Thoughts On Heller vs. the District of Columbia

Though I've been paying attention to the Heller vs. The District of Columbia Second Amendment case, I have refrained from commenting other than some vague references now and then. I did catch the oral arguments before the Supreme Court via SCOTUSblog as they live-blogged it, as well as catching their round up of Heller coverage.

Of all the arguments I read, both from in front of the Supremes, as well as on the blogosphere, nowhere did I see any mention of the semantic meaning of the Second Amendment.

"The text of the Second Amendment is, 'A well-regulated Militia, being necessary for the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.'

The verdict? The Second Amendment enumerates an individual right:

"The words 'A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state,' contrary to the interpretation cited in your letter of July 26, 1991, 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 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."

“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."

Read the whole thing for a much more definitive breakdown of the semantics of Second Amendment.

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