Wednesday, October 11, 2017 1:00 am
Second Amendment due for modern review
In the next few weeks, we're going to be hearing a lot about gun control (or a lack thereof). Part of the conversation will naturally be about the constitutional right to bear arms, so it's important to look closely at the language and, specifically, at the grammatical construction of the single sentence that comprises the Second Amendment, as it is a window into the purpose of the framers.
The Second Amendment 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.”
This adheres to the rhetorical form of a periodic sentence, which typically presents a string of modifying elements introductory to the main clause. Here, the modifying element is the phrase “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state,” which is what grammarians call a nominative absolute. The function of the absolute is unique in that it does not modify any word or phrase in the main clause directly; its function is to establish the context, situation or cause for the action of the main clause, in this case, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
Clearly, according to the language of the Second Amendment, the reason for keeping and bearing arms was so that a “well-regulated militia,” drawn from the ranks of male citizens, could be at the ready. In the late 18th century, the militia in the U.S. was made up of ordinary citizens who became “well-regulated” by regular training, which was voluntary (and not mandatory as it is in Switzerland today – which is why there's a gun in every Swiss household).
Today, the “militia” is the National Guard, a supplemental fighting force, among other things, which, while drawn from the ranks of citizen volunteers, does not in any sense owe its effectiveness to all citizens keeping and bearing arms. I would argue that, by extension, the cause-and-effect relationship in the language of the Second Amendment no longer applies.
The laws regarding our right to bear arms should be reviewed and revised to fit the needs of modern society.
John F. McRae
Ready for next tragedy
Just keep the flags at half-staff. Absent intellectual honesty about the role of guns in our country and moral outrage about the devastation caused to our nation by them, the next mass shooting is just weeks or months down the road.
Drain the swamp? It's murkier with Trump
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned because of the uproar over his use of expensive charter flights in lieu of commercial airline flights. Price's travel expenditures, though not corrupt, were also not scrupulous.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke dismissed the controversy as “a little B.S. over travel.” He had his own use of charter flights preapproved as “legal” by Interior ethics officials. The use of Interior officials is like having the fox guard the hen house. Anyway, “legal” does not mean morally proper.
President Donald Trump was upset with Price's expenses; perhaps he should consider his use of his own properties. The cost to taxpayers to use his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, his Bedminster resort in New Jersey and his Trump Tower are legal but not acceptable. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee, introduced legislation to prohibit federal spending at Trump-owned hotels, resorts and other Trump-owned businesses.
One of Trump's campaign promises was to drain the swamp. Let's drain the swamp swiftly by pulling the biggest plug, the cork named Donald Trump. Of course, it is hard to remember your objective is to drain the swamp when you are up to your tail in alligators.