Be sure to vote, I am curious where most atheists stand on this issue.

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The 2nd Amendment states - "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."  To me this has always meant that there may be a necessity for normal everyday people to take up arms in defence of the country as members of the militia.  I do not believe it was the intention of the founding fathers that weapons should be freely available to all and sundry to carry on their person as and when they choose without let or hindrance!  But then again I'm a brit so what do I know?

As a U.S, citizen I read it the same way. 

I third that.

:)

I fourth it!

And you are all wrong.  If you wish to know the intent of the founding fathers for the 2nd Amendment then read the Federalist Papers.

A governed people cannot form a Militia to defend themselves and their Free State, if they have no arms (ie. weapons of common usage). 

All gun-control laws are direct violations of the 2nd Amendment, "shall not be infringed." is obligatory and not open to interpretation, it is a directive not a suggestion.

The Constitution and it's Amendments are Prime Law and hold sway over all other laws where they conflict.

The Constitution is a living document and can be changed by a new amendment, if the elected officials don't like the 2nd Amendment, they can follow the rules and change it. 

But instead following the rules they violate them, while at the same time expecting us to obey the rules they themselves pass into new laws.  The hypocrisy of this is palpable and disrespectful of all those who have given theirs lives to establish and protect the freedom and liberty we all now enjoy.

Stay Armed, Stay Free.

Right on Gregg! It would be nice to have leaders who actually followed our constitution rather than trying to work around it and create loop holes that were never there. I wish we could go back to when times were simpler and our government was actually working for the good of the people rather than the good of their pocket books....

Gregg. What you miss is the "A well regulated Militia" part.. Now, we had a militia at the time because we had no standing military force. Why? Because several of the Founding Fathers distrusted a formal military and felt it could be used to over-throw the government. That said, we currently have no federally backed militias. Why? Because we have a standing military force, which makes the idea of militias an obsolete concept. That being the case, there is no infringement of the 2nd Amendment if there are no  militias.. 

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

It says "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state". Note the comma, then it says "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". The militia wouldn't be a militia without guns. The second part says in no uncertain terms that the "people" have the right to keep and bear arms. And further, "shall not be infringed". I really don't understand people that can't get it. Obviously many politicians can't read or able to obey it and seems many people don't understand it either.

check out Penn and Teller:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YY5Rj4cQ50

The problem here is not taking it as a whole.. as a whole they're saying that a well-regulated milita needs to be armed in order to protect the country that being the case the right to bear arms won't be taken away.. so again this comes back to those first 6 words which are key to the rest of the Amendment.. "A well regulated militia being necessary"..We have an standing army so the well-regulated militia is not actually necessary, that being the case.. the 2nd Amendment is out-dated, obsolete and unneeded. 

In respect to the video... a militia is a non-professional group of people getting together to fight at the command of a trained commander.. At the time of the Constitution the local militia comprised of white land-owners who were called upon to fight. 

The closest modern day comparison would be akin to an Army Sargent going into a neighborhood giving guns to all those who can shoot and telling them to be ready to grab those guns when the appropriate call is made And that he will lead them into battle when its time..That is what the militia was during the time of the Constitution. That is not what we have now.. 

What we have now is a formally trained paid military force, which is a far cry from a militia. 

The misunderstanding of the 2nd Amendment comes not from people's inability to read, but their inability to understand punctuation and basic sentence structure. Not to mention not fully understanding the difference between a militia and a standing army.. 

Here's a simple test. Does the phrase "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." stand on its own grammatically? Certainly. How about the phrase "A well-regulated militia being necessary for a free state?". No, definitely not. It is not a complete thought. In linguistics this is known as a "dependent clause". It takes its' meaning from the idependend clause. The 2nd could be rewritten as "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed (because they form the basis of) a well-regulated militia that is necessary for a free state." A militia is NOT made up of professional soldiers by definition. It is simply drawn from the population at large. If you want your potential militia members to be ready for combat it's a hell of a lot cheaper for them to provide their own equipment than the national government. If you check the history back then this is actually stated and attempted. :) It didn't quite work as planned (mostly only people on the frontiers worried about buying guns - go figure!) and so they had a smaller base of properly equipped and trained people than they had hoped for and this really hurt during the War of 1812!

Does the phrase "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." stand on its own grammatically?

It is an independent clause, so grammatically it is still correct on its own, but semantically it is not. Dependent clauses require a main clause to have meaning, but that doesn't necessarily mean they take their meaning from the main clause. Meaning is taken from the sentence as a whole, and indeed, many dependent clauses act as modifiers to the main clause.

In this case, the 'militia' clause modifies the entire sentence, so it cannot be removed. To do so would be to generate an entirely new sentence with different meaning.

As an analogue, The sentence 'I am fond of grapes' can be shortened to 'I am', and still be grammatically correct. Semantically, however, that would be a wrong thing to do. In essence, these are two different sentences.

I have to reply to  Kris Feenstra up here as there is no reply link to him after his last post.

Here is a common example often used to illustrate the 2nd. "A well-educated populace being necessary for a free state, the right of the people to own and read books shall not be infringed." Do you find yourself disagreeing with this statement? Do you interpret this to mean that you have to be a member of a well-educated populace in order to own and read books? Or do you read this as the right of the people to own and read books as being essential to there being a well-educated populace? The preamble does aid in the clarify of the intent of the main clause when there is conflict in its interpretation, but that conflict has to exist first before it is applied. Otherwise it's just rhetoric. Look up the term "preamble" in Black's Law Dictionary. :)

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