The ONE COMMA 2nd Amendment

An excellent analysis of the 2nd Amendment from TangoFox over at Free Republic.

Down to the Last Second (Amendment)

Participants in the various debates on firearms, crime, and constitutional law may have noticed that the Second Amendment is often quoted differently by those involved. The two main variations differ in punctuation- specifically, in the number of commas used to separate those twenty-seven words.

But which is the correct one? The answer to this question must be found in official records from the early days of the republic. Therefore, a look into the progression of this declaratory and restrictive clause from its inception to its final form is in order.

Before beginning, one must note that common nouns, like “state” and “people,” were often capitalized in official and unofficial documents of the era. Also, the letter “f” was at times used in place of the letter “s” in both print and manuscript. For example, “Congress” is sometimes spelled as “Congrefs,” as is the case in the parchment copy of the Bill of Rights displayed by the National Archives. The quotations listed here are accurate. With the exception of the omission of quotations marks, versions of what is now known as the Second Amendment in boldface appear with the exact spelling, capitalization, and punctuation as the cited originals.

A Chronological History

During ratification debates on the Constitution in the state conventions, several states proposed amendments to that charter. Anti-Federalist opposition to ratification was particularly strong in the key states of New York and Virginia, and one of their main grievances was that the Constitution lacked a declaration of rights. During the ratification process, Federalist James Madison became a champion of such a declaration, and so it fell to him, as a member of the 1st Congress, to write one. On June 8, 1789, Madison introduced his declaration of rights on the floor of the House. One of its articles read:

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.1

On July 21, John Vining of Delaware was appointed to chair a select committee of eleven to review, and make a report on, the subject of amendments to the Constitution. Each committeeman represented one of the eleven states (Rhode Island and North Carolina had not ratified the Constitution at that time), with James Madison representing Virginia.

Unfortunately, no record of the committee’s proceedings is known to exist. Seven days later, Vining duly issued the report, one of the amendments reading:

A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms. 2

In debates on the House floor, some congressmen, notably Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts and Thomas Scott of Pennsylvania, objected to the conscientious objector clause in the fifth article. They expressed concerns that a future Congress might declare the people religiously scrupulous in a bid to disarm them, and that such persons could not be called up for military duty. However, motions to strike the clause were not carried. On August 21, the House enumerated the Amendments as modified, with the fifth article listed as follows:

5. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the People, being the best security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person. 3

Finally, on August 24, the House of Representatives passed its proposals for amendments to the Constitution and sent them to the Senate for their consideration. The next day, the Senate entered the document into their official journal. The Senate Journal shows Article the Fifth as:

Art. V. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed, but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person. 4

On September 4, the Senate debated the amendments proposed by the House, and the conscientious objector clause was quickly stricken. Sadly, these debates were held in secret, so records of them do not exist. The Senators agreed to accept Article the Fifth in this form:

…a well regulated militia, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall net be infringed. 5

In further debates on September 9, the Senate agreed to strike the words, “the best,” and replace them with, “necessary to the.” Since the third and fourth articles had been combined, the Senators also agreed to rename the amendment as Article the Fourth. The Senate Journal that day carried the article without the word, “best,” but also without the replacements, “necessary to.” Note that the extraneous commas have been omitted:

A well regulated militia being the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. 6

With two-thirds of the Senate concurring on the proposed amendments, they were sent back to the House for the Representatives’ perusal. On September 21, the House notified the Senate that it agreed to some of their amendments, but not all of them. However, they agreed to Article the Fourth in its entirety:

Resolved, That this House doth agree to the second, fourth, eighth, twelfth, thirteenth, sixteenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, twenty-fifth, and twenty-sixth amendments… 7

By September 25, the Congress had resolved all differences pertaining to the proposed amendments to the Constitution. On that day, a Clerk of the House, William Lambert, put what is now known as the Bill of Rights to parchment. Three days later, it was signed by the Speaker of the House, Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, and the President of the Senate, Vice President John Adams. This parchment copy is held by the National Archives and Records Administration, and shows the following version of the fourth article:

Article the Fourth. 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. 8

The above version is used almost exclusively today, but aside from the parchment copy, the author was unable to find any other official documents from that era which carry the amendment with the extra commas. In fact, in the appendix of the Senate Journal, Article the Fourth is entered as reading:

Art. IV. 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.9

Also, the Annals of Congress, formally called The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, show the proposed amendment as follows:

