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Posted: 3/14/2006 11:44:02 AM EDT
Why Commas are Important: It is important to use the proper Second Amendment because it is clearly and flawlessly written in its original form. Also, the function of the words, "a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state," are readily discerned when the proper punctuation is used. On the other hand, the gratuitous addition of commas serve only to render the sentence grammatically incorrect and unnecessarily ambiguous.

After numerous revisions, the House voted on September 21 1789 to accept the changes made by the Senate, however the Amendment as finally entered into the House journal contained the additional words "necessary to":

"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."

On December 15, 1791, the Virginia legislature ratified the Bill of Rights, rounding out the requisite three-fourths of the states needed to make the Amendments part of the Constitution.

Now, with regard to the "commas" question in the Second Amendment....

(from wikipedia, but there are other sources as well)


There is some question as to whether the Second Amendment contains a comma after the word "militia", and a parallel debate as to whether the presence or lack of this comma influences the overall meaning of the Amendment.

Both the U.S. Senate Journal and the Annals of Congress show the final version of the Second Amendment as not containing this comma. On September 25, 1789, the completed Bill of Rights was written to parchment by a House scribe. In this version, now held by the National Archives, the comma was inserted. All other surviving original texts of the Bill of Rights, including the copies sent to the states for ratification, do not contain the comma.

Comparing versions of this and other Amendments as officially enrolled in the journals, as they were progressively modified and sent between chambers, shows that scribes of the era took liberty with the capitalization and punctuation of text they wrote.

The U.S. Government is inconsistent in the use of the comma in publications. The Statutes at Large (the official permanent record of all laws enacted) does not include the comma . The Government Printing Office (GPO) has produced versions both with and without this comma.

So, flame on, argue, debate, enlighten, but the bottom line is this... there is only ONE comma in the Second Amendment, not three, or four, but one.


Link Posted: 3/14/2006 11:48:41 AM EDT
Fine, but the meaning of the ammendment doesn't change one bit with or without it. In fact, four commas wouldn't change the meaning.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 11:49:37 AM EDT

Tench Coxe on the Second Amendment
Whereas civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as military forces, which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.
Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution




Tench Coxe on the Militia
Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American .. the unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.
Tench Coxe, Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.

Link Posted: 3/14/2006 11:50:08 AM EDT

but the bottom line is this... there is only ONE comma in the Second Amendment, not three, or four, but one.


Yeah, so?
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 11:50:41 AM EDT

Originally Posted By SubnetMask:
Fine, but the meaning of the ammendment doesn't change one bit with or without it. In fact, four commas wouldn't change the meaning.



I disagree, compare these two sentences...

"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 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."


Link Posted: 3/14/2006 11:52:30 AM EDT

Originally Posted By SubnetMask:
Fine, but the meaning of the ammendment doesn't change one bit with or without it. In fact, four commas wouldn't change the meaning.



Untrue as a general principle of law. One misplaced comma or unintended reading of "And" instead of "or" can drastically change things.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 11:58:19 AM EDT

Originally Posted By cheaptrickfan:

Originally Posted By SubnetMask:
Fine, but the meaning of the ammendment doesn't change one bit with or without it. In fact, four commas wouldn't change the meaning.



I disagree, compare these two sentences...

"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 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 did and I don't see how it changes the meaning grammaticaly. It's just an improper use of commas.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 12:01:22 PM EDT

Originally Posted By pulpsmack:

Originally Posted By SubnetMask:
Fine, but the meaning of the ammendment doesn't change one bit with or without it. In fact, four commas wouldn't change the meaning.



Untrue as a general principle of law. One misplaced comma or unintended reading of "And" instead of "or" can drastically change things.



Only when applied as "black letter law" , this is why our entire justice system is built upon the trial by jury system, 'the letter of the law kills, the spirit of the law brings life everlasting."


THOMAS JEFFERSON (1789): I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.




