“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.”
For a discussion of the constitutionality of personal ownership of firearms, I have a couple thoughts. This is only about the constitutionality of the issue, not whether it is correct, right, wrong, or anything else.
1. We don’t have a “militia”. I believe I’ve heard that the National Guard is supposed to be our militia, but a definition of the word suggests that a militia would be composed of people who are not paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. While National Guard duty is part-time, it is a fixed term commitment and pays a salary. Our National Guard also supplies the weapons to it’s members. The lines that would divide the National Guard from the normal military are now so blurred as to make the distinction “militia” nearly meaningless. Our National Guard, as I see it, is part of our military (with differences), not a militia as implied in the Constitution.
2. We aren’t likely to need a militia (militia as understood in reference to #1). Now, anything is possible, but the likelihood of a civil war in the U.S. is highly unlikely as we have gotten fairly good at arguing our differences without shooting at each other. We also have a strong military defense of our borders, and so we are also unlikely to need a militia to rise up for our defense. Considering the strength of our military and law enforcement in this country, I believe that this statement, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State”, is no longer true.
Example: If Canada invaded the U.S., I am unlikely as a young male civilian to need to grab my gun and go join other normal civilians like me to fight, as our Army, Air Force, and Marines, and the National Guard units would rush to take care of the situation.
3. It seems that in the context of the 1700′s when the Constitution was written, a militia was the biggest point of why people would need firearms. The Revolutionary war was fought by many people who were using their personal guns to fight. Considering that context, is it reasonable to believe that it was intended for typical everyday people to possess guns without being a part of a well-regulated militia? I know there are many people who would say yes, but I have trouble getting there.
4. IF you, unlike myself, do make the distinction that the National Guard IS our nation’s militia, then that does change how I would talk about it. But I would make one point. If the National Guard is our militia, and they supply the firearms, then there is no need for those people to possess firearms for the purpose of the militia as implied in the 2nd Amendment.
This may be the first time that I’ve truly attempted to find my opinion on the constitutionality of personal firearms, and I have to admit that in my opinion I don’t think that our constitution allows for the idea of personal firearms, unless it is for a member of a regulated militia.
It is my opinion that our government needs to update our gun policies to reflect the realities of the 21st Century, rather than arguing about what was meant by our government 200+ years ago who had a much different societal and international context than we do now.