As D.C. Gun Case Looms, Watch 2nd Amendment’s Commas


Commas in the Constitution could play a part in the Supreme Court’s next ruling on gun control, says Legal Times. The Second Amendment 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.” The case of Washington, D.C.’s strict gun control ordinance is on the high court’s internal discussion list tomorrow. The justice are likely to announce soon whether they will hear the case.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said that because of the amendment’s second comma, the first half of the amendment — the militia half — is basically a throat-clearing preface that does not qualify the individual right to bear arms that the second half protects. Grammarians and gun control backers quickly pounced, saying the D.C. Circuit got it flat wrong. “I seriously doubt that the Supreme Court will base its decision on the rules of grammar in 1791,” says Dennis Henigan of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “But it has certainly become a relevant issue.”


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