by Mytheos Holt, The Blaze  |  published on December 21, 2012

Whenever the subject of gun control comes up, supporters of the practice (generally of the liberal persuasion) inevitably run up against one major roadblock to pushing sweeping laws — specifically, the United States constitution, and its second amendment, which protects a sweeping right to keep and bear arms.

Thus, experts have read the amendment in a way that hasn’t banned the ownership of weapons altogether. This reading has only been strengthened by recent Supreme Court cases such as District of Columbia vs. Heller, and McDonald vs. Chicago, which have codified the right to keep and bear arms as being as important as other rights such as the right to free speech.

Undoubtedly, this is frustrating to many opponents of gun rights, since even in moments of widely felt national tragedy like the present moment, their agenda requires a constitutional justification as well as a political one – a fact that puts them at a permanent disadvantage relative to gun rights supporters.

Which is why opponents of gun rights have seized on a well-worn constitutional argument in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary. That argument – an old chestnut of the anti-gun community – is that the second amendment doesn’t actually grant every American a right to keep and bear arms, and is in fact obsolete because it only applies to members of state militias. This argument focuses on what legal scholars call the prefatory clause of the second amendment, bolded below for emphasis:

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.

So since the amendment itself mentions the maintenance of “well regulated” militias as the purpose of the right to keep and bear arms, the argument goes, gun control is perfectly permissible so long as it only targets private citizens and not state militias. In fact, the liberal Daily Beast published an article on Tuesday making this exact argument.

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