Original text of the 2nd Amendment.


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Harve Curry
June 23, 2004, 11:58 AM
It has been brought to my attention that I was incorrectly writing the 2nd Amendment from how it was originally written. The grammar being wrong with commas and some capital letters. I checked four books I had and only one wrote it out as a photograph of the original text proved. So I have put it in my signature line as per the original text.
Refer to this link:
http://my.net-link.net/~napfn/ffv4n5.htm
It is interesting.

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GigaBuist
June 23, 2004, 12:04 PM
Uhh... you sure about that?

The picture that the guy's referencing is from a printing press.

Me thinks the original was hand written, like here:

http://www.archives.gov/national_archives_experience/slurp_file.php?fileref=1

There's 3 commas IIRC.

Rebeldon
June 23, 2004, 12:07 PM
I read it. Very good!

Rebeldon
June 23, 2004, 12:38 PM
"Uhh... you sure about that?

The picture that the guy's referencing is from a printing press.

Me thinks the original was hand written, like here:

http://www.archives.gov/national_ar...e.php?fileref=1

There's 3 commas IIRC."

They had printing presses. I downloaded your link, and it looked to me to be the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution of the United State of America, or Bill of Rights.

Keep in mind, the constitution took years to ratify, unlike the Declaration of Independence. They didn't have copy machines. If they wanted to send copies to people in different states in order for the states to debate the issue, they would have printed it on a printing press and couried them out. Surely, the final draft was also printed. The Declaration of Independence was a hand written LETTER to King George. It was not a law document.

Where did you see three commas?

And just in case you saw a hand written version of the Bill of Rights, that certainly would not have been the version that was debated and ratified. They would have used printed text. Afterall, the printing press was invented in 1436 by Johannes Gutenberg.

ProGlock
June 23, 2004, 01:22 PM
I believe the National Archives keeps VERY high resolution photos of the Constitution/Bill of Rights on their website. Why not just go to the source?

BigG
June 23, 2004, 01:36 PM
Amendment II

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.

From Natl Archives & Records Administration

NARA - Bill of Rights (http://www.archives.gov/national_archives_experience/bill_of_rights_transcript.html)

Harve Curry
June 23, 2004, 02:48 PM
Howdy Big G,
I followed the link you posted. That is a typed in transcript, not a photograph of an original text. I have several books all with slightly different capital or no capital letters, commas or no commas.
So which is version is true to the original document?

grimlock
June 23, 2004, 03:08 PM
I followed one of the NARA links and found the hi-res image of the Bill of Rights.

Bill of Rights Image (15MB jpg) (http://www.archives.gov/national_archives_experience/slurp_file.php?fileref=7)

Unfortunately, it has the screwy commas. Also, there are twelve articles listed, and the first two seem not to have hung around. I'm not a Constitutional scholar.

Harry Tuttle
June 23, 2004, 03:23 PM
http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=26266&highlight=comma

http://www.constitution.org/cons/bill.jpg

Dear SAS,

I have a question, and perhaps someone at your organization can answer it. You quote the Second Amendment on your web site 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." Often, even at other places on your site, I see a comma placed after "arms". I have a photo of the original Bill of Rights, and it has no comma. Where did the comma come from and why is it used so often? The answer may be of interest and importance to your members.

Thanks,
Alec


S.A.S. responds...*

The various versions with one, two, or three commas have been created as a result of several unrelated problems. There is nothing wrong with the SAS site showing the Second Amendment written in several ways, because the contemporary representations of the Bill of Rights also appeared in several different versions. The really important question is whether those slightly different versions have different meanings. The answer is that all versions, whether they have one, two, or three commas, support our position. Anyone who seriously studies the vocabulary, syntax, grammar, political philosophy, legislative debates and the subsequent legal decisions can only conclude that the Second Amendment is an individual right.

The anti-self-defense people often bring up the issue of the commas during debates. They don't like the proper meaning of the Second Amendment which recognizes and protects the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so they often try to confuse the audience (see the 2nd Amendment Law Library for law reviews on the 2nd Amendment). They will typically claim that our individual rights spokesperson is misinterpreting the Second Amendment because we are using the inaccurate "single comma" version instead of the "real" version with three commas--or, if our spokesperson is using the three comma version, then the gun ban fanatics will claim that the single comma version is more accurate! The other side doesn't really care which one is right, so long as they can confuse the voters by claiming we are wrong.

