The 2nd Amendment is one sentence long. One measly sentence. Yet it causes so much conflict between people who want guns and people who don’t want people to have guns. Let’s review:
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.
Everyone seems to focus on the second part of the sentence while conveniently ignoring the first. These are not two distinct ideas, but one entwined within the other. Yes, the right to keep and bear arms should not be infringed. Yes, there is no limitation as to what defines an “arm”. But all this is only relevant in the context of a well regulated militia.
If you want to keep and bear arms, you must belong to a well regulated militia in your state. That militia can say who gets to keep and bear arms. That militia can say what kind of arms you are allowed to keep and bear. That militia is set up by the state. The state can decide who keeps and bears arms. The only limit that I can see is that the state must allow some class of citizen to keep and bear arms. We normally call that class of citizens police officers.
Disagree with me? Ok, do you think people who have already killed should be able to own a gun? By your interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, shouldn’t they be able to? What about that schizophrenic? Should he be able to own a gun? Given the 2nd Amendment, why not?
Now, I’m not saying that only police officers should be able to carry guns. Far from it. What I am saying, though, is that it is the state’s right to decide for themselves who gets to own a gun. If a state decides that only police should own a gun, fine. If a state decides that individuals should be able to own tanks, fine. If a state decides that individuals should be able to own tactical nuclear weapons, fine.
I believe that individuals should be able to own whatever the heck kind of arm they want. But they should be well regulated. Psychological tests should be mandatory. Regular, state approved, safety classes should be mandatory. Regular, state approved, proficiency exams should be mandatory. Permits should be issued for each arm only after a safety and proficiency exam is passed. Insurance to cover potential damages should be mandatory.
We’ve lost our way on the 2nd Amendment. Regulation of arms is necessary and proper for the functioning of a free state. That regulation should be decided by the state, though, and not the federal government.