Susan Paslov: Read the whole Second Amendment
In a well-reasoned guest column of March 4, Pat Griffith states: “when we read the Second Amendment, we need to read the whole sentence, not just the part we like.” The parts of the sentence are dependent on each other: “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.”
Author James Madison’s intent, and popular thought in the 18th century, were to guarantee the right to be armed only in connection with service in a “well regulated militia.” (This Amendment was drafted to prevent the federal government from passing laws that would disarm the state militias).
Shamefully, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its allies have distorted the text and history of the Second Amendment. In fact, when the NRA emblazoned the words of this Amendment near the entrance to its national headquarters, it purposely omitted nearly half of the sentence ( 13 of the 27 words!) And this distortion is repeated endlessly as: “ … the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” As former Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Warren Burger states: “Special interest groups have perpetrated a fraud on the American public.”
One must ask why our precious Constitution and Bill of Rights (the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution) are so freely trifled with. Who’s profiting from this distortion? The gun industry? Some outmoded cowboy fantasy?
No one wants to eliminate the Second Amendment and confiscate guns (as some repeatedly claim). We only ask for rational discussion in these precarious times; and we request an honest reading of the Second Amendment.