Article the Fourth. 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.10

Further, once two-thirds of both chambers of the Congress agreed to the proposed amendments, the House passed a resolve to request that the President send copies of them to the governors of the eleven states in the Union, and to those of Rhode Island and North Carolina. The Senate concurred on September 26, as recorded in their journal:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States be requested to transmit to the executives of the United States, which have ratified the constitution copies of the amendments proposed by Congress, to be added thereto; and like copies to the executives of the states of Rhode Island and North Carolina.11

Fortunately, an original copy of the amendments proposed by the Congress, and sent to the State of Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations, does survive. Certified as a true copy by Assembly Secretary Henry Ward, it reads in part:

Article the Fourth, –A well regulated Militia being neceffary to the Security of a free State, the Right of the People to keep and bear Arms fhall not be infringed. 12

And so, the proposed amendments to the Constitution were sent to the states for ratification. When notifying the President that their legislatures or conventions had ratified some or all of the proposed amendments, some states attached certified copies of them. New York, Maryland, South Carolina, and Rhode Island notified the general government that they had ratified the fourth amendment in this form:

Article the Fourth. 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. 13

Articles the First and Second were not ratified by the required three-fourths of the states, but by December 15, 1791, the last ten articles were. These, of course, are now known as the Bill of Rights. Renumbering the amendments was required since the first two had not been ratified. The 1796 revision of The Federalist on the New Constitution reflects the change as such:


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.14

This version is carried throughout the 19th Century, in such legal treatises as Joseph Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833) and Thomas Cooley’s Principles of Constitutional Law (1898). It is also transcribed in this manner in the 1845 Statutes at Large, although the term “state” is capitalized in that text. The latter are the official source for acts of Congress.15,16, 17

This version still appears today, as is the case with the annotated version of the Constitution they sponsored on the Government Printing Office web site (1992, supplemented in 1996 and 1998). The Second Amendment is shown as reading:

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. 18

(The Senate-sponsored GPO site does carry a “literal print” of the amendments to the Constitution showing the Second Amendment with the additional commas. The punctuation and capitalization of the amendments transcribed there are the same as those found on the parchment copy displayed in the Rotunda of the National Archives.)19

Thus, the correct rendition of the Second Amendment carries but a single comma, after the word “state.” It was in this form that those twenty-seven words were written, agreed upon, passed, and ratified.

Why the Commas are Important

It is important to use the proper Second Amendment because it is clearly and flawlessly written in its original form. Also, the function of the words, “a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state,” are readily discerned when the proper punctuation is used. On the other hand, the gratuitous addition of commas serve only to render the sentence grammatically incorrect and unnecessarily ambiguous. These points will be demonstrated later in the Second Amendment Series.


1. Amendments Offered in Congress by James Madison, June 8, 1789. The Constitution Society., 16 January 2000.

2. Amendments Reported by the Select Committee. July 28, 1789. The Constitution Society., 16 January 2000.

3. U.S. House Journal. 1st Cong., 1st sess., 21 August 1789.

4. U.S. Senate Journal. 1st Cong., 1st sess., 25 August 1789.

5. U.S. Senate Journal, 1st Cong., 1st sess., 4 September 1789.

6. U.S. Senate Journal, 1st Cong., 1st sess., 9 September 1789.

7. U.S. House Journal. 1st Cong., 1st sess., 21 September 1789.

8. Bill of Rights. National Archives and Records Administration., 22 January 2000.

9. U.S. Senate Journal. 1st Cong., 1st sess., Appendix.

10. Annals of Congress, 1st Cong., 1st sess., Appendix

11. U.S. Senate Journal. 1st Cong. 1st sess., 26 September 1789.

12. A True Bill. The Constitution for the United States, Its Sources and Its Applications., 27 January 2000.

13. U.S. House Journal, 1st Cong., 3rd sess., Appendix Note: Maryland and South Carolina capitalized the “m” in “Militia.”

14. The Federalist on the New Constitution, 1796. The Constitution for the United States, Its Sources and Its Applications., 17

February 2000.

15. Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution Society., 18 February 2000.

16. Quotes from Constitutional Commentators. Gun Cite., 2 February 2000.

17. Statutes at Large 1845, 21.

18. Second Amendment–Bearing Arms. The Constitution of the United States of America., 18 February 2000.

19. Text of the Amendments (Literal Print). The Constitution of the United States of America., 18 February 2000.


Ask Martha Stewart what happens when you co-operate with investigators. If this does not make the hair on the back of your head stand up nothing will!!!

