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.
Wikipedia has an article about the 2nd Amendment, containing some interesting information. Apparently there’s more then one version. I wondered if the one they said was distributed to the States was rearranged a bit to make the "keep and bear arms" and the "shall not be infringed" go together.
The version copied above is the one passed by Congress.
One of our commenters told me to read it literally, to diagram the sentence like we did in high school. I thought I detected a bit of condescension in his tone, as if I were an idiot for not having already done this. But when I tried, the first thing I noticed is it's not so easy. In fact, I don't think it's very good English.
There are four phrases, but they don't really work together unless something's missing, unless something's understood. How about this?
1. A well regulated Militia,
2. being necessary to the security of a free State,
3. (and depending upon) the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,
4. shall not be infringed.
Could that be the way to read it? Without those three words I added, I really can't understand it. And with those three words, it seems clear that it all refers to the militia and not the "right of the people to keep and bear Arms." In other words, it's the "well regulated militia" that "shall not be infringed," not the right of the people.
Does that make sense? What do you think?