The Volokh Conspiracy

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Czech Constitution Soon to Include the Right to Bear Arms

The word "pistol," it turns out, is borrowed indirectly from Czech.

| reported Friday:

The Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms will now contain a provision stating that "the right to defend one's own life or the life of another person with a weapon is guaranteed under the conditions laid down by law."

According to the submitters, the constitutional change will prevent this right from being restricted by ordinary law. It will also strengthen the position of the Czech Republic in discussing other EU regulations.

Can't tell you what that will mean as a practical matter, but I thought it was worth reporting. Czech is the language from which we indirectly borrow the words "pistol"—according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "spec. use of píst'ala whistle, pipe, flute (apparently first applied during the Hussite wars to a weapon with a barrel and a clear-sounding shot)"—as well as "howitzer" and "semtex." Also "robot," but I hope they won't be the ones who are armed.