The Second Amendment has two clauses, and both are essential to interpretation

The Second Amendment has two clauses, and both are essential to interpretation

The recent mass shootings in Boulder and Atlanta once again raise challenging issues regarding the constitutional limits on gun control under the Second Amendment. A recent New Yorker cartoon shows one of the Framers of the Constitution saying, “Just for fun, let’s make what is and isn’t constitutional kind of wishy-washy.” He must have been talking about the Second Amendment. It’s hard to imagine anything more wishy-washy than its convoluted words. The Amendment’s text is as follows: “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.” A non-wishy-washy amendment would simply have included the right without a preliminary justification. It would declare the substance of right, as the First Amendment and other amendments do: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” But it didn’t. It set out the right only after describing the justification for that right. And in doing so, it deliberately included the words “well regulated.” To be sure, these words modify the word “militia,” but the entire first clause modifies the right itself in the second clause. Midland Ace Hardware manager of sporting goods Jon Leiner assists a customer in purchasing a rifle Thursday, Feb. 11, at the store in Midland, Mich. I know this sounds a bit convoluted, but that is because the amendment itself is convoluted. No school of constitutional interpretation would simply ignore the first clause or deem […]

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