Complete Link:

It is crucial to note that affirmatively declining to discuss the investigation in the absence of counsel is not the same thing as remaining completely silent. If you are not in custody, your total silence, especially in the face of an accusation, can very possibly be used against you as an adoptive admission under the Federal Rules of Evidence.

Your invocation of counsel, however, cannot be used against you at trial. United States v. McDonald, 620 F.2d 559, 561-64 (5th Cir. 1980). Your refusal to talk substance in the absence of counsel will force the prosecutor to decide whether your information is important enough to justify a grand jury subpoena for your testimony.

Do NOT Talk to Police! Part II

Do not talk to Investigators! Especially if you are innocent!

Link to complete article:


Just Say Nothing
[Originally published in The Blue Press, from Dillon Precision]

Just Say Nothing by Dave Kopel

What if you’ve just been arrested for something which shouldn’t be a crime? For instance, if a burglar breaks into your home, attacks your children and you shoot him. Should you talk to the police in detail about what happened? In a word, “No.” Shut up, call the best lawyer you can find, and then continue to shut up. If you talk to the police, you will only make things worse for yourself.

Sociologist Richard Leo has written several articles which detail the deliberately deceptive techniques which police use to extract a confession.

First of all, since 1986 the Unites States Supreme Court has required that all persons under arrest be given the Miranda warnings, so that they will know that they have a right to remain silent, and the right to a lawyer. So how do police convince a suspect to talk, even after the Miranda warning?

Professor Leo explains that “police routinely deliver Miranda warnings in a perfunctory tone of voice and ritualistic behavioral manner, effectively conveying that these warnings are little more than a bureaucratic triviality.” Of course, the Miranda warnings are not trivial; your liberty may hinge on heeding those warnings.

No matter how strong the other evidence against you, a confession will make things much worse. A confession often makes the major difference in the district attorney’s willingness to prosecute the case, and his willingness to accept a plea bargain. If your confession gets before a jury, your prospects of acquittal are virtually nil.

If you are foolish enough to reject the Miranda warnings, simply put, the police interrogators will attempt to deceive you into confessing. As a result of increased judicial supervision of the police, deception, rather than coercion (“the third degree”) has become the norm for interrogation.

First of all, you will be kept in a physical environment designed to make you want to waive your rights and talk. You will most likely be kept in isolation, in a small, soundproof area. By isolating you, the interrogator attempts to instill feelings of anxiety, restlessness and self-doubt on your part. Left alone for long periods, you may think you are being ignored, and will therefore be happy to see the interrogator return.

The Journalist’s Stylebook To Gun Control Articles

An oldie from the archives. If it is not true, it should be true!!

The Journalist’s Guide To Gun Violence Coverage

Dr. Michael S. Brown

2001 Edition

Guns are a sad fact of life in American culture and are a major topic in modern journalism. A good Journalist has a duty to get involved and make a difference in this important societal debate. By following certain guidelines, the concerned Journalist can be assured of having the maximum impact on this shameful problem.

The first principle to remember is that subtle use of terminology can covertly influence the reader or viewer. Adjectives should be chosen for maximum anti-gun effect. When describing a gun, attach terms like automatic, semi-automatic, large caliber, deadly, high-powered, or powerful. One or more of these terms can describe almost any gun. More than two guns should be called an arsenal.

Try to include the term assault weapon if at all possible. This can be combined with any of the terms above for best results. Nobody knows exactly what an assault weapon is, so you cannot be criticized for this usage.

Don’t worry about getting technical details right. Many a reporter has accidentally written about semi-automatic revolvers or committed other minor errors. Since most people know little about guns, this is not a problem. Only the gun nuts will complain and they don’t count. The emotional content of your story is much more important than the factual details, since people are more easily influenced through their emotions than through logic. Ironically, this provides cover in case you are accused of bias. You can always say that you were just trying to make the story more dramatic to increase reader or viewer interest.

Broadcast Journalists should have a file tape showing a machine gun firing on full automatic. Run this video while describing semi-automatic weapons used in a crime or confiscated by police. At the least, a large graphic of a handgun should be displayed behind the on-air personality when reading any crime story.

Do not waste words describing criminals who use guns to commit crimes. Instead of calling them burglar, rapist, murderer, or repeat offender, simply use the term gunman. This helps the public associate all forms of crime and violence with the possession of guns. The term shooter was once a positive term associated with shooting sports. This is changing.

