English language expert only!

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  • Thread starter GENIERE
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  • #1
For the English language experts:

This thread is intended only to determine what right the 2nd amendment to the US Constitution gives to it’s citizens. Some believe it to mean that if your in a militia you’re entitled to bear arms when necessary. Others believe it to mean any citizen can own a weapon without limitations. Restrict opinions to the proper parsing of the sentence and not render opinions as to which of above you prefer.

* Note comma placement.

“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.”



Regards
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
I'm confused by the English in it, myself...it doesn't feel like a complete sentence.

I have always thought the 2nd Amendment was nonsense, anyways. I read it in context of the late 18th century, where men often did battle with their personal firearms. Lats time I checked, this was the 21st century, and the idea of a militia is so outdated as to make the Amendment completely invalid.
 
  • #3
Methinks you have the right of it Zero,

It may serve a purpose in todays climate should the constitution become totally usurped by a dictitorial executive branch.
 
  • #4
you would, you pinko commie ...

:wink:


seriously though, it is not proper english by any means, but best i can tell they intend the right to bear arms not to be infringed because a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state; not that a well regulated milia should be the only ones allowed to bare arms.


and i could care less how wars are fought, if someone wants to oppress me all it takes is a gun in their face to show them that it is not going to happen.
 
  • #5
russ_watters
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Originally posted by Zero
I'm confused by the English in it, myself...it doesn't feel like a complete sentence.

I have always thought the 2nd Amendment was nonsense, anyways. I read it in context of the late 18th century, where men often did battle with their personal firearms. Lats time I checked, this was the 21st century, and the idea of a militia is so outdated as to make the Amendment completely invalid.
It isn't and I agree with your interpretation of the context.
 
  • #6
I don't know if there should be a new amendment, if people feel so strongly about it, but right now I just don't see the 2nd Amendment being relevant. If you want proof, take into account that no one regularly quotes the ENTIRE thing in support of gun rights. Why not? Because you have to take it out of context in order to support teh NRA's position.
 
  • #7
FZ+
1,599
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A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,

Yeah, it is pretty confusing. I don't suppose there will be another amendment to clarify this wording? Because this statement seems to also support a totalitarian state - one solution is that the people are armed and incorporated into a citizen's militia, "regulated" by the state.
 
  • #8
Dissident Dan
237
2
It's about cruel and unusual punishment...no one should have an arm or two chopped off.

To be serious, one should note that it doesn't say anything about protecting your family from intruders or hunting.
 
  • #9
"A well educated public, being necessary to the progress of a free State, the right of the people to keep and read books, shall not be infringed."

Most readers of that sentence would conclude that people may keep and read books.

The next sentence is grammatically identical to the first:

"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."

Personal bias by some likely obfuscates the meaning of the second sentence.

The un-amended constitution dealt with the powers of the Federal government. The addition of the "Bill of Rights", wherein the 2nd amendment was included, dealt with the rights of the individual and the "several states".

States rights were vitally important to the founding fathers. A state militia was deemed necessary, not just to defend the country against foriegn invaders, but to defend the "several states" against a possible tyranical Federal government.

Regards
 
  • #10
Originally posted by Zero
I have always thought the 2nd Amendment was nonsense, anyways. I read it in context of the late 18th century, where men often did battle with their personal firearms. Lats time I checked, this was the 21st century, and the idea of a militia is so outdated as to make the Amendment completely invalid.

This doesn't hold water. First, it does not matter how old the constitution is or when it was written, it is the governing document of our country and must be followed unless proper steps are taken through the legislature to ammend it. Arguing that becuase society has changed certain parts of the constitution have become invalid makes no sense. One would hope that society has changed to a degree where it is no longer necessary for the government to secure the rights of freedom of speech, religion, etc... but that does not mean that we ought to go about trying to dismiss these parts of the constitution as irrelevant in the 21st century. So how on Earth do you justify doing this for other parts of the constitution? Second, even if society has changed to such a degree know that it is no longer necessary to secure the right to bear arms, this right still serves a serious and symbollic purpose in our country.

Personally I don't care to own a gun myself, nor do I see why so many others insist on having guns. Yes it does bother me to a certain extent that some people do own guns. But still I think it is ridiculous to talk about how we no longer need this right.
 
