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Second Amendment and Gun Ownership

March 15, 1986

By printing the letter of Michael Clark in your March 1 issue, you again spread the oft-repeated myth of the gun lovers that the Second Amendment to the Constitution allows individuals to keep all of the guns they want.

As a teacher for over 30 years, I urged my students to study the entire Constitution, not just a selected portion of a sentence.

The gun lovers regularly quote the second half of the Second Amendment, while ignoring the ruling first half, as well as ignoring the historical background and the court rulings on the amendment.

The 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 historical meaning of that was clear to those who wrote it: During the very recent revolution against England, British troops had marched against the armories kept by the Colonies to prevent the "well-regulated militia" of the Colonies from using the arms during the revolution.

Now that the former Colonies were states, they wished to retain their right to maintain state militias, both for protection against the Indians and against what they might perceive as undue influence by the new federal government.

Repeated court cases have pointed this out: that the Second Amendment in no way prohibits the states from regulating the private ownership of arms, nor does it prohibit the federal government from regulating the interstate commerce in arms; it merely does what it says: protects the right of the states to maintain "well-regulated" militias.

Unfortunately, the facts rarely reach the gun lovers, who continue to quote only the second half of the amendment like the Ayatollah quoting the Koran. And, equally unfortunately, newspapers continue to print their misleading partial quotes without an immediate correction.

GUY H. RANER

Chatsworth

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