"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."
That, as you may recognize, is the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, popularly believed to grant everyone an individual right to guns.
Now, I don't have a particular agenda as regards guns, at least not on the traditional perception of one being either entirely against them or entirely for them. I'm not a gun nut, but I have friends who are quite in to their gun collections, and am aware that many other people are as well and would be very upset, indeed live in relative terror at the prospect, of their guns being taken away. And on the other hand, gun violence obviously causes a lot of unfortunate events, to put it mildly. And then there's the whole issue of what is or is not a constitutional right. And it is this latter point I'd like to address. What DOES the Constitution actually say?
Most people on both sides of the debate have seemed to completely lose sight of one minor detail about their "right to bear arms" -- the Constitution does NOT guarantee individuals the right to bear arms.
The 2nd Amendment's express purpose is to guarantee a "well regulated militia." So now let's step back from everything else and ask this: does the current firearm policy in any stretch of the imagination resemble a "well regulated militia?"
I will go so far to propose that it does not.
Some have put forward that the state national guards fit the requirement of a "well regulated militia." And that may be possible, but it's also true that the founding father's were intensely suspicious of government and clearly intended the amendment to allow citizens to fight the government, their OWN government, if they so desired.
Which brings up an interesting nuance. Far from banning military grade "assault weapons," such an interpretation would expressly allow them.
Anyway, clearly there are a lot of fans of guns who adamentally desire to keep personal weapons that are not under the control of the state, and would be, so to speak, up in arms, if they didn't have an option.
So what if people COULD form "militias" in the form of gun clubs. But the members of any such militia are collectively responsible for the gun related behavior of any individual member. It's then in all member's of the club's interest to make sure no wingnuts are allowed to join their club. And if you're a wingnut you probably won't be allowed to join any gun club. And of course as is currently the case, no felons, mentally unstable, or otherwise dangerous individuals could have firearms even if they could join a club.
I know, I know, the idea of "armed militias" sounds scary but consider that presently they already exist with no motivation to self regulate.
And the "right" to bear arms doesn't necessarily need to apply only to militias, remember that which is not forbidden is allowed, so I'd propose there'd of course be allowances for persons of known levels of civic responsibility, honorably discharged veterans, police officers and the like, to own personal firearms -- and this category would happily include all my friends who are gun nuts.
So that's my compromise interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. Either way, to return to my initial point, the current situation in no way resembles a "well regulated militia," and clearly needs to be drastically reformed.