The Constitution, Tragedies, and Grammar


Here we are again—another mass shooting at an American school. However, some of the pain is masked by the on-going Winter Olympics, the Russian meddling that attacks our lives, and more “news” as it occurs. Yet, seventeen more lives and that of the shooter are lost.  All, I offer, by a mis-reading of Amendment II of our Constitution. Allow me to give what I think is a more precise and intended reading of this oft mentioned part of our government.

The Founding Fathers were well-versed in Latin. Their English derived from Latin, and we need to keep that in mind as we read what they wrote. After all, what they wrote is all we have; we cannot ask any of the thirty-nine signers what he or the committee meant. So, with the Second Amendment, we need to possess knowledge of the main clauses from Latin and how they were used in English. A clause is either independent, which means it can, if written with a capital at the beginning and ending with a period, make sense. Thus, the words in bold could stand alone as a sentence. (Because of the gunfire, students hid in closets.)  However, the words in italics cannot stand alone, so they are subordinate, or dependent on the independent, or main clause.

When I write these well-known words as a sentence, they make perfect sense: “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” However, the other oft-quoted words, when written as a sentence, do not make sense: “A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State.” Why? Because it is a clause modifier that supports and explains the reason behind the independent clause which follows. So, by understanding the written words of the Founding Fathers, we see that the reason citizens are allowed to keep “Arms” is for “A well regulated Militia”, and not for any other reason.

All of us suffer from mass shooting. In my reading of The Constitution’s Amendment II, we are given the right to arms as a means for a militia which protects us all from foreign enemies. It does not give us the right to own for the purpose of killing other citizens or any other reason.


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