Thursday, June 19, 2008
What did it mean to ‘bear arms’ in 1791?
The big Supreme Court case this term is D.C. v. Heller about Washington's ban on handguns. It's the first test of the 2nd amendment in a long time. One argument is that the leading phrase "a well regulated militia" means this is a public right but not an individual one. Another argument is that "bear arms" referred only to military use, not individual use. I didn't realize there was an amicus brief filed known as the Linguists' Brief defending this point. Language Log examines What did it mean to ‘bear arms’ in 1791?