Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Mel Grant: Take a second look at the Second Amendment

To the editor:

Most of us do not know how to read the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

First and foremost, it begins with a restrictive clause, which is mentioned in the first paragraph of the Preamble to the Bill of Rights, and which is paramount to our understanding the entire 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.” In 1791, when this was written, a citizen force (militia) was needed to protect against Indian attacks.

But today our citizen-soldiers are National Guardsmen who are called into active duty by the state or federal government. When they are activated, they have the right to “keep and bear arms.” For example, when I was in the service during World War II, I was sent to the Philippines to join an artillery battalion that was a National Guard unit from Tennessee. They had just lost a few of their men in a night attack by the Japan­ese. But they were “well regulated,” not only as expert artillerymen, but they managed to brew in the middle of the jungle a most excellent and potent tin cup of Tennessee whiskey.

When I was mustered out at the end of that war, the first thing the Army asked me to give them back was the gun I had been issued. I have not owned one since.

Mel Grant

Northampton

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