Question by President Obama
State of the Union 2016
“So let's talk about the future, and four big questions that we as a country have to answer — regardless of who the next President is, or who controls the next Congress.
First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy?”
What kind of life is proper for a person living among other people? The question becomes a debate about whether the individual or the group has rights that dominate. Also, the debate extends to duties and obligations owed to the group or owed to individuals.
One example of an individual right in conflict with group rights is Amendment II: “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.” In 2008, the Supreme Court (DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA v. HELLER (No. 07-290) 478 F. 3d 370) decided 5-4 to not allow the District of Columbia to have a law restricting firearms.
US citizens in the 21st Century do not “give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security” when the individual right to firearms dominates the group right to security.
Federal and State governments in the 21st Century do not have, nor need a militia of armed citizens. Governments created each state national guard. The right of individuals to possess and bear arms must be subordinate to the laws permitting the state national guard to possess firearms. The Second Amendment is not about individual rights. The primary subject is a “well regulated militia” for the “security of a free state.” The group right to security dominates the individual right to firearms.
Gun laws are found in many federal statutes. These laws regulate the manufacture, trade, possession, transfer, record keeping, transport, and destruction of firearms, ammunition, and firearms accessories. They are enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
In the McDonald v. City of Chicago decision in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that, because of the incorporation of the Bill of Rights, the guarantee of an individual right to bear arms applies to state and local gun control laws and not just federal laws.
The Supreme Court has not ruled on whether or not the Second Amendment protects the right to carry guns in public for self defense. There are federal and state laws that restrict a citizen’s right to carry concealed firearms.
The clear purpose and historical context of the Second Amendment was militia service. The amendment does not create a legal rule that protects the individual right to possess and carry fire arms outside the context of service in a state militia. In the 21st Century, an individual, that is a member of the state national guard, has the right and duty to possess and carry firearms as part of their service as limited by the rules, regulations and laws that control that right.
The original source of the right to bear arms was the English Bill of Rights from 1689: subjects who are Protestants may bear arms for their defense as permitted by law. There were two restrictions then, you had to be a member of a group called Protestants and you could only possess firearms “as permitted by law.” The origin of the right to bear arms does not promote individual rights over the group right to use the law to regulate firearms.
The Second Amendment does not give an individual the right to possess and carry firearms without being a member of a group that is designated by state law in service of the government. As a result, the traditional interpretation of the right to bear arms shall not dominate the federal and state government’s exclusive right to control access to firearms. Therefore the federal and state governments have the right to restrict and control firearms so that only members of designated federal and state government organizations possess and carry firearms.