weapons in the home is quite common so they are ready for immediate call up and can report ready to go to war at a moments notice .

    This would kill them to have to admit because then each and every State would have to build and maintain ranges making free ammunition and training available for the Militia members to practice with their weapons to become and maintain their proficiency with them .

    If this definition was pushed by Progun groups to the extreme the argument could be made that prior to any call up armed Militia members could take it upon themselve to patrol the streets and fight crime because things such as Illegal immigration and drug trafficing is a threat to the "Security of a Free State" .
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2008
  7. billdeserthills

    billdeserthills New Member

    The thing is quite simply,
    Why is is there never any argument about any other amendment that says:
    The right of the people. Only in the Second Amendment is a right clearly delegated to The People ever disputed to actually be a right of the people.
    Nobody ever has to wonder if The People have a right to peaceful assembly,
    nor does anyone ever question if the people have a right to be secure in their homes, etc...
  8. h&k bigdaddydieseldan

    h&k bigdaddydieseldan New Member


    Amen to that bill and a damn good question too :eek::eek: