Among lots and lots and lots of amici briefs in DC v Heller are “pro-individual-rights” and “pro-militia-interpretation” briefs from opposing sets of historians. Haven’t read them yet, but they look interesting. From what little I’ve skimmed, my sympathies are with the militia one, not surprisingly. A couple of quotes:
As a problem for constitutional historians, the question can be elaborated and restated in this way: Did the framers and ratifiers of the Amendment believe they were constitutionally entrenching an individual right to keep arms for personal protection? Or did they conceive the Amendment to achieve a different end, by affirming that a “well-regulated militia” of citizen-soldiers would preserve “the security of a free state,” principally by lessening the need for a republican government to depend on a standing army?
What is at dispute is whether legal rights of private ownership were what the Second Amendment constitutionally entrenched. During this period, Americans were hardly shy about identifying and discussing such fundamental rights as representation, trial by jury, or freedom of conscience, or the natural rights to life, liberty, and property. The fact that references to the keeping of firearms are so few and terse, or that the modern academic controversy over the Second Amendment has been forced to squeeze so much modern interpretive blood from so few evidentiary turnips, is itself an indicator of how minor a question this was at the time. The same cannot be said about the role of the militia in the constitutional order. That was the subject that was patently in dispute in 1787-1789, and that is why the exceptional preamble to the Second Amendment is a true guide to its original meaning.