Be sure to vote, I am curious where most atheists stand on this issue.

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Yes, the Supreme Court can get it wrong--think of Plessy v. Ferguson.  That decision enshrined segration for three generations.  It was supposed to be separate but equal.  The separate part was gotten spot on, but the equal not so much.

That decision was in 1896, it was not overturned until 1954 in Brown v. The Board of Education.

@Dustin, that is perhaps true.

The problem that I see with it is the notion of militia.  Colonial militia trained together, regularly.  Individuals in the colonial militia had ranks and an established chain of command.  They were "called up" by the elected governor of the state.  They also had a full range of modern arms:  there were colonial militia and merchant marine with cannon and explosives.

By contrast, some dude with an AR-15 is not the same thing.  He's not engaged in regular military training; in fact, odds are he has very limited civilian training, so he'd be incompetent when facing a sudden situation requiring armed action.  He hasn't practiced with his neighbors, so he'd just be a hindrance when facing a genuine invasion.  He's not part of an established chain of command, and he's too lightly armed to effectively resist a modern invading force.

The notion that a bunch of random, untrained, disorganized, leaderless guys with guns are an effective resistance force is malarkey. 

If some people really feel the need for such a force in the modern era, then they should step up and take responsibility.  They should get real law enforcement or military training, and maintain regular proficiency at that level.  They should register and participate as a reservist or auxilliary so that they're part of an established chain of command under elected civilian control.  In short, they should demonstrate the maturity, responsibility, and honor that comes with bearing arms.

Sighs. Such a difficult topic.

As a pragmatist I feel that enough of this country has interpreted and feels that this "right" given to the citizenry in the second amendment entitles gun ownership in some form and that should be respect. Having said that I feel that guns should be heavily regulated. Gun show loop-hole should be gotten rid off. Licenses and registration of all guns mandatory. I feel assault rifles and machine guns have no place in our society.

Now the idealist in me thinks otherwise. I think the second amendment was meant for a militia which is now is our national guard, and they can and do arm themselves as much as they would like. I think a handgun was invented to kill a person and should be completely illegal. I think if anything, hunting rifles could be allowed but again, heavily regulated with licensing and registration required. As an idealist, I would hope that like religion, we will outgrow war and violence and weapons.

That's my two cents. For what it's I've thought a lot about this issue for a long time. Glad you brought it up.

Robert K., a difficult topic indeed.

I remind idealistic atheists that our long-ago ancestors were (take your choice) blue-green algae / cyanobacteria / pond scum and the big strong ones ate (or engulfed) the small weak ones.

Many millenia later, enough of the small weak ones presented the big strong ones with a choice: "If you won't tyrannize us, we won't assassinate you." In some parts of the world, the contest continues.

1. Self defense -concealed weapon permit for when away from home; training and background check mandatory plus the yearly permit fees.

                         -home invasion; asking the invader to wait til the sheriff get's there doesn't work real well.

2. We have the right to replace our government when it no longer serves the common good of the people. Having an armed citizenry will make that goal more possible if it ever becomes necessary. Are we getting close?

3. It's none of the government's business what firearms I own. I pay my taxes and haven't been convicted - that's all they need to know. 

4. Mandatory firearms training for a hunting license is extremely helpful.  Education is a good thing when it comes to high speed projectiles.

1. When seconds count the police are only minutes away.

2. Getting closer everyday, thru out history ALL empires have failed.

3. Contained in the 4th Amendment.

4. All tools are dangerous in the hands of an untrained or poorly trained individual.

"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." To me as an American, means that in order for a citizen to keep and bear arms, he or she had to be part of a regulated militia. At that time in our history, we did not have a regular army. Instead we had militias that were sanctioned and regulated by states and counties. That is how I read it and I think anyone with any common sense would read it.

Additionally, at the time of the constitution, punctuation was used very differently. Today we use commas to show a pause or to transition to another part of a sentence. Then the comma was used to compliment the previous statement in a sentence. So, the right to bear arms will not be infringed if you belong to a well regulated militia that is necessary to the security of a free state.

If your interpretation is indeed correct then Congress needs to rewrite that amendment and remove any ambiguity about this country's core belief that each and every one of it's law abiding citizens has the right to possess and bear arms.

Cameron:

Please provide evidence for your militias "...were sanctioned and regulated by states and counties."

I don't know about "evidence", but here in Georgia, originally the state was divided into Militia Districts, and there was a head of the militia in that district.  I know this continued until the Civil War. 

Knowing Militia Districts in GA is needed to do some genealogical work.  That is how I know.

I'm ok with people owning guns for specific reasons. Hunting, target shooting, it's a family heirloom and so on. I'm 100% in support of strong regulations on just who can own guns and where guns are allowed. I hate that in certain parts of the US people just walk around with them all the time. It's like they are looking for a reason to use it so they can feel all big and powerful and justify their wearing of the gun all the damn time.

As for the argument about needing guns to protect ourselves from our government if need be. I think that's a lame excuse for wanting a gun. If the government decides to come after us we're kinda fucked whether we have guns or not. The military/government is always going to have the bigger guns in a military/government vs citizen scenario. Also any event catastrophic enough to break up the USA is going to break up the military too. So more likely we'd have a military vs military conflict with citizens being fucked in between. 

Becca I live in a rural area where it's normal for people to have weapons on their belts just like cell phones. Honestly I'm much less worried about the people who make others aware that they are carrying as those people aren't the ones robbing or shooting people in the vast majority of cases. It's the people who hide their weapons that are the ones that worry me. Most police will tell you the open carry people hardly bother them. Now do I think it can be silly sometimes depending on the setting yes I do. While I don't think we will be having any uprisings anytime soon against some facist government that forms and you bring up some vaild arguments about the government always having bigger guns but people can point to many cases where one force has every advantage weapon wise but are still unable to cope with non-traditional warfare. Looking at the revolutionary war you have a government vs citizen scenario where the worlds most powerful military with the most advanced weapons in the world was unable to put down an uprising by regular citizens. It's a much harder  and unpopular choice to make if you face armed citizens where you would be forced to used heavy handed tactics to deal with them. Basically yes hunting rifles aren't going to destory tanks but you shouldn't under estimate the private gun ownerships effects on public policy.

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