How do the rules of English inform understanding of one of our language's most disputed sentences?
Yes, historical context is important, but forget it for a moment. Taken at face value, what does the text mean? > 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. Is the leading clause an essential modifier or an absolute phrase? **This is not a political question!** Justify your answer with appeals to rules of English usage. What say you, grammarians?