  • #11
russ_watters
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Originally posted by GENIERE
"A well educated public, being necessary to the progress of a free State, the right of the people to keep and read books, shall not be infringed."

Most readers of that sentence would conclude that people may keep and read books.

The next sentence is grammatically identical to the first:

"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."
So you are saying public = militia? educated = regulated? Could you clarify the definition of "militia" and "regulated" and their implications for the 2nd amendment?

I don't think your analogy fits. Whether it is grammatically correct is not your point.
One would hope that society has changed to a degree where it is no longer necessary for the government to secure the rights of freedom of speech, religion, etc... but that does not mean that we ought to go about trying to dismiss these parts of the constitution as irrelevant in the 21st century. So how on Earth do you justify doing this for other parts of the constitution?
That isn't the same thing, FZ+. Zero was saying that the right itself is obsolete, not its protection.

Just to clarify my position here, I'm not for banning all guns but I do think they should be HEAVILY restricted.
 
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  • #12
Originally posted by GENIERE
"A well educated public, being necessary to the progress of a free State, the right of the people to keep and read books, shall not be infringed."

Most readers of that sentence would conclude that people may keep and read books.

The next sentence is grammatically identical to the first:

"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."

Personal bias by some likely obfuscates the meaning of the second sentence.

The un-amended constitution dealt with the powers of the Federal government. The addition of the "Bill of Rights", wherein the 2nd amendment was included, dealt with the rights of the individual and the "several states".

States rights were vitally important to the founding fathers. A state militia was deemed necessary, not just to defend the country against foriegn invaders, but to defend the "several states" against a possible tyranical Federal government.

Regards

Those two sentences are NOT semantically equivalent. A book is not a gun, and an educated population is not a military force.

The wording refers to the existence of state militias, which do not exist anymore. As I said, the Amendment itself is obsolete. It is the same as any law referring to other people as property could not be enforced today.

I'm a gun owner myself, so I don't believe in a total ban or anything.
 
  • #13
Originally posted by climbhi


Personally I don't care to own a gun myself, nor do I see why so many others insist on having guns. Yes it does bother me to a certain extent that some people do own guns. But still I think it is ridiculous to talk about how we no longer need this right.

You should have read my second post...where I said, "I don't know if there should be a new amendment, if people feel so strongly about it, but right now I just don't see the 2nd Amendment being relevant." I'm not sure about how it would work, but I think a new Amendment is in order...the old one doesn't apply.
 
  • #14
Mr. Robin Parsons
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Originally posted by GENIERE

“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.”

A "militia" is a group of citizens who double as soldiers, hence if you remove from them, the right to bear arms, then all of the arms would have been stored in one place, for the purposes of the militia, and that would have been a very dangerous propostion, in those days.

So to ensure that you could muster an ARMED militia, the rights of the citizens to "keep and hold arms" was established.

It is probably becasue of the dualistic nature of the word militia, "citizen/soldiers" that the troubles of interpretation arise.

A simple question would be, did they have a National Armed Forces, when they contemplated this right, cause, if not, then the original intent of it was simply 'self protection' of the nascent nation by protecting the citizens rights.

Does that help?
 
  • #15
Well regulated according to Princeton's Wordnet means: "orderly adj, 4: marked by or adhering to method or system, a well regulated life." “Regulated“ circa 1790, did not mean something controlled by a government. In fact, a militia was deemed necessary to protect the individual from a tyrannical government including the US government. Fear of tyranny exists for many individuals today.

A Google search for “US code”, sub-search “militia” reveals:
-----------------------------------------------------------------
US Code 2000

Sec. 311. Militia: composition and classes

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied
males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of
title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration
of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female
citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are--
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard
and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of
the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval
Militia.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sub-section (2) refers to, and therefore legitimizes, an “unorganized militia”.

A correct parsing of the 2nd amendment finds that “right” is the subject, “shall” is the verb, and “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” is the main clause”. Therefore the right is given to the people, not the militia.

As to the relevancy of the amendment in this century, many on the left side of the political aisle believe the US Constitution is a living document that may be interpreted differently today than it was in the past. Those on the right side (no pun intended) believe it should be interpreted strictly as written.

