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Interpretation of amendment

To the Valley News:

“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.” - Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution

In his letter to the editor on April 6 Don Mauer maintains that “the overarching purpose” of the Second Amendment was to guarantee that “the people would have the right to secure their freedom from a tyrannical government.” He goes on to argue that because weapons technology was the same on both sides of the revolutionary war--the colonists who formed militias and the British soldiers both had single shot, muzzle loading weapons--that today there must be parity between what weapons citizens can physically “keep and bear” and what the armed forces of a tyrannical government can physically “keep and bear.” This parity argument implies that citizens have the right to bear shoulder-launched cruise missiles capable of downing airplanes, hand-held grenade launchers, the xm25, machine guns, mines, flamethrowers, etc. Using words close to, but significantly different from those in the Second Amendment, Mr. Mauer does imbed citizens’ gun rights within a “well trained” militia. (The 2nd Amendment, however, refers to a “well regulated militia,” which, to the courts, means government regulated) Mr. Mauer does not, however, refer to state militias (today known as the National Guard) because they would presumably be the armed forces of a allegedly tyrannical government. Rather, his letter suggests he has in mind well-trained private militias which would fight the National Guard. If my interpretation of Mr. Mauer’s letter is correct, I respectfully disagree.

Of course individuals and organizations certainly have a First Amendment right to express their opinions about the meaning of the Constitution. But it is the judiciary, and above all, the U.S. Supreme Court that has the legal authority to interpret the meaning of the “maddeningly ambiguous” Second Amendment.

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