Well, I just learned something from Wikipedia I didn’t know before, but should have known — given all that time I spent studying that period in college.
I’ve always found the punctuation (and capitalization, but hey, it was the 18th century) of the Second Amendment problematic to the point that it was little better than gibberish. That’s because I was looking at the version that Congress passed:
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.
That comma after “Militia” just destroyed any clear meaning that may have been intended.
But now I’ve seen the version that was ratified by the states and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson in his capacity as secretary of state:
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.
Much better. It actually seems to have been composed by someone whose first language is English. And it certainly makes the role of the militia in the rationale of amendment much clearer.
Speaking of militias… I have another post I want to write on that subject. I’ll see if I can get to it before I need to leave this evening…