Regards
 
  • #16
Dissident Dan
237
2
Obviously, it is saying that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Of course that brings into question what constitues infringement.

The only other thing that could be possible is that it is supposed to say "A well regulated Militia shall not be infringed.", which just doesn't make semantical sense. So I think that we can rule that out.

The Militia thing is brought into provide some background and justification. I don't think that what the United States defines as a "militia" today is relevant, Geniere. If you really want to look up documentation about the definition of "Militia", you should look it up in the writings of the drafters of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

It says that the right is protected in order for a militia (or militias--one for each State) to operate. It does not provide any other justification for this right.
 
  • #17
Originally posted by GENIERE


A correct parsing of the 2nd amendment finds that “right” is the subject, “shall” is the verb, and “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” is the main clause”. Therefore the right is given to the people, not the militia.

As to the relevancy of the amendment in this century, many on the left side of the political aisle believe the US Constitution is a living document that may be interpreted differently today than it was in the past. Those on the right side (no pun intended) believe it should be interpreted strictly as written.

Regards

You are ignoring the part that is relevant, to suit your political stance? SHAME! The PURPOSE of the right to bear arms is in the interest of maintaining a militia. Right or left, you aren't allowed to pick and choose only the part that suits you.

And, of course, laws need to change with the times...unless you are some sort of Luddite?
 
  • #18
Tog_Neve
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Zero -
The wording refers to the existence of state militias, which do not exist anymore.
How wrong you are. State militias still exist. Several states have them. And in a sense the national guard can be considered a state militia. They are under direct control of the state and not the fed.

The sentence is not a complex one.
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.
You can actually remove the "being necessary to the security of a free state" because that is a statement that is only giving reason behind the need for a militia. So you get:
"A well regulated militia, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed"
Now we find that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" becomes a descriptive statement which defines what the milita is...it is the people bearing arms...which even incontext of our founding fathers that waswhat the militia was...common people bearing arms for protection of State and government.

So A well regulated militia is necessary for the security of a free state.
A well regulated militia is the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
A well regulated militia shall not be infringed upon by the gment.
 
  • #19
Dissident Dan
237
2
Tog, I don't understand how you can say that a militia is a right. A militia is group of people. A right is not a physical entity.
 
  • #20
Tog_Neve
6
0
Dan
Not stating that at all.
Let me clarify a little more
Militia-
Purpose- Necessary for the security of a free state.
Made up of: people in this case bearing arms.
Thusly: In order to ensure the security of a free state the right of the people that make up the militia to bear arms should not be infringed upon. Since it is the people that make up the militia that is there to protect the security of the state (and fed) then the fed cannot take away the right to bear arms, or else the security of the state is at jeopardy.
 
  • #21
FZ+
1,599
3
Thusly: In order to ensure the security of a free state the right of the people that make up the militia to bear arms should not be infringed upon. Since it is the people that make up the militia that is there to protect the security of the state (and fed) then the fed cannot take away the right to bear arms, or else the security of the state is at jeopardy.
“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.”

Who does the regulating?

If it is the state as the statement suggests, then it is well within the duty of the regulating body, if they decide that the militia is in fact impeding security, to use their powers of regulation, and either withdraw or severely limit arms possession. In fact, it is downright unconstitutional for there not to be gun control.
 
  • #22
Mr. Robin Parsons
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Originally posted by FZ+
“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.”

Who does the regulating?

If it is the state as the statement suggests, then it is well within the duty of the regulating body, if they decide that the militia is in fact impeding security, to use their powers of regulation, and either withdraw or severely limit arms possession. In fact, it is downright unconstitutional for there not to be gun control.

Agreed, but how?

Further, the "regulated" is probably the voluntary adherence to the law, by responsible citizens, who have had some 'pre-training' at being a "Well Regulated Militia", hence trusted, in those local communities, to have arms in their homes.

Otherwise, all the arms would be in a cache, and I alone, could dis-arm your protection, with nothing more then a match. Not a safe proposition back in those days, or even in these days.

