Skip to comments.THE UNABRIDGED SECOND AMENDMENT
Posted on 12/11/2012 6:49:55 PM PST by marktwain
If you wanted to know all about the Big Bang, you'd ring up Carl Sagan, right ? And if you wanted to know about desert warfare, the man to call would be Norman Schwarzkopf, no question about it. But who would you call if you wanted the top expert on American usage, to tell you the meaning of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution ?
That was the question I asked A.C. Brocki, editorial coordinator of the Los Angeles Unified School District and formerly senior editor at Houghton Mifflin Publishers -- who himself had been recommended to me as the foremost expert on English usage in the Los Angeles school system. Mr. Brocki told me to get in touch with Roy Copperud, a retired professor of journalism at the University of Southern California and the author of "American Usage and Style: The Consensus."
A little research lent support to Brocki's opinion of Professor Copperud's expertise.
Roy Copperud was a newspaper writer on major dailies for over three decades before embarking on a a distinguished 17-year career teaching journalism at USC. Since 1952, Copperud has been writing a column dealing with the professional aspects of journalism for "Editor and Publisher", a weekly magazine focusing on the journalism field.
He's on the usage panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and Merriam Webster's Usage Dictionary frequently cites him as an expert. Copperud's fifth book on usage, "American Usage and Style: The Consensus," has been in continuous print from Van Nostrand Reinhold since 1981, and is the winner of the Association of American Publisher's Humanities Award.
That sounds like an expert to me.
After a brief telephone call to Professor Copperud in which I introduced myself but did not give him any indication of why I was interested, I sent the following letter:
"I am writing you to ask you for your professional opinion as an expert in English usage, to analyze the text of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, and extract the intent from the text.
"The text of the Second Amendment is, 'A well-regulated Militia, being necessary for the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.'
"The debate over this amendment has been whether the first part of the sentence, 'A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State', is a restrictive clause or a subordinate clause, with respect to the independent clause containing the subject of the sentence, 'the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.'
"I would request that your analysis of this sentence not take into consideration issues of political impact or public policy, but be restricted entirely to a linguistic analysis of its meaning and intent. Further, since your professional analysis will likely become part of litigation regarding the consequences of the Second Amendment, I ask that whatever analysis you make be a professional opinion that you would be willing to stand behind with your reputation, and even be willing to testify under oath to support, if necessary."
My letter framed several questions about the test of the Second Amendment, then concluded:
"I realize that I am asking you to take on a major responsibility and task with this letter. I am doing so because, as a citizen, I believe it is vitally important to extract the actual meaning of the Second Amendment. While I ask that your analysis not be affected by the political importance of its results, I ask that you do this because of that importance."
After several more letters and phone calls, in which we discussed terms for his doing such an analysis, but in which we never discussed either of our opinions regarding the Second Amendment, gun control, or any other political subject, Professor Copperud sent me the follow analysis (into which I have inserted my questions for the sake of clarity):
[Copperud:] "The words 'A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state,' contrary to the interpretation cited in your letter of July 26, 1991, constitutes a present participle, rather than a clause. It is used as an adjective, modifying 'militia,' which is followed by the main clause of the sentence (subject 'the right', verb 'shall'). The to keep and bear arms is asserted as an essential for maintaining a militia.
"In reply to your numbered questions:
[Schulman:] "(1) Can the sentence be interpreted to grant the right to keep and bear arms solely to 'a well-regulated militia'?"
[Copperud:] "(1) The sentence does not restrict the right to keep and bear arms, nor does it state or imply possession of the right elsewhere or by others than the people; it simply makes a positive statement with respect to a right of the people."
[Schulman:] "(2) Is 'the right of the people to keep and bear arms' granted by the words of the Second Amendment, or does the Second Amendment assume a preexisting right of the people to keep and bear arms, and merely state that such right 'shall not be infringed'?"
[Copperud:] "(2) The right is not granted by the amendment; its existence is assumed. The thrust of the sentence is that the right shall be preserved inviolate for the sake of ensuring a militia."
[Schulman:] "(3) Is the right of the people to keep and bear arms conditioned upon whether or not a well regulated militia, is, in fact necessary to the security of a free State, and if that condition is not existing, is the statement 'the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed' null and void?"
[Copperud:] "(3) No such condition is expressed or implied. The right to keep and bear arms is not said by the amendment to depend on the existence of a militia. No condition is stated or implied as to the relation of the right to keep and bear arms and to the necessity of a well-regulated militia as a requisite to the security of a free state. The right to keep and bear arms is deemed unconditional by the entire sentence."
[Schulman:] "(4) Does the clause 'A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,' grant a right to the government to place conditions on the 'right of the people to keep and bear arms,' or is such right deemed unconditional by the meaning of the entire sentence?"
[Copperud:] "(4) The right is assumed to exist and to be unconditional, as previously stated. It is invoked here specifically for the sake of the militia."
