A Monologue with the Æther

Dear 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution Absolutist

Or Gun Control is Not Forbidden

The text of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States 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.

Constitution of the United States

In classical logic terminology, the amendment text is an argument by disjunctive syllogism, or for those more familiar with modern symbolic logic, it is an implication. There are those who make much ado about the grammatic structure of the text. They like to point out the strange comma placements, but let us remember that in the late 18th century when this was written and printed English grammar and punctuation were still undergoing change, so they shouldn’t be considered anything more than a literal pause. I have also seen bizarre arguments about how the first clause is a dependent clause and that means that the main clause depends on it. Wrong, just wrong. The “well regulated militia” clause is most definitely a dependent clause which means that it depends upon the truth of the main clause, not the other way round.

The text is a truth by implication. What does that mean? Lets look at it from a non-controversial example: if it rains, it is wet. Is rain the only reason for it to be wet? No, there could be many explanations for wetness one of which is rain. Rain, however, depends upon wetness which is to say: it cannot rain and not be wet.

At the time of the writing of the US Constitution and its “Bill of Rights” (the first 10 amendments), many states enshrined the right of their citizens to form militias to defend the their respective states. When James Madison endeavored to fulfill the promise of adding a bill of rights, which he believed unnecessary, in exchange for constitutional ratification, he solicited ideas for the bill. He collated and compiled the 12 most common requests into the amendments to be submitted for ratification and inclusion in the US Constitution. The people wanted a guarantee that their right to form militias would be protected from Federal interference. Madison in his wisdom went one step further realizing that a right to form militias is meaningless without a means to give the militia teeth i.e., weaponry.

The 2nd Amendment is a guarantee of the right of the people to form associations for the security of the free state known as militias. This right of association depends upon the truth of the right to keep and bear arms, not the other way around. Or to put it another way like the rain: you can’t have a militia without guns.

That being said, the 2nd is no more or less an absolute or individual right than any other of the amendments that form the “Bill of Rights”. It is as much a collective as individual right as you can’t have a militia of one. Furthermore, it does not like any of the other amendments in the first 10 preclude the government from imposing regulation. There are and always have been exceptions for example the state can strip you of your right to keep and bear arms if you commit a felony, not to mention that bit about a “well regulated militia”.

Lastly, consider the meaning of the Militia Act of 1792, if the government cannot regulate arms, how then does it enforce such a law?