"... of the liberty of conscience in matters of religious faith, of speech and of the press; of the trail by jury of the vicinage in civil and criminal cases; of the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus; of the right to keep and bear arms.... If these rights are well defined, and secured against encroachment, it is impossible that government should ever degenerate into tyranny." - James Monroe



jury has an " unreviewable and irreversible power... to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge.... (US vs Dougherty, 473 F 2d 1113, 1139 (1972)

If the jury feels that the law under which the defendant is accused, is unjust, or that exigent circumstances justified the actions of the accused, or for any reason which appeals to their logic of passion, the jury has the power to acquit, and the courts must abide by that decision." (US vs Moylan, 417 F 2d 1002, 1006 (1969)).

Link Posted: 3/14/2006 12:07:51 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2006 12:09:19 PM EDT by SubnetMask]

Originally Posted By pulpsmack:

Originally Posted By SubnetMask:
Fine, but the meaning of the ammendment doesn't change one bit with or without it. In fact, four commas wouldn't change the meaning.



Untrue as a general principle of law. One misplaced comma or unintended reading of "And" instead of "or" can drastically change things.



I'm sorry, but I just don't see how.

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state," consitutes a present participle with or without the extra comma. "Well regulated" is still an adjective modifying "milita", etc. I really don't see how additional commas change any of this.

I'm not an English expert by any stretch of the imagination, so please don't think I'm steadfastly asserting that I'm right. I just don't understand how commas change the actual meaning.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 12:09:47 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2006 12:10:04 PM EDT by PBIR]
"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."

Doesn't change anything, the phrase "being necessary to the security of a free state" still attaches to "a well regulated militia" when punctuated that way. Like Subnet said, all that does is give us an example of improper comma usage.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 12:10:28 PM EDT
The fundamental problem with the theory that the number of commas matters is that in the 18th Century spelling and grammar rules were not yet established. The English language at that time was pretty much a make-the-rules-as-you-go thing.

One cannot apply 20th and 21st Century grammar standards to 18th Century writings.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 12:21:49 PM EDT
All that matters is that is a right of the People, not the militia, not the national guard, not the states. Just as the remainder of the Bill of Rights.

Use it or lose it.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 12:40:32 PM EDT
The phrase becomes a little less ambiguous if you stick an implied "with" at the beginning:

(With) 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."

Another bit of 2nd Amendment trivia:

In the United States Constitution, the word "state" (in the context of a governmental entity) appears 83 times. However, the phrase "the people" appears only 9 times — a scarcity that suggests that it was purposefully chosen. The only one of those 9 instances where "the people" has ever been seriously argued to mean something other than "individual citizens" is when it appears in the 2nd Amendment.
Link Posted: 3/15/2006 12:21:34 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/15/2006 12:24:12 AM EDT by GunLogic]
It's unfortunate they didn't simply say: The right of the People to keep bear arms shall not be infringed.

The way it's written, it appears to be giving a reason why that right shall not be infringed. The reason can be disputed. It reads now as if it said: Because a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

We, of course, understand that it's the security of a free state that is the essential concept, and that a "well regulated militia" was simply the way they envisioned that security as being upheld. In the present world of standing armies, we understand that security being upheld somewhat differently, and could say: Because a well armed Citizenry is necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. That was what they were getting at. The Citizenry were the Militia.

GL

"The 2nd Amendment is the RESET button of the United States Constitution."

Link Posted: 3/15/2006 1:27:57 AM EDT
If the Second were written by me....

1. A well regulated militia (being necessary to the security of a free State) shall not be infringed.

2. The right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed
Link Posted: 3/15/2006 10:49:47 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/15/2006 10:50:16 AM EDT by GunLvrPHD]

Originally Posted By GunLogic:
It's unfortunate they didn't simply say: The right of the People to keep bear arms shall not be infringed.



The liberals would have just redefined the term People to their own liking via judicial fiat.
Link Posted: 3/15/2006 12:46:37 PM EDT
I guess I'm just a simpleton,as I read the 2nd Admendment, it simply states that the people have a RIGHT to keep (Own) and if necessary to keep thier state free ban togeather and form a militia to do so and the Government canot stop this.. the first ten admendments deal with individual rights, why would the second deal with a states right only? and the 10th Admen. states thar just because a certain right isn't explicitlystated here doesn't mean that you don't have that right..
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