It goes beyond that, carp. In 1800 there was no standing army--that's something of an over-simplification, but it bears an essential truth: the early US was very very wary of any standing army precisely because of the experiences with the British standing army that led to the Revolutionary War in the first place. Essentially the only continuously marshaled land-based armed forces were the militia.
The militia were organized and regulated by the states and ultimately, per Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution, by the federal government. Here's the full clause, which states that the federal Congress has the power "To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress." To my mind that clause in Article 1 is essential to understanding the 2nd amendment, which begins, as the NRA refuses to acknowledge fully, with "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state. . . ."
What is a well-regulated militia in the context of 1800? Article 1 defines what it means. A militia is not a group of individuals or anything like it. It's equivalent to our current National Guard. A militia is therefore not a bulwark against federal encroachment on the citizen, but rather to be used by the federal and state governments as a means of defense against enemies foreign and domestic. I would bet a heck of a lot of money that in the phrase "enemies domestic" would be included all the so-called militias running around waving their bushmasters on private preserves all around the country. Those people might think of themselves as the last bastion of true constitutional freedom, but they're not. They're exactly what the 2nd amendment is supposed to guard against.
Gun ownership "shall not be infringed," according to the 2nd amendment, because the federal and state authorities must have access to a well-regulated militia. Nowadays the whole issue is silly precisely because we have these little things called the Army, the Marines, the Air Force.
_________________________ MACTECHubi dolor ibi digitus
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