I will just leave this response from back in February in a thread in the Tinderbox. Doesn't directly answer all the points some of you made, but it is too late in the evening to type up a full proper response to G&J and others:
Yes I have read that, and have read everything from the Federalist Papers to the Anti-Federalist papers along with other writings from that time, and have a certified print of the Senate's original mark up of the Bill of Rights.
The 2nd amendment was about military service, and was in response to the ability for States to raise militias for self defense against other States invading, protecting them against the Indians, and protecting their sovereignty against the federal government's proposed new found power to raise an army with the President as commander and chief.
One of the more persuasive arguments by the anti-federalists when they spoke out against the ratification of the Constitution, was there was major concern that the new federal government gave themselves the ability to create a federal Army and Navy, as well as have the President the authority of commander and chief over the State militias. They viewed it as a threat to State sovereignty, and was concerned that there was no provisions in the Constitution assuring the States that the federal government would not have standing armies and navies in time of peace. The proponents of the Constitution expressed that they felt it was blasphemous to suggest the federal government would ever have standing armies in times of peace because the only military available was the State militias, and the authority would only be exercised if Congress declared war.
To quell this concern the 2nd amendment was added to the Bill of Rights in order to assure the States that the federal government couldn't create laws to attempt to disarm the State militias in case they needed it for self defense, whether it be another State invading them, or Indians, or even the federal government trying to overthrow them for the purposes of absolute rule.
The militias that were raised by the individual states, were not allowed to be standing militias in time of peace, and were comprised of the people who volunteered if they were called upon. It says in Article 1 Section 10 that "No state shall, without consent from Congress, lay any duty on tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit delay" So in order for the State to have an armed military for self defense they had to have an armed populous of volunteers that could be called by the government for military service.
The Constitution mentions the State militias in Article 2 Section 2 "The President shall be commander and chief of the Army and Navy, and the militias of the several States"
There was not a standing US Army until after the Civil War
At that time the entire military was comprised of ordinary people who would volunteer in times of war. The only way the 2nd amendment would even be applicable in today's world is if the US military was decommissioned and people were compelled into service in times of war.
Basically, the 2nd amendment was in the Bill of Rights to give the Federal and State governments the ability to raise military forces when needed for war, not so the populous could fight the federal government.
When you read a lot of the papers of the time, many anti-federalists used the phrase "the people" and "individual states" almost interchangeably. They felt the states had a better grasp of their people than a federal government could. The amendment was not for the general population to be able to fight off a tyrannical federal government but for the individual sovereign State to be able to defend itself against a tyrannical federal government.
That happened in 1860's during the Civil War. A war the southern states lost. Before the Civil War there was no standing US army. Now there are federal military bases in all 50 states and those states no longer have any real State sponsored militias. You could make the argument that since the Civil War we have been under a Federal Government military occupation. That is why, I say the amendment became obsolete after the Civil War. There is now a standing US Army even in times of peace.
We no longer need an armed population in order to raise a military. We have a standing military.
In case you still don't think the Amendment was put in there for the ability to raise armies consider the original text of the Amendment:
"A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State; the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person"
I think that it makes clear that the intention of the Amendment was to provide the State and Federal governments with the ability to raise armies, not so the general population could fight the government.
Edited by teeray, 15 May 2014 - 12:04 AM.