Amendment II: 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.
Here we go, the U.S. Supreme Court is going to try to reinterpret the Second Amendment. The collective right of the People to keep and bear arms stems from English tradition of distrust for large standing armies, and the desire to force the federal government to rely instead on citizen-soldiers for national defense. There is no individual right to keep arms in English law.
Some have argued that the Fourteenth Amendment altered the meaning of the Bill of Rights, making the Second Amendment guarantee morph into an individual right to bear arms. The Supreme Court has not yet agreed with that interpretation.
In United States v. Miller (1939) the Court sustained a statute requiring registration under the National Firearms Act of sawed-off shotguns. Citing the original provisions of the Constitution dealing with the militia, the Court observed that “[w]ith obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted with that end in view.”
The case now before the Court, Parker v. District of Columbia, involves the first federal appellate opinion to overturn a gun control law – Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban – on the ground that the Second Amendment protects the rights of individuals. The Second Amendment applies only to the federal government and does not normally prevent state and local governments from regulating the possession of firearms, however the District of Columbia is a special case. The U.S. Congress has the ultimate plenary power over the district. It has the right to review and overrule laws created locally and has often done so.
Stay tuned. This is going to be interesting.