The conclusion of the Peircean linguist Michael Shapiro's blog post of 2014
on the Second Amendment. First, the Amendment.

 "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

"The word militia of the first clause governs—is hierarchically
superordinate to—the phrase the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
The framers of the Constitution had the grammatical option to invert the
two clauses but did not. The element order speaks for itself, rendering
militia the pragmatistic scope (i. e., in the Peircean sense of the
philosophical doctrine of pragmatism) under which right to keep and bear
arms is restricted. " Michael Shapiro

His complete argumentation is, of course, longer; for which see his blog. Included in Shapiro's post was this:

>From Dennis Baron, “Guns and Grammar: the Linguistics of the Second
Amendment” (

“In our amicus brief in the Heller case we attempted to demonstrate,
• that the Second Amendment must be read in its entirety, and that its
initial absolute functions as a subordinate adverbial that establishes a
cause-and-effect connection with the amendment’s main clause; connection
with the amendment’s main clause;
• that the vast preponderance of examples show that the phrase bear arms
refers specifically to carrying weapons in the context of a well-regulated
• that the word militia itself refers to a federally-authorized, collective
fighting force, drawn only from the subgroup of citizens eligible for
service in such a body;
• and that as the linguistic evidence makes clear, the militia clause is
inextricably bound to the right to bear arms clause. 18th-century readers,
grammarians, and lexicographers understood the Second Amendment in this
way, and it is how linguists have understood it as well.”

Professor Joseph Dauben of the CUNY Graduate Center commented on Shapiro's
blog post in an email today: "It's clear from what you say that the
amendment means "the people" collectively, in their joint defense, not
every NRA member out there who may on his own want to keep a weapon handy,
whether there is a militia anywhere in sight or not."

I should note that this post is meant only to demonstrate one way in which
Peircean thought is being effectively employed in consideration of
contemporary issues.


Gary R

*Gary Richmond*
*Philosophy and Critical Thinking*
*Communication Studies*
*LaGuardia College of the City University of New York*
*718 482-5690 <(718)%20482-5690>*
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