We now use it to describe a gunman who has actually fired one or more shots.

Whenever drug dealers are arrested, guns are usually confiscated by the police. Mention the type and number of guns more prominently than the type and quantity of drugs.

Obviously, the drug dealers who had the guns should now be called gunmen.

Include the number of rounds of ammunition seized, since the number will seem large to those who know little about guns. Readers will subconsciously think that each confiscated bullet represents one life saved. It is not necessary to say this explicitly.

Political discussions on gun control legislation usually involve pro-gun organizations. Always refer to these organizations as the gun lobby. If space permits, mention how much money the gun lobby has spent to influence political campaigns and describe their legislative lobbying efforts as arm-twisting or threats.

Gun owners must never be seen in a positive light. Do not mention that these misguided individuals may actually be well educated, or have respectable jobs and healthy families.

They should be called gun nuts if possible or simply gun owners at best.

Mention details about their clothing, especially if they are wearing hunting clothes or hats. Mention the simplistic slogans on their bumper stickers to show that their intelligence level is low. Many gun owners drive pickup trucks, hunt and live in rural areas. Use these details to help portray them as ignorant rednecks. Don’t use the word ‘hunt’. Always say that they ‘kill’ animals.

Don’t be afraid to interview these people, they are harmless even though we must cast them as sociopaths. If using video, interview the most unattractive and least articulate individual. Do not select a woman or ethnic minority. It is important that people see gun ownership as a white male affliction. Try to solicit comments that can be taken out of context to show the gun nuts in the worst possible light.

Never question the effectiveness of gun control laws or proposals. Guns are evil and kill people. Removing guns from society can only be good. Nobody really uses guns for legitimate self-defense, especially women or children.

You may occasionally run across stories about successful armed self-defense that are emotionally appealing, even heart-wrenching. These must be minimized or suppressed.

Stories like this occasionally appear in local media, but are always spiked by the networks and wire services before they spread. You can assist this effort by notifying the appropriate editor if you discover one of these stories in your local market.

If you feel that you must cover a successful armed self-defense incident, you must completely avoid any hint that citizens can rely on guns for protection. Your local appointed police chief can usually be relied on to provide a quote to that effect. Elected sheriffs are less reliable, but worth a try.

Be careful about criticizing the police for responding slowly to 911 calls for help. It is best if the public feels like the police can be relied upon to protect them at all times. If people are buying guns to protect their families, you are not doing your job.

Emphasize stories where people kill family members and/or themselves with guns. It is important to make the public feel like they could lose control and start killing at any moment if they have a gun in the house. Any story where a child misuses a gun belongs on the front page.

Schools have proven to be a wonderful source of emotional anti-gun material. Be prepared to swing into action at the slightest hint of a gun in or near a school. Your coverage must include the fear-producing word Columbine as many times as possible.

School situations can be described with many excellent terms as in this example: “The terrified children were held in lockdown for hours as SWAT teams armed with powerful assault weapons searched the campus for the mystery gunman”.

Don’t forget to cover the frantic parents as they arrive at the school to pick up their children. This is every parent’s worst nightmare and we must use the opportunity to press his or her emotional hot buttons.

View every shooting as an event to be exploited. Always include emotional quotes from the victim’s family if possible. If they are not available, the perpetrator’s family will do nicely.

The quote must blame the tragedy on the availability of guns. Photos or video of grieving family members are worth a thousand facts. Most people will accept the assertion that guns cause crime. It is much easier than believing that some people deliberately choose to harm others.

Your story should include terms like tragic or preventable and mention the current toll of gun violence in your city or state. Good reporters always know exactly how many gun deaths have occurred in their area since the first of the year. List two or three previous incidents of gun violence to give the impression of a continuing crime wave.

Little space should be devoted to shootings where criminals kill each other. Although these deaths greatly inflate the annual gun violence numbers, they distract from the basic mission of urging law-abiding citizens to give up their guns.

Do not dig too deeply into the reasons behind shootings. The fact that a gun was involved is the major point, unless someone under 21 is killed, in which case the child angle is now of equal importance. Even if the deceased youth is a vicious gang member, he must be portrayed as a good child who fell under the influence of the gun culture.

Any article about gun violence should include several quotes from anti-gun organizations. One quote should say that we must do something for the children. Anti-gun spokespersons should be called activists or advocates. If your editor wishes to appear unbiased, you can include one token quote from a gun lobby group to show that you are being fair. The anti-gun statements should be accepted as fact. The gun lobby statement can be denigrated by including text like, ‘according to gun lobbyist Jones.’

