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“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.”

One of the most often used arguments against individual gun ownership is that the Second Amendment was meant for militias, which we currently have in the form of the National Guard.

But when you apply basic rules of English and writing to the Second Amendment you find a much different meaning.

The Founding Fathers were extremely intelligent, and demanded that every official document they produced and signed was perfect in every way. That is a key point.

Notice that there is a comma after the word “Militia, and again after the words “free State.” According to all accepted rules of writing and every dictionary, a comma is used as a separation between two similar, but separate thoughts or ideas. In other words, a “well-regulated Militia” and “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” are two separate thoughts that happen to be in the same sentence. Any editor or writer worth his or her salt would understand this. I’ll explain why these two idea are combined in the next paragraph.

What does this mean? Very simply, ideas separated by a comma should be able to stand on their own. So we are actually looking at two different sentences:

  1. “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…..”
  2. The right of the people to keep and to bear Arms…..”

Why did the Founding Fathers put the two thoughts together in the same sentence? Because in doing so they could add the phrase, “shall not be infringed” to the sentence, thus applying it to both ideas without resorting to redundancy.

So what we have are the following freestanding sentences:

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, shall not be infringed.”

“The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

Now those two thoughts make a lot more sense.

The Founding Fathers were merely conserving words and avoiding redundancy by combining two different ideas that shared a common ending into one sentence.

It really is that simple.

 

Ray Baltes