Upon entering the conversation of guns, I know I do so at great peril as emotions run hot on both sides of the issue. I grew up with guns in my home, though I was never a hunter. I had extended family who did hunt and had guns in their homes to which I was exposed to throughout my childhood, and I have enjoyed occasional opportunities to shoot at targets. I suppose I have thought that persons had a right to own guns for protection and hunting, but it was never something I have sought to do. Like many, I must admit that the string of mass shootings have called me to question the legality of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition clips. The above said, I believe I look at the issue from a somewhat dispassionate point for view and offer the following thoughts, not on whether gun control legislation should be enacted, but whether the second amendment offers constitutional protection.
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.
While I am not a lawyer I am one that is used to using language, vocabulary and syntax, to exegete meaning from text, in my case scripture. With this training I am confused as to the claims of those who cite this amendment as the source of rights citizens have to unfettered ownership to firearms. My question is how can an amendment that recognizes and specifies the need for regulation and control of arms, “a well regulated militia” be the source of a right of that disallows any control of gun ownership?
I also am confused as to how the Supreme Court in the 2008 Heller Decision interpreted that the second amendment applies to individuals to have guns for personal safety and or hunting. As stated the amendment says the need for un-infringed bearing of arms is for the protection of the state by militias, and such right is given to “the people.” “The” as used in the amendment seems to be used as a determiner of the noun “people” generically, rather than specifically, meaning the amendment gives the collective citizenry the right to bear arms as part of a militia, with militia defined as a body of citizen, non-professional, soldiers called out in times of emergencies.
Had the amendment been intended to apply to individuals in any and all circumstances, it would have said the right of “persons,” or “individuals,” or just “people,” to bear arms shall not be infringed, with no other stipulations. The fact that the purpose of the entire amendment is to defend the state via a well regulated citizen militia also points away from the amendment’s intention to give constitutionally protected rights to individuals to own and bear arms.
As stated in the second amendment, the only people guaranteed the right to own and bear arms are people who are members of a well-organized, i.e. and structured, militia who use those arms in the protection of the state. Since the amendment does not prohibit others from owning and bearing arms, they are allowed to do so unless the State or United States prohibits or limits such ownership through laws or other regulation.
Again, these comments are not addressing whether federal, state, or local governments should control ownership and possession of guns or ammunition, but just whether the second amendment prohibits regulation of firearms or ammunition.
These are just my thoughts as I read the amendment. I would certainly be interested in hearing other ideas on how or why the second amendment can or should be interpreted in other ways.