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  • Second Amendment grammar -- the Framers parsed it one way, but will the Supreme Court agree with their analysis?

Comments Mar 15, 2011 11:04 pm

The words 'A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state,' constitutes 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 to keep and bear arms is asserted as an essential for maintaining a militia.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.No conditions are 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 a requisite to the security of a free state. The right to keep and bear arms is deemed unconditional by the entire sentence.Source:Roy Copperud professor of journalism at the University of Southern California and the author of "American Usage and Style: The Consensus. Usage panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and Merriam Webster's Usage Dictionary frequently cites him as an expert.

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