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 avoid confusion, in large font and italicized,so you realize that the words are really important, I have quoted the Second Amendment to the Constitution. This is one of the more controversial and oft debated clauses in the document.
The sub-issue of the arguments that I would like to address seems to result from the sentence structure of the amendment. The sentence leads with a subordinate clause which seems to state a purpose for the amendment before the operative clause which actually gives instruction to the Congress and courts. I have read arguments that, because of the reference to a militia in the subordinate clause, claim that the right to keep and bear arms mandated by the operative clause must only apply for purposes of serving in the militia. To anybody who holds this belief I have one question.
If militia service is really so integral in the right to bear arms, then why is the operative clause of the amendment written in the manner that it is?
The wording of the subordinate clause does not inevitably lead to the operative clause. Instead of "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed," which pretty clearly spells out that people can have guns, knives, swords, bows and arrows, and tomahawks, could have been expressed in numerous different ways to ensure limitation of the possession of weapons to those actively participating in militia drill or emergency response. While the archaic language used in the Constitution might seem confusing for the modern reader, it is generally straight forward, with the exception of literary creativity employed to avoid using the words "slavery" and "slave."
So, if clause in the Constitution states that the people have a right to something, then it means that the individual people have a right to that thing. If they intended that there would be exceptions to a right, they would have articulated them, as exemplified by the Third Amendment, which prohibits quartering of soldiers in times of peace, "nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law." Limitations on the right of the homeowner are included in the amendment itself.
The conclusion I draw from this is that the authors of the Second Amendment intended the right to bear arms as an individual right, otherwise it would not be written to express it as an individual right.