The pro-gun crowd often crows about the second amendment to the Constitution as though it gives all Americans the rights to all guns, all the time. However, a brief walk through the Constitution and laws enacted later seem to tell a different tale. Maybe it's just me, but when people talk of the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms a part of me wants to paraphrase the great Inigo Montoya... I do not think it means what they think it means.
Please allow me a brief trip through history:
As we all know, the Constitution was ratified in 1787. Lets skip down to Section 8 and we'll see these interesting tidbits:
(Congress shall have the power:)Ah, the militia. At the time, the lifeblood of the defense of this fledgling country. Vitally important to our survival, the writers recognized the importance of having defensive forces across the states and training them to fight when called upon. But this wasn't enough. What if a government at the state or local level decided to take the arms of the populace? Now the nation as a whole is weakened. So, in 1789, 12 Amendments were brought up for possible inclusion into the U.S. Constitution. 10 of those passed, among them our legendary second:
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
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.No one can keep the militias from being armed and ready! In context, this is clear. But... let's add more context, shall we? In November of 1791 the U.S. lost a major battle to Native Americans knows as St. Clair's defeat. You can look that up. As a result, it was determined that the militia simply wasn't up to snuff, thus the Militia Acts of 1792 were passed. The First Militia Act gave the President the authority to call up the Militia for a two year period. (It was later made permanent in 1794.) The Second Militia Act went on to set standards for the militia itself, including the conscription of all able bodied white males between 18 and 45 and the minimum required arms and supplies they were required to have on hand, such as a musket, bayonet and belt, two spare flints, a cartridge box with 24 bullets, and a knapsack. Men owning rifles were required to provide a powder horn, 1/4 pound of gunpowder, 20 rifle balls, a shooting pouch, and a knapsack.
So, let's look at this. We have the Constitution setting the rights of Congress to call up the Militia. We have the Second Amendment requiring that, due to the importance of the Militia, Americans will not have the rights to keep and bear arms infringed. Then we have Militia Acts going into further refinement and details of that militia.
Fast forward to 1903. The Militia Acts are replaced with the Militia Act of 1903, which established the National Guard. By doing so, it transferred the militia from the populace to the armed forces, establishing further funding, training, and for the first time pay while training. It basically rendered the archaic militia concept obsolete.
In a nutshell, the intent of the Second Amendment that the right to keep and bear arms was necessary to maintain a well organized militia became obsolete with the formation of the National Guard. The Second Amendment is obsolete and never was intended to give people the right to keep arms simply for the sake of doing so. It was for national defense, which was transferred to the military.