"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" .....
Let's start with some basic history of the 2nd Amendment.
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights and was adopted on December 15, 1791. Its intent was not debated to any significant degree until Robertson v. Baldwin, (1897). After that the issue was almost unheard of until United States v. Miller, (1939), then came to a head with District of Columbia v. Heller, (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago, (2010).
The most relevant of these cases is most certainly District of Columbia v. Heller (June 26, 2008) where a divided Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. The core holding being that the Second Amendment is an individual right intimately tied to the natural right of self-defense. In this case the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Parker v. District of Columbia. The Court of Appeals had struck down provisions of the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 as unconstitutional, determining that handguns are "arms" for the purposes of the Second Amendment, that the District of Columbia's regulations act was an unconstitutional banning, and struck down the portion of the regulations act that requires all firearms including rifles and shotguns be kept "unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock...."
It is relevant to point out that the opinion of the court in DC v Heller was an ideologically divided 5 to 4 decision. The opinion was delivered by Justice Antonin Scalia who was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.. Justice John Paul Stevens dissented and was joined by Justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer. This division illustrates the legitimate intellectual differences of opinion that exist within this issue.
The reason for this constant, never-ending disagreement within the courts, the Justices and the people is simple; the amendment itself is poorly worded, therefore its intent is ambiguous. It mentions both a "militia" and an "individual" in the same sentence. What were the Founders referring to when they wrote the amendment? Did they mean that only a member of an organized militia (like the National Guard of today), could possess an "arm", presumably a firearm? Or did they mean that any private individual could own a firearm, with no restrictions on type and number of same? Unless we can revive either James Madison or George Mason, primary authors of The Bill of Rights, we will never know for sure their intent when drafting the amendment. Further, any person who claims to be sure of the intent of the second amendment is being disingenuous. All opinions on its meaning are purely assumptive in nature.
With that said, I personally believe we have a logical, natural right to own a firearm to protect ourselves, home and family. This is based in English natural law (Cruikshank 1876). However, I also believe we should have common sense restrictions (favored by liberals and rejected by most conservatives, esp the NRA) on gun ownership. For example, do you need an automatic weapon to protect your home, shoot at the range or hunt? No, of course not. Do you need an AR-15 or AK with a 100 round magazine for these purposes? Again, no, of course not. But the NRA and other conservative organizations think you should have the right to own these weapons and they push very hard to attain this end. Let's face reality folks; the only reason you need these types of weapons is to kill as many people as quickly as possible. That is why these guns were invented. For war. And do you need to be able to buy a large number of weapons all at one time to protect your family? Again no, of course not. The only person who needs this right is a licensed gun dealer. The only private individual who would need to do this is a "straw buyer" who wants to sell the guns across state lines. This happens all the time between Tennessee and the City of Chicago. It is a very pervasive problem the police in Chicago deal with every day. Fortunately, many states have "one gun a month" buy laws to protect against this problem. Not surprisingly, the NRA and conservative states are usually against such safety related legislation.
Now before all my right wing friends start screaming "I have the right to own any firearm I want and if I want to buy 10 sawed off shotguns and AK47's today and carry them down Main St that is my 2nd amendment right!"... I have to ask you this; do you realize how selfish and narrow-minded this position is? Please try to see the bigger picture outside the conservative "its all about me" bubble. You don't need an automatic weapon. You don't need to buy more than one gun a month. The government is not coming to get you and your guns. If you truly feel you must have unlimited access to high caliber weapons, grenades or whatever else, I suggest you either 1) join the Marines or 2) get over the baseless fear and paranoia that permeate your life and see a psychologist. Common sense gun laws protect both people and society. Get over it.
In summary, I feel we do have a natural right to own firearms specifically to protect our homes, target shoot and hunt. And we have this right regardless of what the second amendment may or may not say or imply. But we have this right with logical and reasonable restrictions attached.
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