Friday, June 27, 2008

June 27, 2008

     It's odd, I know, but I've always thought the comma was important, the second comma that is.


     The Second Amendment reads, "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 comma separates the clause about a militia from the simple declarative clause that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be messed with.  I understand all the arguments for gun control--fewer guns, fewer murders, and so on--but if the Supreme Court is supposed to interpret the Constitution, not issue decrees to make the country better, then I think the Justices got it right when they ruled Washington D.C.'s ban on handgun ownership unconstitutional.


     Members of militias back then tended, I suspect, to show up at the assembly point carrying their own weapons which they had kept at home.  They didn't expect the government to issue them a new one. Many back then lived in the country, not the cities;  many probably used those weapons to hunt for food.


     And if Americans really want to ban handguns, they can, of course, by amending the Constitution.  We've amended it over the years to rid it of several bad things, like slavery.  We imposed and then junked prohibition.  We gave women the right to vote.  If two-thirds of the House and Senate and three-fourths of the states approve a proposed amendment, it takes effect.


     I very much doubt there's enough support in the country for a handgun banning amendment, but if there is, there's a way to do it.  Proving, again, that the Constitution is a fine and durable piece of parchment, well worth the keeping.






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