“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.” That is the exact text of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. I have never found any ambiguity in these words. Every law abiding American has the right to own a gun. In DC vs Heller in 2008, and McDonald vs Chicago in 2010, The Supreme Court of the United States found that the 2nd Amendment guarantees are individual and not collective. In other words, one does not have to be a member of the military, either state or federal, to exercise 2nd Amendment rights.
For a long time, those who would curtail or even eliminate the right to arms have argued that the 2nd Amendment was a collective right, not an individual one. The Heller and McDonald decisions finally clarified the situation concerning armed citizens. But the fight is not over. Numerous politicians, governments, and anti-gun rights organizations continually try to inhibit and deter lawful ownership and use of firearms.
Recently, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens had a book published. “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change The Constitution.” Stevens was a dissenter in the Heller case. Justice Stevens would reword the 2nd Amendment to state, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed” (emphasis added). Not only was Justice Stevens wrong in Heller, but his rewrite of the 2nd Amendment is simply ludicrous. If Justice Stevens really believes that the founders thought only the military should be armed, I wonder what he would say to those families that lost loved ones, or those wounded in both of the Fort Hood shootings. These people were and are members of the US Military and if Stevens is to be believed, were and are being denied their Constitutional Rights.
Here are a few quotes from James Madison who at times has been referred to as the “Father of the Constitution”.
“The Constitution preserves “the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation…(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. (Federalist 46)
“The right of the people to keep and bear…arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country….” (James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434 [June 8, 1789])
“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed ― unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” (The Federalist, No. 46 at 243- 244)
“Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation…. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” (The Federalist, No. 46)
There should really be no doubt that the “right to bear arms” belongs to the every individual law abiding American citizen.
Be safe and good shooting.