Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Six Word Saturday

Let's Look at the Second Amendment.

Amendment Text

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.

I've highlighted the first few words, and I don't think it's an accident that they appear at the beginning of the sentence.  The militia, quite explicitly indicated as a function of the State, and not the purview of crazed army-surplus maniacs who roam Michigan's thumb playing war-games with live ammo on weekends, is the sole purpose and justification for keeping and bearing arms.  This is not to say that they can't be used for other purposes, such as hunting, skeet shooting, or a peaceful afternoon at your local firing range - but it most definitely is to say that none of these things, or even all of these things en toto constitute any justification for gun ownership.

Lousy grammar aside, this ambiguous sentence has been the source of consternation for quite some time.  See this link for a scholarly look at some of the confusion it has generated, and Ed's post for some interesting discussion in comments.

One thing is clear to me in all this fog - the founding fathers, who, after all were a bunch of fallible humans trying to coerce and compromise their way into an acceptable document - had no particular reverence for a private right of gun ownership.  In fact, whether it even includes a private, rather than a State's right is moot.  The amendment is utilitarian, no matter how ambiguous is the actual utility.

Back to the portion of the text that I highlighted.  Focus on the words "well regulated."

If you can in any way construe this as indicating an absolute unfettered inalienable right to posses a Glock 9 with a 31 round clip and carry it to a political rally, I have a few things to say to you.

1) Your ability to read with comprehension is severely impaired.
2) Your fevered brain is ruled by ideology, not any rational thought process.
3) What in the Hell is the matter with you?


1 comment:

Steve Roth said...

My question has always been:

Why did they even include the first 13 words?

If they wanted to give an unfettered right to bear arms, they could have used just 15:

The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.

That's not what they did.