The current sorry state of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments has brought the Second Amendment into a clearer light for me. I used to think the Second Amendment was ill-written to the point of obscurity:
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.
I couldn’t tell what the amendment meant, with those unusually-placed commas (don’t blame James Madison; the amendment gathered commas like lint as it passed through the Senate on its way to ratification). I suspected that the right of the people to keep and bear arms might be conditioned on the people belonging to a well-regulated militia (to protect the state), and that “well regulated” must refer to state regulation.
Now, though, I’m convinced that the right of the people to keep and bear arms was not meant to be conditioned on anything. The Bill of Rights was written to limit the government’s power and preserve the people’s freedom. The founders didn’t trust government. The idea of violently overthrowing a government was not far-fetched to them; they had just accomplished that very thing.
Looking at the Second Amendment in the light of utter distrust of government, I am driven to the conclusion that it means the government can’t limit the number or type of weapons possessed by the people.