I’ve changed my mind about how I view the right to keep and bear arms. That phrase – right to keep and bear arms – has been floated so much that it has lost its real meaning. So I avoid using it.
I DO use the correct, constitutional language: The right of the people to keep and bear arms. Yeah, I know what gun owners mean when we say “right to keep and bear arms” in our circles but maybe we need to emphasize the rest of the language, “of the people.”
Speaking of which, I’m not a constitutional lawyer but I have read all the pertinent stuff about how the Second Amendment has been interpreted. I’ve often wondered about that comma (between State and the people). Perhaps the first part of the sentence was meant to imply that because a well-regulated militia is necessary to secure our free State, the people have a right to be armed in the event the well-regulated powers that be decide to rule oppressively and without restraint. That way, we the people would not find ourselves under-gunned in doing something about runaway government.
And yes, I’ve heard the argument: “When the Second Amendment was written, there weren’t AKs and high capacity magazines.” To that, I reply: When the First Amendment was written, there were no such things as the internet, the Cross of Christ submerged in a jar of cow urine, or Muslim mosques dotting the landscape, but there’s nearly unlimited freedom with these things now. Who gets to pick and choose the levels at which either right is enjoyed?” (Personally, I believe that the Ninth Amendment addresses that question.)
In this case (with which I agree, mostly because I’m authoring it), the Second Amendment has nothing whatsoever to do with anything except the obvious: That the people should, without infringement or constraint, be armed in order to restrain or resist, by fear and intimidation if necessary, those who wish to rule outside the margins of the Constitution. Do not those who wish to rub out the Second Amendment fear and tremble because of a polite, armed society? Just think what things would be like if there was no such thing as the Second Amendment. As an American, I can’t even go there, nor do I want to (thank you Founding Fathers).
So I personally hold to the premise that the Second Amendment empowers the people to be able to themselves suppress wayward militaries (i.e., coups) and thwart run-amuck government (i.e., those who want to selfishly rule rather than selflessly lead). Sports, home defense, hunting, arms collecting, etc. are just the beneficiaries of this inalienable RIGHT. And gun crimes and shooting victims are the unfortunate results and recipients of fallible people trying to secure freedom for all.
“We should have the right to keep and bear arms, to protect ourselves and our family. The Second Amendment was put in there not just so we can go shoot skeet or go shoot trap. It was put in so we could defend our First Amendment, the freedom of speech, and also to defend ourselves against our own government.”
Kim Rhode, skeet shooter and the first American to medal in five straight Olympic Games* (and as of this writing, SIX games in which she has medaled).