As I said at the beginning, my argument does not deny any private right to own and use firearms. Perhaps that can be defended on other grounds—natural law, common law, tradition, statute. It is certainly true that most people assumed such a right in the 1780s—so naturally, in fact, that the question was not “up” and calling for specific guarantees. All I maintain is that Madison did not address that question when drafting his amendment. When he excepted those with religious scruple, he made clear that “bear arms” meant wage war—no Quaker was to be deprived of his hunting gun.
The recent effort to find a new meaning for the Second Amendment comes from the failure of appeals to other sources as a warrant for the omnipresence of guns of all types in private hands. Easy access to all these guns is hard to justify in pragmatic terms, as a matter of social policy. Mere common law or statute may yield to common sense and specific cultural needs. That is why the gun advocates appeal, above pragmatism and common sense, to a supposed sacred right enshrined in a document Americans revere. Those advocates love to quote Sanford Levinson, who compares the admitted “social costs” of adhering to gun rights with the social costs of observing the First Amendment.60 We have to put up with all kinds of bad talk in the name of free talk. So we must put up with our world-record rates of homicide, suicide, and accidental shootings because, whether we like it or not, the Constitution tells us to. Well, it doesn’t."
A long article about the 2nd Amendment that no one will read.