The question under consideration is what does it mean? Is the right under question an individual right that cannot be generally voided by the government or is it a corporate right only for members of a militia such as the National Guard?
“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. [link]
First we notice there are more commas than Strunk & White would recommend. Obviously, the commas were inserted by someone with a different set of rules for commas, perhaps the writer believed in inserting commas whenever the reader might take a breath. Given that the commas are in weird places, we will have to discount comma placement somewhat when we analyze the text. I make this argument up-front, even though it will not have anything to do with the way I parse the language, because there are those who make a big deal of the commas in the argument. Consider this a prophylactic measure against obsessive comma-parsing.
Then we notice from the other 9 amendments in the Bill of Rights that they are all amendments that apply to individual rights, not corporate rights.
Then we ask ourselves, why was the amendment written? Let us assume for a moment that the amendment was meant to apply to corporate rights. It only applies to militias: Armed militias. Given that armed militias are bands of armed men established by the government, would there be any doubt that a militia would be allowed by the government to bear arms? Why would the Constitution need to be amended in order to allow members of an armed militia established by the government to bear arms? The government under question would guarantee this right as a matter of course. Even the tyrannies in China and Myanmar allow their militias to be armed. Wouldn’t this be a nonsensical amendment, written by idiots, passed by fools, only challenged by the likes of Humpty Dumpty intent on redefining the meaning of an armed militia, or armed, or militia?
Or perhaps the amendment was written by a poor speller with a petty focus, and the amendment guarantees the right of people to bare their arms in short sleeves? I apologize for the joke, but it’s almost impossible to stay earnest when surrounded by so much silliness.
We could presume that the founders of the USA were not fools and idiots and petty-minded jokers, and that they wrote this Amendment because it protected a controversial right (to be armed) that was granted to all free men (and women) which future governments might wish to void through legal action? In fact, that is what the government of Washington DC has done with its gun ban. Mr. Heller, who filed the lawsuit challenging the ban, is allowed to carry his gun when he is at work to protect the local nobility in Congress. But he is not allowed to carry it when he is at home with his own non-privileged family. The Washington DC ban is a profoundly anti-democratic law that discriminates against people who don’t have all the juice of a standing Senator or Representative.
That’s why there can be no doubt whatsoever among the serious minded that the 2nd Amendment is an individual right.
The WSJ lists some things the Supreme Court said in DC v. Heller.
Chief Justice John Roberts asked why the Framers included the word “people” if the Amendment only applied to militias. Justice Antonin Scalia discussed the importance the Framers attached to providing citizens the means to protect against tyrannical government. Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the Court’s swing vote, informed all in attendance that “In my view, there’s a general right to bear arms quite without reference to the militia either way.”
Counterarguments are welcome. Please, give it your best shot!
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