"Don't keep all of your eggs in one basket" as applied in a principal of self protection
 
  • #23
I'll repeat from my previous post. Regulated, circa 1790, addressed the functionality of some-thing/person. It absolutely did not refer to a regulating body other then the members themselves. The right (bear arms) is given to the people and as such none of "several states" can enact "infringing" laws. Several states have passed such laws, the last of which (appealed to the 5th circuit) had a ruling favorable to the political right. Many before that had rulings favorable to the left. The only one to reach the Supreme Court (1937 I think) was ruled somewhat favoring the left. That ruling was too narrow in finding only that a sawed-off shotgun was not a defensive weapon. In truth, neither side is willing to push appeals to the Supreme Court level, not being sure of the outcome. The Supreme Court, at this time is almost evenly divided, 3 liberals, 2 who don't know what they are, and 4 conservatives. You can bet that if the court swings to one side or the other, several of these state laws will be tested.

Dissident Dan is incorrect in stating that states had only one militia. In 1790, each of the states had several militias. Some still do.

I'm glad that Zero agrees that the purpose of the amendment was for the citizens to have the right to bear arms and form a militia. I don't believe I've stated differently.

The founding fathers also assumed citizens had rights and needs so obvious and prevalent that they saw no need to include them in the Constitution. One assumption was that people would hunt and have arms for that purpose. What the founding fathers assumed is a whole other issue.

I also agree with Zero in that laws (at least many laws) must change with the times. A means to alter the Constitution was provided for, that being the amendment process. It was not intended that the Constition be loosely interpreted. As all but one state's laws are based on English Common Law, laws tend to evolve naturally with the times. That’s why lawyers search for precedents. When necessary, appellate courts rule as to a given laws constitutionality. Louisiana's laws are based on the Napoleonic Code, but are still subject to being constitutional.

Regards
 
  • #24
I own a rather large rifle...and I don't mind if the government knows it and wants to keep track of it.
 
  • #25
Zero:

I tend to agree with that providing use of the data is very restricted. One restriction would be that a search warrent could not be issued simply beacuse one has a gun of the type used in a crime.

Regards
 
  • #26
Mr. Robin Parsons
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Why not try it is this light, a 'Militia' is the Military equivalent of the Marshals 'posse'.

One acts with civil right, the Marshal, (insert tin star) and their posse, (immediate 'volontary conscription') and from the (sorta) 'criminal law' side of it, the General, and their Militia, come into being from the 'Military' side of the law, hence the differentiation of the rights that are assigned, but using the same manner of 'aquisition' as to establish the body of people that are needed.

The differentiation of rights deals with rights to 'attack', for the militia, (Warriors) and only right to defend (seize and control) for the posse (Peace officers). Restrictions upon the rights of action differentiate the two positions, but they are very similar in the rest of the 'meaning'.

As for the right to 'Bear arms', well, I am not adverse to sleeve-less-ness, Tee Hee, hee hee hee hee hee!
 
  • #27
I am not adverse to sleeve-less-ness but ‘bear arms’ are hairy and ugly.

I can’t accept any form of civil regulation i.e., as in a marshal/posse scenario. As you know there exists, in the USA, what many describe as extreme right wing militias. Just for the record, I’m not a member of any and do not own a gun. I do believe these groups have a right to exist. They’re acknowledged to be legal, as their existence is well known to the state and federal government. Although watched very carefully, I don’t believe that any of these groups have been jailed unless it was for unrelated criminal acts.

Some of these groups have acted no differently from Osama BL. Nothing can condone the Oklahoma bomber’s attack or any other act of terrorism. Militia groups proved to sponsor such activities must be eliminated.

Some have a real fear that a state, or federal government plans to take away their inalienable rights. These groups exist not to fight crime, not to provide vigilante justice, and not to commit acts of terrorism. They exist to defend against any oppressive government, foreign or native.

It is these groups that I believe are protected by the Constitution.
 
  • #28
Originally posted by GENIERE
Zero:

I tend to agree with that providing use of the data is very restricted. One restriction would be that a search warrent could not be issued simply beacuse one has a gun of the type used in a crime.

