There has been a lot of talk about what the second amendment really means. “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 many the second amendment means a guarantee that they have the right to arms. For others it does not.
The controversy surrounding the second amendment revolves around the two clauses of the sentence. Many argue that the second amendment only guarantees the right to bear arms to the militia. This is what has come to be known as the collective rights theory. It argues that citizens have no individual right to bear arms and since there is no individual right, government has the authority to regulate. Unites States v. Miller set this precedent after declaring that the National Firearms Act of 1934 was legal and did not infringe on individual rights.
The collective rights theory is completely contradictory to the intent of the framers. That is why District of Columbia v. Heller overturned the precedent set before. To understand why we should first look at what the definition of militia is. Militia is defined as “all able-bodied civilians eligible by law for military service” by the Merriam Webster dictionary. That would mean that every man and now woman who is of military age has the right to bear arms. Some people may point out that the second amendment mentions a “well-regulated” militia and not every able bodied man. The best response I can offer to this comes from the co-author of the second amendment George Mason. He states the following “I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them”. So it is quite clear that the framers did intend for the second amendment to be an individual right. Besides, is there a single amendment in the bill of rights that does not guarantee an individual right? Why would the second amendment be the exception? As for the original ruling in United States v. Miller it must be noted that this occurred under the Presidency of FDR. FDR had already threatened to pack the court if they continued to shoot down his programs. So there was no way the court would go against the president on one of his largest reforms. There was also a serious issue with organized crime that made the law understandable. However, it is important to note that the National Firearms Act did not ban any firearms. It only required the firearm to be registered and a tax to be paid. The court ruled that this fell under interstate commerce and was within the right of the Federal Government.
There is a lot of bad information about the second amendment. No matter what your political ideology is, or what you personally believe, it is hard to argue with historical fact. It is irrelevant whether you think people need firearms or not. Until it is changed, the second amendment guarantees the right of a United States Citizen to purchase a firearm in defense of home and liberty.