Former Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Warren Burger argues that the sale, purchase, and use of guns should be regulated just as automobiles and boats are regulated; such regulations would not violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees a "right of the people to keep and bear arms." However, the meaning of this clause cannot be understood apart from the purpose, the setting, and the objectives of the draftsmen. At the time of the Bill of Rights, people were apprehensive about the new national government presented to them, and this helps explain the language and purpose of the Second Amendment. It guarantees, "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." The need for a State militia was the predicate of the "right" guarantee, so as to protect the security of the State. Today, of course, the State militia serves a different purpose. A huge national defense establishment has assumed the role of the militia of 200 years ago. Americans have a right to defend their homes, and nothing should undermine this right; nor does anyone question that the Constitution protects the right of hunters to own and keep sporting guns for hunting anymore than anyone would challenge the right to own and keep fishing rods and other equipment for fishing. Neither does anyone question the right of citizens to keep and own an automobile. Yet there is no strong interest by the citizenry in questioning the power of the State to regulate the purchase or the transfer of such a vehicle and the right to license the vehicle and the driver with reasonable standards. It is even more desirable for the State to have reasonable regulations for the ownership and use of a firearm in an effort to stop mindless homicidal carnage.
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