There has been much debate about the ” Real Meaning” of the 2nd Amendment with passion intense on both sides.
The “left” want to outlaw most firearms and leave them in the hands of Police and Military with few exceptions to private ownership, and even then, heavily regulated by the government.
The “right” says that the 2nd Amendment is an individual right and no government entity can deny them that right.
Who is correct? Well…..neither.
The Second Amendment, like all of the first Ten Amendments known as the Bill of Rights were intended as a check on the Federal Government, not the Individual and sovereign States. The Preamble to the Bill of Rights makes it very clear:
THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers (the Federal Governments powers) that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution.
The Anti-Federalists were fearful of a powerful centralized government and wanted protections against its potential abuses. They understood that their liberty was protected by their State Constitutions which were written for the people of those States. Remember, the State Constitutions preceded the U.S. Constitution which in turn borrowed many ideas from the different State Constitutions, most notably Virginia.
The Police power of the individual States was left intact and protected by the Tenth Amendment.
Therefore, the Bill of Rights was a protection against the Federal Government and did nothing to hinder the States from making their own laws that suited their people. The right to keep and bear arms was already protected in most of the individual States and the 2nd Amendment was a protection against regulations by the Federal Government.
John Marshall – no defender of State sovereignty – made it very clear in his decision for Barron V. Baltimore just what the Bill of Rights intended:
But it is universally understood, it is a part of the history of the day, that the great revolution which established the Constitution of the United States was not effected without immense opposition. Serious fears were extensively entertained that those powers which the patriot statesmen who then watched over the interests of our country deemed essential to union, and to the attainment of those invaluable objects for which union was sought, might be exercised in a manner dangerous to liberty. In almost every convention by which the Constitution was adopted, amendments to guard against the abuse of power were recommended. These amendments demanded security against the apprehended encroachments of the General Government — not against those of the local governments. In compliance with a sentiment thus generally expressed, to quiet fears thus extensively entertained, amendments were proposed by the required majority in Congress and adopted by the States. These amendments contain no expression indicating an intention to apply them to the State governments. This court cannot so apply them.”
It is only the fallacious belief in the “Incorporation Doctrine,” which interprets the Fourteenth Amendment as giving the Federal Government supreme power over all the States, that many believe the 2nd Amendment trumps a States right to regulate firearms.
It is the responsibility of the people of the States to create rules, regulations and laws that suit their needs. If a State wants to ban all handguns and its people agree, so be it. If a State wants its citizens armed with automatic weapons and its people concur, so be it. However, if the Federal Government attempts to regulate who can own firearms and what types, then the 2nd Amendment comes into play. The Federal Government has no authority under the Constitution to regulate a States Police Powers.
When you think about it…how great would it be if there were no more Federal regulations on Firearm ownership? If you have the misfortune of being a gun owner and live in a State that does not trust its citizens (like I do in the People’s Republic of New York) then you have a choice to move or live under the laws your fellow citizens approve. If you live in a free State which protects your rights then the Federal Government has no jurisdiction to interfere.
It’s very important to understand what the Constitution says and means. We have to stop allowing supposed Constitutional Scholars like our current President to interpret the Constitution for us.