The most confusing dependent clause in the history of the nation, at least as far as personal liberty goes, is the one that begins the 2nd Amendment to the Bill of Rights. The full text of 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.
To understand what the Founders meant it helps to understand how much the former colonists disliked a standing army. As far as the Continental Congress was concerned the Revolution could be fought and won using an army composed entirely of citizen volunteers organized into local militia companies.
George Washington, the man actually in charge of the fighting, thought this was madness. He and the Congress had a running battle throughout the war over recruiting, equipping and paying a regular army. Washington believed only…