A recent letter by a member of the National Rifle Association reminded us that Harriet Tubman exercised her rights under the Second Amendment to carry a rifle in her pursuit of justice [“Harriet Tubman carried firearms,” May 9].

However, the writer neglected to mention that the same Constitution, while never mentioning slavery directly, made Tubman’s bondage as a slave perfectly legal. As an escaped slave, Tubman needed a gun to prevent her legal return to slavery. She helped free other slaves and carried a rifle as a scout for the Union Army.

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A moral of the Tubman story is that the Constitution is not a perfect document. Amendments give the Constitution flexibility to change with the times, to address and correct obvious wrongs.

The Second Amendment is an example of the need for clarification. U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has suggested reflecting the intent of the Founding Fathers by revising the amendment to read, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.”

Michael Cacace, Smithtown