Fortunately, statements from anti-gun organizations come in extremely short sound bites that are perfect for generating an emotional response in the reader or viewer. If you are not familiar with the terms in current use, anti-gun organizations like the Violence Policy Center can provide you with a list of the latest terms including: junk guns, Saturday Night Special, sniper rifle, and Tupperware parties for criminals.

Never question an anti-gun sound bite or label, even if you think it is misleading. That is the point. They have been carefully crafted by marketing experts who know what is best for the movement. Your job is to repeat them as often as possible.

The term gun show loophole is a perfect example of a powerful and successful label. Even though sales at gun shows must follow the same laws as sales elsewhere, loophole strongly implies a special exemption. By working together we have convinced voters that gun shows are free trade zones where sinister arms dealers sell machine guns to children and criminals. As long as we can maintain the public’s misperception of this issue, we can use this powerful tool indefinitely.

You must never attend any workshops or seminars where Journalists learn about guns at a real shooting range and interact with well-informed gun owners. Reports indicate an extremely high rate of defections among journalists who attend such events. This confirms the evil influence that guns have on even the finest individuals.

If you must participate in a gun-training event, try to choose one conducted by a big city police department controlled by a liberal mayor. That way you are less likely to be exposed to improper thoughts.

Feel secure in your advocacy journalism. Surveys prove the vast majority of your fellow Journalists support your activism. Your goal should be to emulate or surpass the broadcast television networks, which in some cases have achieved a ratio of ten anti-gun stories to each pro-gun story.

The nation will be a better place when only the police and military have guns. Always remember that you are doing it for the children so the end justifies the means. Eventually, the government will have a monopoly on power. Don’t worry about the right to freedom of the press, just contact me then for more helpful hints.

Professor Michael Brown
School of Journalism
Vancouver College of Liberal Arts

The author wishes to thank the Violence Policy Center for their brilliant and invaluable contributions to our Journalist’s Crusade to End Gun Violence.

Political Satire, copyright 1999-2001, Dr. Michael S. Brown.
May be reproduced freely in its full and complete form.
The author may be contacted at

Rufus Hussey… The Beanshooter Man (Slingshot Guru)


Beanshooters (slingshots)….how to make them, how to use them, why they are still important.

I have my authentic Rufus Hussey Beanshooter Serial Number 9xxx. For the full story go to link here:


Excerpt here:

Rufus Hussey was raised south of Seagrove, NC on a two-horse farm with ten brothers and sisters. Having lost his father at an early age, and with the only gun being carried by the oldest brother, Rufus and the other boys grew-up shooting beanshooters. He was making his own by the age of ten and soon developed a keen-eye for hitting his target.

In his later years Rufus became quite famous shooting his beanshooter to the amazement of country and city-folk alike. He appeared on many TV shows where he demonstrated his skill. One TV host asked… “Rufus, I understand you can knock a quarter out of the air with that thing! Is that right?” Rufus responded… “I can hit a penny…. but when it gets that cheap, it’s time to quit!”

Rufus hit the big-time when he was invited to appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. After a bit of small-talk, Johnny asked, ” I understand you’re going to demonstrate your skill… is that right?” Rufus replied, “Sure! I’d rather shoot the beanshooter than shoot the bull.” Soon Rufus was shooting a corncob from Johnny’s hand.

A few months later brought a call from Charles Kuralt. He wanted to come down to the farm and interview Rufus for one of his On The Road segments. Rufus put on a real show shooting targets of all types. The segment ended with him breaking a corncob from Charle’s hand.

Garden & Gun-A Coffee Table Magazine For the Rest Of Us

Spruce up the parlor or den with a copy of Garden & Gun. Impress your friends and amaze your enemies.

Link here:

Are you a 21st Century Southern American?
Garden & Gun attracts men and women who embody the active, outdoor lifestyle, and have an eye for beauty, an ear for fine prose, a passion for the Southern landscape and waters.

One reader wrote recently, “I am a 44-year-old avid hunter and saltwater fly fisherman. I also like a great bottle of wine and 700 thread-count cotton sheets on my hunt camp bed.”

The beauty, mystery and captivations of the South are ever-present. How we live here today, what we treasure enough to record in art, images and words… how we tell our stories, that’s the question.

Wherever we are, we feel the South.