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#70522 - 05/19/02 01:37 AM First, define your terms  
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Power to the people...but who (or what) are (is) the people?

The problem is more basic than the ambiguous sentence strcture. I think most of the disagreement around the issue of whether the amendment is referring to people=individuals or People=collectively.

Members of one faction proclaim that they are guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms themselves, individually. The other extreme reserves that to The People, with no rights at all granted to the individual.

Whether the Militia is a spontaneously-coalescing group of individuals, or a preplanned (governmentally-sanctioned) organization, is equally ambiguous.

With two undefined terms open to diametrically opposed readings, it's no wonder that disputes arise - even if the sentence had been perfectly constructed.

(And don't even _think_ of addressing the question of whom we are to be protected from: external enemies or the government itself? )


#70523 - 05/19/02 01:56 AM Re: Second Amendment Question  
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Stupid. Stupid. Stupid me. Why didn't I understand that you were talking about style, not meaning. Well, I, for one, for sure, know that commas can clarify or obscure, the transfer of meaning from one entity to another.

But convention be damned, are we to discuss social applications of language for our own pretense or amusement, or are we here to advance the art of communication?



#70524 - 05/19/02 12:58 PM Re: Second Amendment Question  
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Amusement...check!
Pretension...hope not!
Advance the art of communication...most definitely!

But we are powerless to remove that historical comma, and there's the rub.


#70525 - 05/19/02 01:21 PM Re: Second Amendment Question  
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The 2nd Amendment decreed "the right of the people to bear Arms"...and, thus, the sleeveless t-shirt was born!


#70526 - 05/19/02 02:12 PM Re: Second Amendment Question  
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Oh, not the right of the people to arm bears?

Since the dependent clause, "A well-regulated militia, being essential....." stipulates something other than a willy-nilly, ragtag bunch of gun toters, the wording seems to suggest that the arming of military or paramilitary functions of the state was the intent. However, the revolution was fought by a ragtag bunch of citizen soldiers, not a true army in the normal sense. Because our world is so different from the world of 1789, ought we to view our needs in the same way? As a personal aside, I'm a gun owner myself, but not an NRA type gun owner. I do believe that since the intent of the Second Ammendment was the maintenance of freedom, certain people must be enjoined from gun ownership. Those not well-trained in their proper use have no business with them, as they constitute a danger to themselves and others. Of course, criminals must be barred from gun possession, but how does one stop such possession? Shall we execute every person who commits a crime with a gun? Will we be invaded by gun-toting troops, or will more sophisticated weaponry be brought to bear, as was the case on 9/11? Oh - this is getting into the political arena, so I'd better shut up!


#70527 - 05/19/02 02:39 PM Re: Second Amendment Question  
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Geoff, I think you've hit upon a pretty important point, politics aside.

Go back to "well regulated Militia"; consider "well regulated"; consider "well."

The people, by stated right, according to the sentence, may "keep" and "bear" arms. But this collective "militia"--the guns in the hands of the people who choose to keep and bear them, is to be "well regulated."

That's where we are now--defining what "well regulated" means in realistic application. Wow, is that something to consider: The meaning of regulation, and not just regulation, but regulation that has been "well" regulated. What is the meaning of "well" here? I feel a Clintonian moment breaking forth in my brain...

Best regards,
WW


#70528 - 05/19/02 03:32 PM Re: Second Amendment Question  
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I feel a Clintonian moment breaking forth in my brain...

Well, WW, if you DO inhale, make sure it's smokeless powder; that old-fashioned Revolutionary War black powder can give you quite buzz! And don't you dare ask me how I know! (Fifth Ammendment time)




#70529 - 05/19/02 03:42 PM Re: Second Amendment Question  
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the guns in the hands of the people who choose to keep and bear them, is to be "well regulated."

Yes, that's the crux of the matter. Does a group of paranoiacs, afraid of the very government they claim to espouse, constitute a "well regulated" organization? Ought they to be included in the fundamental system of governmental checks and balances, or are they a threat to "well regulated" government? On the other side, as has been noted by others, are the anti-gun fanatics not just as much a threat to the Constitution? "Well," and by whom?


#70530 - 05/19/02 04:20 PM Re: Smoking Black Powder  
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Really? How odd. How odd of people to smoke the strange things they smoke.

I was just remembering yesterday that my mother had admitted to smoking rabbit grass as a child. I don't imagine it's illegal, but, really... Where do we get these ideas? "Hey! Here's a substance! Let's see what happens when we inhale it! And Let's go ahead and fire it up to get an extra charge!" Do human beings regularly go around looking for things to light up? Such as black powder? Or talcum powder? Or whatever else?

'Tis a mystery to me. ("Hey! Don't throw out that old carpet! Let's light it up and smoke it and see what happens!"--Geez!)


#70531 - 05/19/02 09:56 PM Re: Smoking Black Powder  
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Really? How odd. How odd of people to smoke the strange things they smoke.

Awww, WW, I was pulling your leg. I thought you were referring to Willie's saying that he'd tried marijuana, but he didn't inhale. One couldn't really smoke black powder, since it's quite explosive. It does, however, produce a LOT of smoke. Modern firearms powders are called "smokeless" for good reason! They also burn at a much slower, and more controlled rate, than the old charcoal/saltpeter/sulfur mixtures of yore. However, quite a few people today like to shoot black powder guns, and one can even buy a new one. Slow loading, smelly as hell, but fun!


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