"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."
Gun advocates hold this up as the high ground in the debate. The fight to interpret the amendment in its original intent has been highjacked by those who choose to ignore the first two clauses and focus entirely on the last two. The idea that liberal legal scholars strongly doubt that the Framers intended the right to bear arms and form a militia be transformed into the right to carry and use concealed weapons has become a lost argument.
To think that the right to bear arms is on par with the freedoms of religion and free speech is simply irrational. This re-interpretation of the Bill of Rights now protects gun owners from any kind of legislation or control and pretty much stifles all talk of Gun Control. Gun Control activists are resigned to working around the edges and congratulating themselves if small incremental changes are achieved.
No significant gun control legislation has been passed since the early 1990's. With gun control pretty thoroughly defeated, we are at the mercy of the gun lobby, the NRA, and the gun merchants who are dedicated to arming the citizens of the United States. If you want to see what arming the populace looks looks like, check Somalia, or the Sudan, and of course Iraq. America is the arms merchant for the world. We specialize in "self protection." Selling guns and munitions is one of the things we do best.
UPDATE: The following was submitted as a letter to the editor on 4/27/07.
The strongest most important solution to the problem of gun control can be summed up with these words:
"The second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed."
Gun owners do not need constitutional protections to own as many guns as they wish. Gun owners need not fear that their guns will be taken away. Sportsmen, hobbyists, and NRA members of all stripes needn't wrap themselves in the Bill of Rights to own and carry guns any more than if you needed a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to buy a car, a boat, or fly an airplane, all potentially dangerous but heavily regulated activities.
Guns do, however, need to be regulated by the federal government. Gun owners do need to be well trained and licensed to be able to properly and safely use their guns. Our food, our factories, our highways, and even our system of justice depend on federal and state regulation to insure the protection of all of us from potential danger. None of these regulations inhibit our life styles or demolish our freedoms. On the contrary, our lives are enhanced and much, much safer than if all these regulations were removed.
Gun Activists need to give a little, but so do the Gun Controllers. Gun Activists should be willing to give up the 2nd Amendment and submit to federal safety and licensing regulations. They need to stop complaining about "taking away our rights" and submit basic, pragmatic guarantees of safety to the non-gun owning populace. Gun Controllers should agree to allow guns to be kept, bought, and sold according to federal safety regulations.
We could of course go back to the original 18th century antiquated intent of the 2nd Amendment. Simply disband the Federal Armed Forces, let every community, every town and city form a militia for their own protection, and require every citizen buy a weapon of choice to join in the common defense.