June 27

Wording of the Second Amendment Examined

No one can ever accuse the authors of our Constitution of being grammar experts.  Take the Second Amendment, subject of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling.  It reads:

"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."

Now, ignoring the fact that, in the 18th century, people often capitalized nouns for emphasis, the sentence still has structural problems.  It should read, "A well-regulated militia’s being necessary…."  Being is a gerund and thus must be preceded by a possessive.  Also, the comma after Arms separates the subject from the verb and is a real no-no.

What about the amendment’s meaning?

Gun opponents have seized up on the militia part to argue that only organized state forces should be allowed to keep and bear arms.  However, those who argue this have never bothered to research from whence this amendment originated.

The founders modeled this amendment on the Swiss Canton system, in which citizens not only can bear arms but are taught to bear and use arms.  To this day, part of the public education curriculum in Switzerland is learning to use arms–and competing against one another in rifle competition.

The fact that Switzerland is armed to the teeth helped prevent Adolph Hitler from invading the country in World War II.

Okay, I do have two degress in U.S. history to go along with my communications degree, so I have studied this stuff.



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Posted June 27, 2008 by Gary McCarty in category "Grammar Sucks

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