The Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment gives individuals–not militias–the personal right to keep and bear arms, a right that state and local governments may not abridge:
The Second Amendment provides Americans a fundamental right to bear arms that cannot be violated by state and local governments, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in a long-sought victory for gun rights advocates.
The 5 to 4 decision does not strike down any gun-control laws, nor does it elaborate on what kind of laws would offend the Constitution. One justice predicted that an “avalanche” of lawsuits would be filed across the country asking federal judges to define the boundaries of gun ownership and government regulation.
But Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who wrote the opinion for the court’s dominant conservatives, said: “It is clear that the Framers . . . counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty.”
The decision extended the court’s 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller that “the Second Amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home.” That decision applied only to federal laws and federal enclaves such as Washington; it was the first time the court had said there was an individual right to gun ownership rather than one related to military service.
I don’t see how the Second Amendment could be read in any other way. For those who only think that it refers to militias, I would think they would have to support militias as constitutionally-mandated. At the time of the founding and extending through the Civil War, America had no large standing army. Just local and state militias consisting of ordinary citizens. Who kept their weapons at home.
The National Guard is not equivalent to those militias (note the “national” in the name and its connection to the standing military forces). Nor are the radical groups that call themselves militias but operate under no governmental chain-of-command. But since the Constitution calls for them, shouldn’t we have them? Could they, properly trained and equipped, offer an alternative military system to what we have today?
ANOTHER THOUGHT: Those who think the Second Amendment applies primarily to militias should, therefore, support the possession of military weapons, such as assault rifles. Clearly, the amendment is not talking about the right to hunt but the right to “security.” That certainly has to include the keeping of weapons for self defense.