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Firing off a few thoughts

March 27, 2007

Re "No gun, comma, control," Opinion, March 22

Dennis Baron correctly explains how punctuation during the writing of the Constitution, especially the 2nd Amendment, was different than it is now. If he also would have looked at the meaning of the word "militia" when the framers wrote those words, he would realize that his punctuation argument is moot. A militia then was every able-bodied male. The security of the state was dependent on armed individuals, not police or some state military entity, as "militia" is commonly defined today. In context then, wherever you put the commas simply serves to reinforce the right to own arms.

If Baron had carefully read the decision of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which pointed out the meaning of the word "militia" in the late 1700s, he might have a better understanding of the 2nd Amendment. I may have misplaced a comma, or two, like the framers of the Constitution, but I think my meaning is clear.

JIM MATTHEWS

San Bernardino

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Baron makes an excellent point about the commas in the 2nd Amendment. Just read any 18th century novel or other writing that has not been modernized in punctuation; you will see commas scattered helter-skelter. Sometimes a sentence must be read more than once to get what the author means. I have always taken the right to bear arms as directly connected to the well-regulated militia.

JULIE MAY

Los Angeles

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I submit Alexander Hamilton's views regarding the right to bear arms from Federalist Paper No. 28: "If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons entrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair."

I do not care about commas. Enough said?

SKIP ANDREWS

Canyon Country

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