What does America’s Second Amendment really say?


JUST weeks after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, in Las Vegas, America faced its fifth-worst attack, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5th. Both assailants were armed with military-style rifles. Why does American law let people buy such weapons?

The answer is the Second Amendment to the constitution, which reads: “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.” (Commas were used differently in the 18th century, but these do not affect meaning.) Gun-rights advocates insist the second half of that sentence is absolute.

Those in favour of tighter regulation insist that the framers used the first clause to tie gun-rights to the need for a militia. Since no American state has the sort of militia that existed in the 1780s (consisting of all able-bodied men, subject to call-up at any time and expected to bring their own weapons), this would make wider curbs…Continue reading

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