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.
A fully contextual reading of the Second Amendment tells us that the Founding Fathers protected the right to bear arms for the sole purpose of supporting a well-regulated militia to keep America free and secure. But various gun cranks and judges have dismissed that prefatory clause and read all sorts of non-original intent into the right to bear arms—self-defense, shooting government officials we don’t like, yadda yadda.
So let’s ignore the preface and focus strictly and literally on the operative clause, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. (I’m also going to ignore that erroneous comma—a comma should never separate a subject and a predicate unless there is some intervening descriptive phrase or dependent clause.)
The Second Amendment says we may have guns. It says we may carry guns.
The Second Amendment does not say we may make guns.
It does not say we may sell guns.
It does not say that we may box up a gun and mail it across state lines.
We could shut down every gun factory and store and dealer in America today and not violate the Second Amendment. We already have 393 million firearms, more than enough to allow every living American to carry a gun. If you have a gun, you can keep it. You just can’t buy any more or sell the ones you have.
Ah, but what if your gun breaks and you want another one? Or what if you grow up in a household that chooses not to bear arms but then decide when you grow up, you want to be a hero like Kyle Rittenhouse? You can’t exercise your Second Amendment right if you can’t get your hands on a gun? To keep and bear an arm, don’t you have to be able to buy a gun or build your own from bamboo, charcoal, sulfur, and diamonds?
Well, if governments are instituted among men to secure our rights, then the government can secure our Second Amendment right by producing arms—just contract Sig Sauer to crank out a few million more M17s and M18s—and distributing them at local police stations or Army recruiting offices to every citizen willing and able to carry one. No right is absolute, of course: the government can and should decline to hand free guns to people who are drunk, crazy, angry, or elsewise identifiably dangerous. But if the government ensures that every able-bodied and responsible American who desires to keep and bear an arm can get an arm, then there is no need for private, extra-constitutional gun-running.
The Second Amendment has been perverted by profit-seekers. The Second Amendment does not protect gun commerce. End gun commerce, and we’ll defuse the fear– and machismo-stoking marketing that drives our destructive gun culture.