Now returning back to the subject of whether individuals should have the right to bear arms at all, I'm going to rely on the excellent analysis of Jeffrey Toobin to make my case:
For more than a hundred years, the answer was clear, even if the words of the amendment itself were not. The text of the amendment is divided into two clauses and is, as a whole, ungrammatical: “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.” The courts had found that the first part, the “militia clause,” trumped the second part, the “bear arms” clause. In other words, according to the Supreme Court, and the lower courts as well, the amendment conferred on state militias a right to bear arms—but did not give individuals a right to own or carry a weapon.
Enter the modern National Rifle Association. Before the nineteen-seventies, the N.R.A. had been devoted mostly to non-political issues, like gun safety. But a coup d’état at the group’s annual convention in 1977 brought a group of committed political conservatives to power—as part of the leading edge of the new, more rightward-leaning Republican Party. (Jill Lepore*recounted this history in a recent piece for*The New Yorker.) The new group pushed for a novel interpretation of the Second Amendment, one that gave individuals, not just militias, the right to bear arms. It was an uphill struggle. At first, their views were widely scorned. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, who was no liberal, mocked the individual-rights theory of the amendment as “a fraud.”
I encourage everyone to read that entire article as it may come as a surprise to know that the relatively recent understanding that the constitution guarantees the right to bear arms for everyone was not aways the prevalent narrative.
Of course I'm not naive enough to think that the courts will revert back to their earlier understanding of the Amendment or, failing that, the Amendment will be repealed. The NRA has simply transformed the culture of this country enough that neither of those things will happen in my lifetime. I do hope for stricter gun control and a ban on automatic or semi-automatic weapons. Baby steps toward the ultimate goal, even if it comes after my death.