Regards

And, I think, it should be rather difficult to get a weapon in the first place. My reasoning is that, in keeping with the Amendment, people should have to prove their skill with a weapon, and their ability to use and keep it safely. We do it with cars, after all, because there is a risk of bodily harm if misused, and the same standards should be held for weapons.
 
  • #29
Mr. Robin Parsons
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Originally posted by Geniere

Some have a real fear that a state, or federal government plans to take away their inalienable rights. These groups exist not to fight crime, not to provide vigilante justice, and not to commit acts of terrorism. They exist to defend against any oppressive government, foreign or native.

It is these groups that I believe are protected by the Constitution.

There exists another duality in the statement, inasmuch as the protection of the state serves in a dualistic role as per the existence of both the States individually, and the collective STATE, that is being an American, in itself. (not a New Yorker, or Californian, etc.)

The protection of the Individual States, by Militias that are termed "Well Regulated", means that a person of the communal/community authority must be "In Knowledge" of the actions, and practises, of the Militia's, as to ensure the volontary adherance to the conditions, that you so elequently state, as NOT being the "Raison D'etre" of the Militia's.

That brings in a standardizational ability through an a overview of the functions that are Constitutionally protected, and also protects the individual citizens, from the possiblities of "Un-Regulated" activities.

As for the 'rights' to "bear arms" (Ursus?) after that, well, that's up to Americans to decide, not me.
 
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  • #30
Zero:

“I own a rather large rifle...and I don't mind if the government knows it and wants to keep track of it.”

“And, I think, it should be rather difficult to get a weapon in the first place. My reasoning is that, in keeping with the Amendment, people should have to prove their skill with a weapon, and their ability to use and keep it safely. We do it with cars, after all, because there is a risk of bodily harm if misused, and the same standards should be held for weapons.”


In substance I agree with your 2 statements above, in principle I cannot. Let’s assume both of your restrictions on gun ownership were enacted as law; each a reasonable restriction. Other reasonable people add reasonable restrictions. Eventually we have a multitude of reasonable restrictions; the total of which combine to negate our right to have a weapon.

Conservatives regard any regulation as a bite out of our inalienable rights. We reluctantly agree some regulations are a practical necessity. The first regulation opens the door to other regulation. That door must be sealed but not airtight.

Regards
 
  • #31
Yes Mr. Parsons:

Arguments I’ve made in principle are diminished through years of enacted laws and regulations addressing the practicality of the issue. States Rights are almost non-existent. Prior to our Civil War, a sentence might have been written like this:

“The United States are dismayed by the actions of the French government.”

After the Civil War it’s written like this:

“The United States is dismayed by the actions of the French government.”

Can't think of any 'bear arms' puns, but if anyone has a "bear (as in ursa) arms" avatar, I'd like to have it.

Regards
 
  • #32
Dissident Dan
237
2
I've seen a bumper sticker before that says something like "Protect your right to arm bears."

Geniere, As far as the slippery slope argument goes, I don't think that no regulation at all is the answer. We have all kinds of rules in our societies, and I don't see why firearms of all things should be a special case excluded from having rules.
 
  • #33
Yo Dan:

I'm not an anarchist. I recogognize the need for some general regulation. Each regulation must be sent through a grinding mill, weakened, twisted and made ambiguious before it's enacted.

I like that bumper sticker. I almost missed the transposition of the words as I tend to scan down the center of a page when I'm reading.

Regards
 
  • #34
GENIERE,


Conservatives regard any regulation as a bite out of our inalienable rights. This is simply not true.

'Conservatives' today want to restrict rights they don't think they need, and keep the rights they are told to by the politicians and media sources they support.(This is true of 'liberals' as well) 'Conservatives' don't care about the 4th Amendment, for instance, because they only assume that criminals have something to fear from illegal searches. On teh other hand, they think guns should be exempt. Your argument is similar to the one I'm using about the administrations stipping of privacy rights, except that I don't think there should be NO regulation in either case. Let the government, on the other hand, use teh lightest touch possible in each case. There will always be people watching, to make sure they don't go too far, but zero regulation is no answer either.
 
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  • #35
russ_watters
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Originally posted by GENIERE
Each regulation must be sent through a grinding mill, weakened, twisted and made ambiguious before it's enacted.
Thats why the NRA writes most of our gun laws.
 

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