The Atlantic: "The Mysterious Meaning of the Second Amendment"

"... being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

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DispositionMatrix
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The Atlantic: "The Mysterious Meaning of the Second Amendment"

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The Mysterious Meaning of the Second Amendment
We could not find a dominant usage for what keep arms meant at the founding. Thus, even if Scalia was wrong about the most common meaning of bear arms, he may still have been right about keep arms. Based on our findings, an average citizen of the founding era would likely have understood the phrase keep arms to refer to possessing arms for both military and personal uses.

Finally, it is not enough to consider keep and bear arms in a vacuum. The Second Amendment’s operative clause refers to “the right of the people.” We conducted another search in COFEA for documents that referenced arms in the context of rights. About 40 percent of the results had a militia sense, about 25 percent used an individual sense, and about 30 percent referred to both militia and individual senses. The remainder were ambiguous. With respect to rights, there was not a dominant sense for keeping and bearing arms. Here, too, an “ordinary citizen” at the time of the founding likely would have understood that the phrase arms, in the context of rights, referred to both militia-based and individual rights.

Based on these findings, we are more convinced by Scalia’s majority opinion than Stevens’s dissent, even though they both made errors in their analysis. Furthermore, linguistic analysis formed only a small part of Scalia’s originalist opus. And the bulk of that historical analysis, based on the history of the common-law right to own a firearm, is undisturbed by our new findings. (We hope to publish this research, which also looked at other phrases in the Second Amendment, such as the right of the people, in an academic journal.)

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kronkmusic
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Re: The Atlantic: "The Mysterious Meaning of the Second Amendment"

Post by kronkmusic »

Interesting article, first time I've heard of legitimate scientific analysis on the subject as opposed to people's opinions or academic musings, not that those don't have their place.

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Re: The Atlantic: "The Mysterious Meaning of the Second Amendment"

Post by CDFingers »

Very enjoyable article. I hope this new tool becomes available to the casual researcher, as I think it would prove very useful.

Let us note that the "ordinary citizen" at the time of the writing of the 2A was a white male. Just sayin' that we can't always stay mired in the past, though the past informs today, and today decides tomorrow.

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Re: The Atlantic: "The Mysterious Meaning of the Second Amendment"

Post by highdesert »

IIRC an attorney representing a linguistic group asked to argue before SCOTUS on the NY State Rife & Pistol Assn vs City of New York case. His request was denied. Interesting article.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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