The best way to handle these "real meaning" opponents is to propose the following questions, "You claim that you know the "real" number of commas and therefore, the "real" meaning. Why don't you explain the difference between the two interpretations, and how the different commas make that difference? Please show us exactly how the difference in commas changes the meaning. What, you don't know what mechanism changes the meaning? Then how do you know that you are right?" Then follow up with Point 3, below, and ask them for a rearranged version of the Second Amendment that makes more sense, without throwing out anything.

1. First, we should ask why there are different versions of the original documents and their contemporary copies and prints. The most fundamental problem is the fact that the spelling and grammar of that era was idiosyncratic due to lack of dictionaries and standardized grammar rules. Anyone who has read many documents of that era will find several very different ways to spell common words and personal interpretations regarding the placement of commas ("pauses") and other punctuation. Many writers also used the Germanic "f" representation of the English letter "s", as you can easily see in the first line of the Bill of Rights. If you would like to see a recent expert analysis of the grammar and syntax of the 2nd Amendments, read an interview with Roy Copperud.

2. Does any of this change the meaning of the 2nd Amendment so that it only applies to the National Guard? No, unless you delete several words. However, established rules of Constitutional interpretation require that every word in the Constitution has meaning, and that no words are superfluous. Therefore, you cannot just ignore or throw away the words that get in the way of your "preferred" interpretation. The 2nd Amendment with only one comma after "state" is the most commonly seen version. It is obviously divided into an initial present participial phrase (which explains, but does not limit) and a core sentence, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed", which can stand by itself. In such a case, it is obvious that the "right" is possessed by "the people", not by any "militia" analogs such as the National Guard. Furthermore, the 3 comma version does not change any of the meaning; it is simply overpunctuated. The reasons for this are described in Point. 3, below.

3. What happens to the meaning if we accept the versions with the extra commas (one or two extra)? Actually, nothing! Using the most heavily punctuated version (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.) you can perform a simple test. Separate each of the four segments and then rearrange them in every possible sequence, and you will find only one arrangement that uses all the words (see Rules of Interpretation, in #2 above) AND seems even remotely coherent. (For comparison, try some combination such as, "Shall not be infringed, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, a well-regulated militia."--total gibberish!) Naturally, the only combination that makes any sense is the arrangement that already exists. Conclusion: our Founders were not as stupid as the anti-self-defense zealots would like the public to believe. Or perhaps the anti-self-defense fanatics already know this but just want to use this claim in order to confuse and deceive the voters.

4. Finally, remember that many documents of that era were hand-written and hand-copied or typeset using the primitive printing technology of the day, so it is not unusual to see several slightly different versions that were sent out to various places from the point of origin. You can see a photo of one of the versions of the Bill of Rights (the one adopted by Congress in 1789, containing 12 rather than the 10 amendments as eventually ratified by the states in 1791) at the National Archives Bill of Rights.

Randall N. Herrst, J.D.
National Research Coordinator
The Center For The Study Of Crime
Study Crime (should be running by May 20)
rherrst@2asisters.org

__________________

GigaBuist
June 23, 2004, 04:23 PM
D'oh! I'm a moron and linked to the DOI instead of BOR.

NARA's photograph of the original manuscript should show 3 though... somebody else linked to it.

Wiley
June 23, 2004, 04:47 PM
Just to throw a little extra into the mix: The printers of the time were 'in charge' of punctuation and capitalization as there were few standards.

A document sent to two printers could be set diferently.

carpettbaggerr
June 23, 2004, 04:53 PM
I'm just guessing, but I'd say they only had one c in "necessary"


:neener:

Standing Wolf
June 23, 2004, 05:14 PM
Just to throw a little extra into the mix: The printers of the time were 'in charge' of punctuation and capitalization as there were few standards.
A document sent to two printers could be set diferently.

The so-called "standards" differ from one to another to this very day. A document sent to two editors will show differences.

American English is a very democratic language.

gunsmith
June 23, 2004, 09:43 PM
We are at war,are we not?
It seems to me that the U.S gov't is resricting our RKBA - couldn't we bring a lawsuit to restore the 2nd for reasons of National Security?

Inoxmark
June 23, 2004, 09:59 PM
I forget where I saw this, but it goes something like:

A well educated society, being necessary to the prosperity of a free state, the right of the people to keep and read books, shall not be infringed.

Here, nobody in their right mind would insist that the right to have books is limited only to "well educated", no matter how many commas in this sentence, or which words are capitalized.

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