An excellent question has arisen over the recent gun control debate. If semi-automatic rifles are protected under the second amendment, why aren't missile launchers? Why aren't grenades? Why aren't tanks?
It all started to Saint Valentine's Day 1929. On that day Al Capone sent a group of his South Side gangsters down to his rival's North Side gang's business. The South Siders lined up and killed 7 North Siders with automatic Thompson sub-machine guns.
The public was outraged. And instead of going after the real problem, prohibition of alcohol, they went after the guns. The National Firearms Act was passed. This was to protect the public from "gangster weapons", the buzzword the gun banners used at the time to make the guns sound scary and dangerous.
Sound familiar? It should. Today we have "Assault weapons" to make the guns sound dangerous. And we have our very own prohibition of drugs that is to blame for the majority of the murders in the United States.
The National Firearms Act made illegal virtually all military style weapons. Anything that blows up was covered in the broad category of Destructive Devices. This is also why if you want a suppressor (silencer), you need to go through a bunch of red tape.
The National Firearms Act is why it is very difficult to get an actual "Assault Rifle" (Remember that an Assault Rifle is one with a detectable magazine, fires an intermediate round, and has a selector between semi-automatic and automatic or burst fire).
The National Firearms Act is the foundation for all gun control laws since. Everything is based on its president.
So, how does The National Firearms Act square with the Second Amendment? The short answer is... we don't know because a full challenge has never been brought to the Supreme Court. Small challenges have been brought, most notably US vs Miller in 1938. Miller transported a short barreled shotgun across state lines. Short barreled shotguns are covered in NFA, so that was illegal. The state's argument was that short barreled shotguns are not military weapons, therefore would not be in use by a militia.
Interesting argument, because aren't automatic weapons needed by a militia?? hummmmm
Anyway, in district court, Miller won, because... The state's argument was stupid. However, on direct appeal to SCOUS Miller lost because... he didn't put up a defense in SCOUS... No one knows why, they just didn't show up for court.
Since then, the big money backer of cases dealing with the second amendment has been the National Rifle Association. The NRA's assertion has always been around hunting. Therefore their arguments have come from the hunter's perspective. When the founders first wrote the second amendment the focus was on allowing the people to be armed so that they could fight another revolution. They lived through a disarming of the public, and saw what happens when the population is unarmed against an armed, tyrannical government. The second amendment was put in place so that the people could retain the ability to fight.
Of course if you say that now, people think you are absolutely nuts and stop listening to you. The people are used to a relatively benevolent government looking out for them.
In my opinion, the argument should have never strayed away from the military function of the people. All you really need for hunting is a bow and arrow... Or a spear. This is not the function of the second amendment.
So, in fact the right of the people to keep and bare arms HAS been infringed. It has been infringed on so deeply that we are now fighting for the very last gasp of that right left to us.
Think of it like this. FICTION In 1924 it was decided that groups such as the KKK and other racial groups should not be saying what they are saying. An act was then passed to outright ban the KKK and put all forms of speech in to categories.
During WWII, we didn't want people to speak out against the war, so we banned that with another law, that drew on the KKK Act as its justification.
Since then, little laws here and there have been put in to place that restrict the people's ability to criticize ANYTHING that the government does.
A small fringe group of people liked political comedy. So they stuck up for the First Amendment only around the strict confines of Political Comedy.
Fast forward to 2012. A political joke was taken too far and the subject of the joke killed himself and his entire family by pushing them off a building then jumping over the edge himself.
The public is outraged, and serious talk is now called for to finally end this dangerous thing that is political comedy.
The fringe group is hard pressed to come up with reasons for why they need to have political comedy, because they have other forms of comedy out there. There may have been a need for political comedy back in 1776, but the founders never intended for political jokes to be so funny.
See the correlation?
So, after all of that, why can't I buy a missile launcher? Because some gangsters shot some rivals over a few barrels of hooch back in 1929.
The second amendment intends for the people to be as well armed as the government itself. You SHOULD have the ability to buy such weapons. The reason for these weapons is so that you and your neighbors can stage a revolution. That is not a crazy answer. That is a valid reason.
The right to keep and bare arms has been infringed to the point of irrelevancy. The gun nuts are only trying to hold on to the very last bit of their freedom. When this freedom goes, with the anti-gunners saying that it was an archaic amendment, what will happen to the other archaic amendments? Like the fourth amendment? The fifth amendment? The first?
Freedom is a fragile and difficult thing. It forces personal responsibility. That is something people just don't want anymore.