In the ongoing effort to discredit the December PEW Research Poll that found 52 percent of Americans support the pursuit of gun rights, while only 46 support more gun control, the Chicago Tribune reported that gun rights may actually be nonexistent; they may actually be an “illusion.”
The Tribune‘s argument is that pro-Second Amendment attorneys have misconstrued the right to keep and bear arms, fashioning it after the whims and desires of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
In an attempt to prove their point, the Tribune says that if you ask “any high school English teacher to parse the Second Amendment,” they will tell you it is not talking about an individual right. To make it appear that this is really so, the Tribune quotes the text of the Second Amendment, but leaves out the punctuation.
Here’s what the Tribune printed:
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.
Here is the amendment as it appears in the Constitution:
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.
In the Constitution, the phrases are divided yet interdependent. They address a collective issue—the militia—but emphasize that the check on the militia is an individual right, the result of which is an armed populace. And it is the right of that populace to be armed that “shall not be infringed.”
But the Tribune’s article does violence to this by reducing the four phrases to two phrases, then pointing to a “textbook in use in hundreds of colleges and universities” to show us that “the wording and structure of the Second Amendment protects the people’s right to bear arms only if they belong to a state militia.”
Later in the column, the Tribune points to former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’s solution to this non-existent problem. His solution? Add words to the Second Amendment so that it says, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms when serving in the militia shall not be infringed.”
Strange that they have to add to words to make the meaning clearer, isn’t it? Perhaps that is because they are forcing a meaning not intended by the founding generation.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.