Those clauses give Congress the power to call out the militia and "to provide for organizing, arming and disciplining" it.According to the state's right interpretation, the amendment was motivated by fear that Congress might order the states' organized militias disarmed, thereby leaving the states powerless against federal tyranny.In the pre-colonial English tradition there had been no police and no standing army in peacetime. From time immemorial every free Englishman had been both permitted and required to keep such arms as a person of his class could afford both for law enforcement and for military service. With arms readily available in their homes, Englishmen were theoretically prepared at all times to chase down felons in response to the hue and cry, or to assemble together as an impromptu army in case of foreign invasion of their shire. When the American colonies were founded the militia system was in full flower in England.It was adopted perforce in the colonies, which were thousands of miles by sail from any succor the Mother Country might provide.(4) Conversely, if all these controls are consistent with the gun-owner groups' position, how can they contend that registration and licensing requirements are not? In short, even if the historical evidence does establish an individual right to arms, it remains to define its parameters, particularly with regard to gun control rather than gun prohibition-confiscation. One of the purposes of this Article will be to sketch out at least some of the very substantial limitations on the right of individuals to keep and bear arms suggested by the historical evidence. First, however, the controversy between the individual right and the exclusively state's right views must be resolved.
Though the federal government could not be denied authority to maintain a small army, the basic military defense of the country would rest in the states' reserved power to maintain their own organized military forces.This they need not do today when any value the amendment might presently have for them is satisfied by their federally-provided National Guard structure.Advocates of the individual right position, on the other hand, rely on the fact that the natural reading of the amendment's phrase "right of the people" is that it creates not a state right, but one which individuals can assert.Though it yet lingers in the Constitution, it does not (for it was never against confiscation of arms.Rather, it guarantees an exclusive right of the states, which only the states have standing to invoke.