A request from Fellow blogger Fearless has me contemplating how Anarchists view the second amendment. It would be all to easy to say that Anarchists support it outright. Although many of us do in fact support it, and the various interpretations of it, that is simply too easy of an answer. So let's begin with some basics.
The second amendment states:
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.
One would think that the amendment itself is rather clear cut, but for years the debate has been ferocious. The original intent of our forefathers is unclear. While states had militias, and rag-tag militias were created at different points in history, the amendment would seem to encourage the arming of actual military personnel. At the time it was written, that would be the people, but in today's world, that would be a professional military. The other argument for a regulated right to bear arms focuses on the type of weapon being bought and used. Some argue that many modern day weapons were never intended to be used by the general public, and so should be highly regulated or outright banned for personal use.
The other argument focuses mainly on the forefathers intelligent reasoning that the people must be armed in case the need to revolt against an illegitimate government, should one come to power and take control of the national military. Much in the way that England's professional army was used against the original American Revolutionaries. Their argument for access to certain modern day weapons may also stem to the previous argument in the sense that we would need to have equal access to the same weapons being used against us.
Both arguments have some credibility.
We cannot know the original intention of the amendment outright, but I would argue that the pro arms argument that we need to have access to weapons just in case of a dictatorship forming sounds like the most plausible intention. After all, that is exactly what our forefathers experienced just prior to writing the constitution and it's amendments. Honestly, it isn't a stretch.
On the other hand, I give the pro regulation crowd some leeway with their interpretation of the right to regulate arms with regards to certain modern weapons. Full automatic weapons designed to kill dumptrucks do seem to be excessive, and, would certainly not have been considered by the authors during the addition of the second amendment. Weapons like that simply didn't exist, unless you include cannons, which was not considered an arm we had the right to bear. So they may have a point there.
There is a strict divide of opinions regarding guns ownership for personal safety, and almost no divide on the right to own arms used for hunting.
More to the point, the real debate now resides over regulation of such arms.
As it stands now, most states have similar laws and regulations regarding the attainment of personal weapons. Namely that one must pass a multiple day hold and background check prior to purchasing a gun legally, and most states require licensing and gun safety courses for the right to carry a gun on one's person. There is little debate on the inability to carry firearms into certain buildings or public spaces such as schools, government buildings and courts, and most states have regulations on where and when a person can hunt.
Speaking on a personal level, Anarchists have, use, or carry guns. Generally speaking we use guns to hunt, first and foremost. Although not all Anarchists hunt, the ones I know personally do. Many of them are also ex-military and have been well trained in firearm safety and use. We also follow the laws and regulations on gun ownership.
There is little debate among my fellow Anarchists about gun ownership and the right to arm oneself. Contrary to popular belief we aren't nearly as violent and destructive as the media portrays us, and wreak very little havoc in our daily lives. But because we are so adamantly opposed to illegitimate authority, the threat of having a dictatorship or dictator-esque take control and seize our rights or ability to defend ourselves is enough of a threat to keep us supporting the second amendment.
Now, you may be thinking that the notion of a dictatorship taking control of our country is a silly one. We have checks and balances, we have elections. We have a well armed and trained military at our disposal. But to think that we are impervious to such a coup is to be arrogant and foolish. Dictators have been democratically elected in other countries, and forceful coups can happen. Our forefathers did exactly that, and gave us the ability to arm ourselves in case another group decided to do the same thing. The relatively apathetic ideology that any and all governmental problems and coups can and should be solved by our government is irrational. Not to state the obvious but, if a dictator were to take control, we would have no government to turn to.
Which brings me to another point, the argument of regulation and record keeping. While the regulation and well kept records of gun ownership seems legitimate in our current national climate, it could prove detrimental to us should a dictator ever take control. Obviously, our rights would be revoked. Particularly the right to own and bear arms. The best way to safeguard a newly formed dictatorship is to disarm the public, quashing any hint of revolution. In fact, the registries would not only prove to quickly disarm us, but could also prove to imprison those of us who legally own arms. In this regard, the Anarchist or any revolutionary would be forced to the black market, essentially putting us back to square one with regards to arms regulation, and rendering the second amendment, and all of it's interpretations moot.
Of course, we Anarchists are not consistently worried about dictatorships and coups. But I would dare say that Anarchists and supporters of democratic republics could at the very least agree that dictators and fascists are the highest form of illegitimate authority, and should be rebelled against. So at least we'd have that in common. The other arguments of personal safety, and the ability to protect ones home do seem to vary a little bit in the Anarchist circles, but tend to remain on fairly even ground. Generally, we like having the ability to protect ourselves, we like being able to use guns to hunt, and some of us just like guns to shoot in target ranges as a sport.
*A note about guns and gun ownership. Guns are successful with regards to their intended purpose, which is to say they kill things, and well at that. The only reason I personally support licensing and regulations on guns at the moment is because of the requirement of gun safety courses. They outline the law, they teach you how to use a gun, and they teach you what not to do. Guns are serious business, they are not toys. If citizens could take it upon themselves to self regulate their gun ownership educations we could do away with licensing altogether and avoid future problems down the road. However this requires a great deal of personal responsibility and accountability. You do not point a weapon at someone unless you intend to kill them, period. If you do point and pull the trigger, you must be willing to face whatever consequences that result from that action. If you own a gun, you are responsible for it, end of story.
Cornell Law, annotated Constitution
Court Rulings on Firearms - Second Amendment Interpretations
Civil Liberties, Second amendment interpretations
History Matters, the second amendment
US Constitution online, state's rights and the second amendment