I have read the Federalist Papers and have studied James Madison’s writings on the topic, in the proper historical context. In my mind there is zero doubt that the original intent of the Second Amendment was to ensure that the common citizenry be allowed to keep arms, to prevent potential tyranny at the hands of the “militia” (which “militia” would later become “the standing armed forces of the United States”). THAT’S the militia which civilian weaponry is intended to keep in line— the U.S. military.
No one back then wanted to trade King George’s redcoat occupation for occupation by a new army of freshly-minted bluecoats. Hence all the suspicion and caution that led to checks and balances, states rights, and the rest. Military coups— the historical means of illegally seizing government control— were NOT to be allowed.
I habitually poke fun at certain nutjobs who don’t understand that Constitutional passage (“We need to create OUR OWN militia and rise up to defend our guns!”) or who pull the “I’m a militia man for freedom” card, but then do something completely shitty with their guns (like accidentally shooting their kids or crazily taking potshots at other cars while driving). I also tend to call out those who would apply that Constitutional passage to themselves as members of a supposed citizen’s “militia.” I note that any such militia justified by the 2nd Amendment must accordingly agree to be “well regulated”— as in, subject to legal regulations. But I do understand the meaning behind passage. It’s kind of obvious, really.
I also believe the gun industry exploits the 2nd Amendment legal loophole to oversell weaponry to people who are absolutely unqualified to use it, and then actively encourages them to behave irresponsibly with it. The proliferation of “guns as toys” in our society is a national disgrace.
Anyone who is against rational gun licensing and mandatory training for gun owners in this country is, in my opinion, completely off his damned rocker. I find it infuriating when someone insists there’s something wrong with keeping guns out of the hands of irresponsible shitbags, lest we “infringe” their sacred 2nd Amendment rights. Except we already do that: we “infringe” the rights of convicted felons by denying them the “right” to legally purchase a firearm (and to vote, but that’s a whole other thing). And the only people really going to bat for gun ownership by convicted felons are either the hardcore anarchist ammosexuals or the legion of salesmen for the gun industry.
Now, me, personally? I’m all for testing and training. Maybe try that, because, uh, damn—there are some people too stupid to own a firearm. Obviously.
I don’t consider it an unreasonable infringement to require gun owners to take a class and pass a test. Nor do most rational Americans. The NRA used to provide those services and support registration, before Harlon Carter seized control of the NRA in 1975. Since then they have been, for all intents and purposes, little more than the political arm of the American firearm industry. By adopting the stance that “any law regulating any kind of gun is intolerable,” it became immediately obvious for whom they were now shilling. And all they do now, they do at the behest of the gun industry.
It is my opinion that despite their rhetoric, and based on their actual record of activity, the NRA and its gun lobby long ago became just another big business interest eager to protect the profits made by its largest contributors— those involved in gun and ammunition sales in the United States.
A close reading of the 2nd Amendment (in proper context, derived from study of the other writings of its author and the documents which inspired its theme and language) makes it clear that the whole Bill of Rights was intended to augment a series of checks and balances on potential Federal power. But no one foresaw the federalization that led to the Civil War, or envisioned a future wherein personal firearms would ever become largely unnecessary (extremely lethal) high-tech toys for the inhabitants of a paranoid and thrill-seeking industrialized society.
I’m quite cool with the 1968 Gun Control Act. I wish nobody had found it politically expedient to mess with it; even the NRA originally fully supported the 1968 GCA when it was passed, simply as a set of “common sense” regulations— just as most Americans still support those basic controls as self-evident and obviously beneficial to all citizens, both gun-owning and otherwise, and aiding in law enforcement and general public safety.
“Citizens with guns” isn’t really the problem. Guns as toys and the irresponsibility of the firearms industry, causing a massive glut of unregistered guns everywhere… THAT’S where the problem lies.