In 1791, when the fledgling U.S. Congress was debating elements of what turned out to be the Bill of Rights, a lot of things were different from how they are now.
Here’s one: “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.”
That was the precise wording of the Second Amendment to the Constitution as passed by the Congress and sent to states to ratify. Then, of course, a well-regulated militia was crucial to keeping order in the new republic. There was little in the way of law enforcement, without which chaos would rule. If citizens didn’t keep order on their own or as a group, there would be no order. And if those citizens didn’t retain the right to bear arms, they could hardly be counted on to keep order.
Times are different now. We don’t have well-regulated militias because we don’t need them. In fact, the argument could be made that attempts to install militias have incited more chaos than order.
But that’s not to say that bearing arms is not a legitimate right. The justification for them as mentioned by the founding fathers may have evaporated, but the right remains important to too many people to take it away.
Every time the wrong person gets hold of the wrong weapon, calls erupt for the repeal of the Second Amendment, or at least a tempering of it. Then, the pro-gun side of the argument holds up the constitution as its claim to a virtual divine blessing.
In return, the anti-gun faction points to what it deeply believes is the fallacy in citing an obsolete document based on the need for local militias.