A Question Of Commas

This is a discussion on A Question Of Commas within the The Second Amendment & Gun Legislation Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Looks like the SCOTUS will start Friday on the 2A case. Will it come down to commas? http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1194429843256...

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Thread: A Question Of Commas

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array ronwill's Avatar
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    A Question Of Commas

    Looks like the SCOTUS will start Friday on the 2A case. Will it come down to commas?

    http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1194429843256

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    Member Array S3ymour's Avatar
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    Its definitely a huge issue as private interpretation of a single sentence really does come down to the grammar of the time it was written. It must be taken in the context of its original creators. To say that it only applies to militia's is absurd as at the time the people were the militia. Any man, woman or child who could hold a gun to defend their life, lands and liberty was part of a militia.

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    Distinguished Member Array Bob The Great's Avatar
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    That 3rd comma has been scrutinized several times that I've seen, and nobody has been able to grammatically get around the fact that there are two separate and distinct phrases in the amendment, even with all the commas ignored. It'll be an interesting case...
    "A well-educated electorate, being necessary to the continuance of a free state, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed."
    Is this hard to understand? Then why does it get unintelligible to some people when 5 little words are changed?

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    VIP Member Array Rob99VMI04's Avatar
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    But heres the problem even with the comma argument.

    What part of BILL of Rights don't you understand!!!!!!

    PS: If you want to play the litteral game then fine: the right of the people(<--) to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed!!! Your infringing on my right to have new class III "GIVE THEM BACK"


    Quote Originally Posted by S3ymour View Post
    Its definitely a huge issue as private interpretation of a single sentence really does come down to the grammar of the time it was written. It must be taken in the context of its original creators. To say that it only applies to militia's is absurd as at the time the people were the militia. Any man, woman or child who could hold a gun to defend their life, lands and liberty was part of a militia.
    “Are you a thermometer or a thermostat, do you reflect or become what is happening in the room or do you change the atmosphere, reset the temperature when you come into the room”?--Chuck Swindoll

    Its not about guns...Its about Freedom!

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    THE UNABRIDGED SECOND AMENDMENT partI

    The following is reprinted from the September 13, 1991 issue of GUN WEEK

    THE UNABRIDGED SECOND AMENDMENT

    by J. Neil Schulman

    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 Schwartzkopf, no question about it. But who would you call if you wanted the top expert on American usage, to tell you the meaning of theSecond Amendment to the United States Constitution?
    That was the question I asked Mr. 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 distinguished seventeen-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 Publishers' 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:

    "July 26, 1991
    "Dear Professor Copperud:
    "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 to 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 text 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.
    "Sincerely,
    "J. Neil Schulman"

    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 following analysis (into which I've inserted my questions for the sake of clarity):

  7. #6
    Member Array LastManOut's Avatar
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    Part Ii

    [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, constitute 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 right to keep and bear arms is asserted as 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 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: If at all possible, I would ask you to take into account the changed meanings of words, or usage, since that sentence was written two-hundred years ago, but not to 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 to the 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, 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 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:] Your "scientific control" sentence precisely parallels the amendment in grammatical structure.
    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 government 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 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 but means whatever they say it means in their Orwellian doublespeak?
    Or will we 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 fortunes, and our sacred honor?

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Copyright (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.

  8. #7
    Member Array S3ymour's Avatar
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    I think you read my post wrong...I agree with the fact that we have the right to bear arms. I was pointing out that at the time any one could be in a militia, and that it was directed to protect the "PEOPLE'S" right to bear arms. You should really read a post thoroughly before attacking someone about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob99VMI04 View Post
    But heres the problem even with the comma argument.

    What part of BILL of Rights don't you understand!!!!!!

    PS: If you want to play the litteral game then fine: the right of the people(<--) to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed!!! Your infringing on my right to have new class III "GIVE THEM BACK"

  9. #8
    AMH
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    The bill of rights went into effect in 1791.

    The National Guard was created in 1903.

    It isn’t hard to figure out what our forefathers wanted or meant. The right to keep and bear arms rest with the people, not the state. The people are the militia. Heck even current federal law says so:

    Federal law 10 USC 311 states:

    (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
    Join the NRA!
    The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. It is about keeping the government in check. This requires that the citizenry is well armed and at all times has immediate access to arms.

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    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    IMHO it will come down to just what is "the people ". and in the spirit of the other 9 amendments of the bill of rights the framers of the constitution clearly ment that " the people " enumerates individual rights . There is not another right that i am aware of that any argument has been made that it is " collective " Our rights are " god given " and pre exist any government thus they are spelled out to limit government , not to enable it . The constitution recognizes , and in fact glorifies the individual . In this sense it is in fact a " living document " as it is as alive and vital today as the day it was written . Just name another document that can say that from the latter 18th century . We live in a constitutional republic , not a democracy, no matter what the lib's say we have not yet devolved to mob rule , at least not in many states . I am confident that the scotus will uphold the 2nd as an individual right subject to restrictions , same as the 1st . Just how many gunlaws will disappear as unreasonable remains to be seen however .
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    Senior Member Array walvord's Avatar
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    The 2nd Amendment means exactly what it says - nothing more or nothing less. To heck with the commas. I may be over 45 years old, but by God I'm still part of the militia.
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    BAC
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    If the basis of this case is going to be one about commas, that means EVERY OTHER Amendment is going to be scrutinized heavily simply because of comma placements. How interesting.


    -B

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    AMH
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    Today is the day people!
    What will happen................
    Oh the suspense!

    P.S.
    Does anyone know the Docket number for this case?
    Join the NRA!
    The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. It is about keeping the government in check. This requires that the citizenry is well armed and at all times has immediate access to arms.

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    Post Erase All Doubt

    The Constitution Of Pennsylvania - 1776

    XIII. That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

    and then later rewritten to read:

    Right to Bear Arms
    Section 21.
    The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.

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    VIP Member Array tns0038's Avatar
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    Just another liberal attack on our constructional rights. At the time our founding fathers felt that “we the people” needed protection from the Government getting out of control.

    Thus Freedom of the Press, and the right of each man woman and child to own a firearm

  16. #15
    AMH
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    Has anybody heard any thing about this? I have been Google-ing it but can’t find a thing. Will we have to wait until Tuesday to hear anything?
    Join the NRA!
    The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. It is about keeping the government in check. This requires that the citizenry is well armed and at all times has immediate access to arms.

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