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News English language expert only!

  1. Apr 23, 2003 #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.”

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 23, 2003 #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 Lats time I checked, this was the 21st century, and the idea of a militia is so outdated as to make the Amendment completely invalid.
  4. Apr 23, 2003 #3


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    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.
  5. Apr 23, 2003 #4
    you would, you pinko commie ...


    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.
  6. Apr 23, 2003 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    It isn't and I agree with your interpretation of the context.
  7. Apr 23, 2003 #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.
  8. Apr 23, 2003 #7


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    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.
  9. Apr 23, 2003 #8
    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.
  10. Apr 23, 2003 #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.

  11. Apr 23, 2003 #10
    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 neccessary 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.
  12. Apr 24, 2003 #11


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    Staff: Mentor

    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.
    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.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2003
  13. Apr 24, 2003 #12
    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 existance 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.
  14. Apr 24, 2003 #13
    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.
  15. Apr 24, 2003 #14
    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?
  16. Apr 24, 2003 #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
    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.

  17. Apr 25, 2003 #16
    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 in to 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.
  18. Apr 25, 2003 #17
    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?
  19. Apr 25, 2003 #18
    Zero -
    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.
  20. Apr 25, 2003 #19
    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.
  21. Apr 25, 2003 #20
    Not stating that at all.
    Let me clarify a little more
    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.
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