When the Appeals Court overturned the DC gun ban, the NYT finished their Editorial with this paragraph:
A lot has changed since the nation’s founding, when people kept muskets to be ready for militia service. What has not changed is the actual language of the Constitution. To get past the first limiting clauses of the Second Amendment to find an unalienable individual right to bear arms seems to require creative editing.One is tempted to ask questions about the NYT's editing process and whether words mean what the dictionary says or if it is a matter of personal preference, their latest OpEd piece by Adam Freedman has more in common with the fiction he writes than law.
Beyond grappling with fairly esoteric arguments about the Second Amendment, the justices need to responsibly confront modern-day reality. A decision that upends needed gun controls currently in place around the country would imperil the lives of Americans.
The decision invalidating the district’s gun ban, written by Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, cites the second comma (the one after “state”) as proof that the Second Amendment does not merely protect the “collective” right of states to maintain their militias, but endows each citizen with an “individual” right to carry a gun, regardless of membership in the local militia.This gets to the guts of his argument, he's unhappy about the comma, and commas were pretty much optional tag ons at the time. He has a solution for this awkward piece of punctuation.
How does a mere comma do that? According to the court, the second comma divides the amendment into two clauses: one “prefatory” and the other “operative.” On this reading, the bit about a well-regulated militia is just preliminary throat clearing; the framers don’t really get down to business until they start talking about “the right of the people ... shall not be infringed.”
The best way to make sense of the Second Amendment is to take away all the commas (which, I know, means that only outlaws will have commas). Without the distracting commas, one can focus on the grammar of the sentence.Now that we've dispensed with that comma we can get down to the business of dismantling the Second Amendment:
Likewise, when the justices finish diagramming the Second Amendment, they should end up with something that expresses a causal link, like: “Because a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” In other words, the amendment is really about protecting militias, notwithstanding the originalist arguments to the contrary.That seems pretty clear, we take out that nasty comma and things are all fixed up. We've got it all covered, um, except for a couple points, there's the little matter of the definition of militia and even worse is that adjective in front of state - free - which tilts things a tad. So far maybe this seems like legalese hair splitting, but then there is the absolute kicker, people, the word does not appear in the Second alone and it turns the BOR into a diagram for repression if people means State, which it does not.
Advocates of both gun rights and gun control are making a tactical mistake by focusing on the commas of the Second Amendment. After all, couldn’t one just as easily obsess about the founders’ odd use of capitalization? Perhaps the next amicus brief will find the true intent of the amendment by pointing out that “militia” and “state” are capitalized in the original, whereas “people” is not.
The Bill of Rights is not about the government giving people rights, that is a commonly played card of immense falsehood, it is about rights that pre-exist the formation of the government and the government's guarantee that it will stay out of them. A state has no rights other than those conferred on it by its citizens. It has a presumed "right to self-defense" just as the citizenry has the right to smash it as King George III found (not to be confused with the American wannabe kinglet George II). The people are the people, always, to attempt to confuse the word with an organization is only argumentation back from a preconceived point - they are something different because my argument only works if I change a word. Had the Founders meant the word to mean militia they would have used the word militia rather than people, there is absolutely no grammatical reason to use people in place of militia, there is no sense of his meaning that requires people in that part of a sentence. In point of fact, there were people excluded from the militia by law at that time, the words are not interchangeable. They are not equal with or without the comma, the comma only makes that abundantly clear.
The NYT's editors seem to believe that because some things belong within a group, all similar things belong, Because robbers are human and people are human works in this sense - all robbers are people - but it does not work at all in this sense - all people are robbers. Nobody in their right mind tries the latter - well, the NYT certainly does.
This sort of intellectual dishonesty, the re-framing of definitions and class inclusions makes one wonder just how accurate the NYT's reporting really is...