Tired of listening to Progressives tell you that the Second Amendment only allows people in militias to keep and bear arms? Or that the Founders would have never intended the Second Amendment to apply to modern weapons? In his latest FIREWALL Bill recounts a remarkable conversation about the precise wording of the Second Amendment, and sums up why the document says what it means and means what it says. See the video and transcript below:
YOUR SECOND AMENDMENT
Hi everybody. I’m Bill Whittle and this is the Firewall.
Just as a quick public service announcement in these days of increasing lawlessness, Federal encroachment on constitutional limits, and crybaby Progressive whininess in general, I thought I might take a moment to pass out a little rhetorical ammunition to those hear from those who, if they can no longer pretend the Second Amendment exists, then at least try to misinterpret it to the best of their ability.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States 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.
Progressives read this and say that only those people in “a well-regulated militia” have the right to keep and bear arms. Let’s find out why this is utter nonsense, shall we?
Over at the Constitution Society, author J. Neil Schulman conducted a remarkable exercise. He sent the text of the Second Amendment not to a lawyer but to an expert on the English Language: Roy Copperud taught Journalism at USC for 17 years and served on the usage panel of the American Heritage Dictionary. Mirriam Webster’s dictionary frequently cites him as an expert on American English usage.
Paraphrasing their remarkable exchange here, Shulman asked Ciopperud the following questions:
“Can the sentence be interpreted to grant the right to keep and bear arms solely to ‘a well-regulated militia’?”
Copperud replied “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 then asked if the right to keep and bear arms was granted by the Constitution, or whether that right preexisted the Constitution.
Copperud: 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.”
Shulman: ”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: “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…The right to keep and bear arms is deemed unconditional by the entire sentence.”
Shulman concludes with an example even a Progressive could understand. He sent Mr. Copperud a precisely grammatically identical 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.” Does that mean, he asked, that only a well-schooled electorate — high school graduates, say — are the only ones with the right to keep and read books?
To which Mr. Copperud replied, “There is nothing in your sentence that either indicates or implies the possibility of a restricted interpretation.”
So, what does the Second Amendment actually say, according to an expert on the American usage of the English language?
1. A well-regulated militia is one of the nice things that an armed population can provide, but it’s not the only thing, and it’s not the reason to arm the People.
2. The right to keep and bear arms is reserved to the people, not to the militia. This makes sense because a militia is a group of citizens, who, unlike an army, bring their own weapons with them. That’s why it says the people can not only bear arms — they can keep them. At home. Where they live.
3. The right of the people to be armed is not granted by the Second Amendment. That right is inherent in the People, and the Second Amendment says that the government cannot infringe upon that right.
Finally, you might hear Progressives say, well, that right was written back in the days of flintlock muskets! They never would have approved of such a thing in the days of automatic weapons!
Why not? A flintlock musket was the deadliest weapon available at the time. Why didn’t they limit their definition of “arms” to pointy sticks? They placed no limitations on the numbers of the weapons or their lethality.
And if the second Amendment only applies to flintlock muskets, does that mean your First Amendment right to freedom of speech applies only to what you write on parchment in quill and ink, or as far as the sound of your voice can carry in a town square? Of course not. Why, that would be ridiculous.