An argument that may be implicit in Volokh’s post, and is at least half-explicit in Instapundit’s post on the same article, is that the framers wanted to ensure that the People would be able to overthrow, or at least resist, the government if such should become necessary. That’s a standard argument among anti-gun-control partisans, and it’s one I’ve never really believed. (I’m pretty sure George Washington wouldn’t have believed it either.) What I DO believe is that the founders didn’t trust large standing armies, which could in their experience all too easily become instruments of tyranny. Hence the reliance on the militias, hence “a well-regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free state.”
We of course no longer feel that way about standing armies. The Recent Unpleasantness Between the Sections and subsequent unpleasantnesses have changed our minds pretty completely. The assumptions that went into the framing of the Second Amendment are no longer at all applicable. This creates a bit of a challenge for interpreting it, if I can understate the case a bit.
While I’m on the topic, I’ll also mention that I think the framing of the debate about the Second Amendment as one of “Individual” vs “Collective” rights has been a brilliant strategy by the anti-gun-control forces. I don’t buy that framework either, and I don’t think it has much to do with the way the framers thought about it, but once the argument is framed that way the Individual Rights case really does seem stronger.
Tags: second amendment