In his Aug. 8 letter, “Accept amendment’s original intent,” Howard Leighty’s strained analysis of the Second Amendment is mistaken. The authors of the amendment clearly intended to guarantee citizens the right to the kinds of weapons issued to ordinary infantry, not only to the specific type of firearm available when the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791.
Consider what the amendment says: “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.” Given that all able free men between 18 and 45 had to be enrolled in the militia (see Statutes at Large, 2nd Congress, 1st Session, 271), the militia clause amounts to a promise that citizens can have the weapons needed to defend the security of the state. Nowadays that means, at the least, an ordinary infantry weapon such as an M-16 or an AK-47.
One might argue that such a promise is anachronistic in this age of sophisticated warfare. Even in the 18th century most understood that militia men could not stand up to well-drilled professionals. But the Second Amendment still says what it says. Don’t like it? Repeal it, if you can.