[Schulman:] "(5) Which of the following does the phrase 'well-regulated militia' mean: 'well-equipped', 'well-organized,' 'well-drilled,' 'well-educated,' or 'subject to regulations of a superior authority'?"
[Copperud:] "(5) The phrase means 'subject to regulations of a superior authority;' this accords with the desire of the writers for civilian control over the military."
[Schulman:] "(6) (If at all possible, I would ask you to take account the changed meanings of words, or usage, since that sentence was written 200 years ago, but not take into account historical interpretations of the intents of the authors, unless those issues can be clearly separated."
[Copperud:] "To the best of my knowledge, there has been no change in the meaning of words or in usage that would affect the meaning of the amendment. If it were written today, it might be put: "Since a well-regulated militia is necessary tot he security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged.'
[Schulman:] "As a 'scientific control' on this analysis, I would also appreciate it if you could compare your analysis of the text of the Second Amendment to the following sentence,
"A well-schooled electorate, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and read Books, shall not be infringed.'
"My questions for the usage analysis of this sentence would be,
"(1) Is the grammatical structure and usage of this sentence and the way the words modify each other, identical to the Second Amendment's sentence?; and
"(2) Could this sentence be interpreted to restrict 'the right of the people to keep and read Books' _only_ to 'a well-educated electorate' -- for example, registered voters with a high-school diploma?"
[Copperud:] "(1) Your 'scientific control' sentence precisely parallels the amendment in grammatical structure.
"(2) There is nothing in your sentence that either indicates or implies the possibility of a restricted interpretation."
Professor Copperud had only one additional comment, which he placed in his cover letter: "With well-known human curiosity, I made some speculative efforts to decide how the material might be used, but was unable to reach any conclusion."
So now we have been told by one of the top experts on American usage what many knew all along: the Constitution of the United States unconditionally protects the people's right to keep and bear arms, forbidding all governments formed under the Constitution from abridging that right.
As I write this, the attempted coup against constitutional government in the Soviet Union has failed, apparently because the will of the people in that part of the world to be free from capricious tyranny is stronger than the old guard's desire to maintain a monopoly on dictatorial power.
And here in the United States, elected lawmakers, judges, and appointed officials who are pledged to defend the Constitution of the United States ignore, marginalize, or prevaricate about the Second Amendment routinely. American citizens are put in American prisons for carrying arms, owning arms of forbidden sorts, or failing to satisfy bureaucratic requirements regarding the owning and carrying of firearms -- all of which is an abridgement of the unconditional right of the people to keep and bear arms, guaranteed by the Constitution.
And even the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), staunch defender of the rest of the Bill of Rights, stands by and does nothing.
it seems it is up to those who believe in the right to keep and bear arms to preserve that right. no one else will. No one else can. Will we beg our elected representatives not to take away our rights, and continue regarding them as representing us if they do? Will we continue obeying judges who decide that the Second Amendment doesn't mean what it says it means but means whatever they say it means in their Orwellian doublespeak ?
Or will be simply keep and bear the arms of our choice, as the Constitution of the United States promises us we can, and pledge that we will defend that promise with our lives, our fortuned, and our sacred honor ?
(C) 1991 by The New Gun Week and Second Amendment Foundation. Informational reproduction of the entire article is hereby authorized provided the author, The New Gun Week and Second Amendment Foundation are credited. All other rights reserved.
About the Author
J. Neil Schulman is the award-winning author of novels endorsed by Anthony Burgess and Nobel-economist Milton Friedman, and writer of the CBS "Twilight Zone" episode in which a time-traveling historian prevents the JFK assassination. He's also the founder and president of SoftServ Publishing, the first publishing company to distribute "paperless books" via personal computers and modems.
Most recently, Schulman has founded the Committee to Enforce the Second Amendment (CESA), through which he intends to see the individual's right to keep and bear arms recognized as a constitutional protection equal to those afforded in the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth amendments.
J. Neil Schulman may be reached through:
The SoftServ Paperless Bookstore, 24-hour bbs: 213-827-3160 (up to 9600 baud).
J. Neil Schulman PO Box 94, Long Beach, CA 90801-0094.
GEnie address: SOFTSERV
Seems to me that the Militia Act of 1792 covers who’s in the militia; and, that would be every male in the country between 18 and 45.
The Militia Act of 1792, Passed May 8, 1792, providing federal standards for the organization of the Militia.
An ACT more effectually to provide for the National Defence, by establishing an Uniform Militia throughout the United States.
I. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this Act. And it shall at all time hereafter be the duty of every such Captain or Commanding Officer of a company, to enroll every such citizen as aforesaid, and also those who shall, from time to time, arrive at the age of 18 years, or being at the age of 18 years, and under the age of 45 years (except as before excepted) shall come to reside within his bounds; and shall without delay notify such citizen of the said enrollment, by the proper non-commissioned Officer of the company, by whom such notice may be proved. That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack. That the commissioned Officers shall severally be armed with a sword or hanger, and espontoon; and that from and after five years from the passing of this Act, all muskets from arming the militia as is herein required, shall be of bores sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound; and every citizen so enrolled, and providing himself with the arms, ammunition and accoutrements, required as aforesaid, shall hold the same exempted from all suits, distresses, executions or sales, for debt or for the payment of taxes.
As is clearly stated in the article, you do not have to be in the militia for the Second Amendment to apply to you.
This is nothing short of great, but I think it leaves out a very important element.
One cannot fully understand the intentions, thoughts and meanings of the Constitution and the Amendments without reading their other writings on the same subjects.
I believe these, even more than the logical, lucent thoughts of this great journalist, tell us what the founders real intentions were.
They must be added to the above, and are even more important than an analysis of the words and structure.
It is by omitting the other writings and words of our founders and using the Constitution’s words alone that the Marxists succeed in re-interpreting our Constitution for their own warped goals.
>> One cannot fully understand the intentions, thoughts and meanings of the Constitution and the Amendments without reading their other writings on the same subjects.
And by doing that you find out they wanted us so well armed that we could over throw our government if it stopped abiding by the Constitution. That we would take up our privately held arms and kill them.
In your missive you stated the following:"And by doing that you find out they wanted us so well armed that we could over throw our government if it stopped abiding by the Constitution. That we would take up our privately held arms and kill them."
I, not being an eloquent person, find that your perceptions to be beyond question, and your abilities to elucidate without pretense, brilliant....
Or as my comrades would harken to agreement....
Not only their writings, but their action or inaction. After the Revolution, did the Founders confiscate or pass laws restricting firearms? Had they not believed individuals had the right to guns, they would have restricted the ownership? Especially after the Whiskey Rebellion.
It is in a sense similar to the original meaning of the Commerce Clause, in that "regulating commerce" implies making it regular and unimpeded, whether by tariff or other statute.
Most of the arguments about the Second Amendment made by both sides revolve around a single assumption - that the Second Amendment grants a citizen the right to bear arms. What both sides fail to understand is that the Second Amendment grants no such right, in fact, the Constitution grants no rights at all!
What the Constitution does do is identify what powers the people grant to the government. This is the whole purpose of the Constitution - to tell the government what it can and cannot do, our Constitution is a limit on government.
That is why Marxists, Socialist, Progressive Democrats like Obama hate our Constitution because it is a limitation on Government not a limitation on We The People.....
Read the Second Amendment closely, it doesnt say the people have a right to bear arms but rather that the
government cannot infringe on that right. The framers of our Constitution believed that our right ot bear arms is a natural right,not a right to be given to us by government.
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.
Thets it, that is the whole 2nd Amendment...where does it say that the government gives us any right? It doesnt, it only says that the government cannot infringe on our rights.
Today, when a concerted effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals- that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government- that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizens protection against the government. Ayn Rand
"Okay, you can have your 'rifle', the same type the colonists had."I do love that replay as by that they show their complete ignorance of firearms and American History. Because many of the Colonists had the 'assault rile' of their time - the 'Rifled Musket' , aka Kentucky Rifle, etc (rifled being the operative word). While the Brit Army still used Smooth Bore Muskets.
It was thanks to that rifled barrel that the first Snipers came about. Thanks to the accuracy and distance which the 'rifling' added to the bullet while in flight we were able to pick off Brit Officers from a distance that their smooth bore muskets were incapable of (yes, very unsporting I know).
So technically, by their own argument we should not only have what our Military does, but the LATEST of weapons off a factory floor! Explain that to a Libtard that'll keep his yap shut for a minute and then watch his head explode.
Exactly.....The 2nd says basically, Hey FERAL Government keep your hands off of the Citizen weapons, you have not rights to them and you never will.
What is so difficult about that.
What I luv about the Libtards when they ‘give in’ on guns / ‘assault rifles’ and say something like:
“Okay, you can have your ‘rifle’, the same type the colonists had.”
My reply is always “So I take it you think that “Freedom of the press” only includes a manual one sheet printing press as they existed at the time, and nothing else? No electronic media of any kind?
Don't they always answer that with something utterly idiotic like: "Oh, but that's different."
Then they walk away.
The gubmint is free to listen to your phone calls and read your emails ...since these were not around at the time the 4th Amendment was incorporated. (wearing my leftard hat)
And apparently that’s how The Regime reads it:
Justice Department Expands Hunt for Data on Cellphones
Obamas NSA eavesdropping goes beyond that of Bush... after campaigning on the promise of: No warrantless wiretaps if you elect me!
headlines read: NSA Exceeds Legal Limits In Eavesdropping Program , U.S. phone intercepts go beyond legal limits , and NSA Found Improperly Spying on Americans.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.