(USA Today: March 2, 2014)
At present, we've reached the point where the Second Amendment can be characterized as ordinary constitutional law. That is, it now protects a right that attaches to individuals, and that those individuals can enforce in federal court.
Of course "ordinary constitutional law" doesn't mean that everything is settled — in fact, an area in which all the legal questions were settled once and for all would be more like extraordinary constitutional law. But it does mean that questions relating to gun ownership, gun carrying, and the like are now dealt with in the same way that federal courts deal with other questions of constitutional rights.
Overall, the trend of the past couple of decades seems to be toward expanding gun rights, just as the trend in the 1950s and 1960s was toward expanding free speech rights. America has more guns in private hands than ever before, even as crime rates fall, and, after a half-century or so of anti-gun hysteria, the nation seems to be reverting to its generally gun-friendly traditions.
This is, admittedly, a quote from the middle of a slightly longer opinion article by the Estimable Glenn Reynolds.
Follow the link, RTWT (Read The Whole Thing) not only to follow his lovely history of Defense of the Second Amendment Today, but also to click on, and bookmark, the links to a half=dozen of the most meaningful court cases on Second Amendment Rights in America during the past 100 years.
Oh, he has only hit the top of the list (Heller, Macdonald, Moore, Peruga) and one can't fault him for ignoring, for example, Miller) but it's a great way to start your own computerized reference library of links to significant court cases pertaining to RKBA issues.
But we would be disrespecting Reynolds' contribution if we only focused on the links he provided. That is background only, in this context.
More background? Links to constitutional scholars on the subject:
But then came a wave of scholarship, much of it by eminent constitutional scholars ranging from William Van Alstyne, to Laurence Tribe, to Sanford Levinson, to Robert Cottrol, exploring the original purposes and understanding of the Second Amendment.(I've referenced Levinson on this site, recently ... haven't yet got around to parsing the other authors, but I will.)
Reynolds thesis is that Second Amendment issues have not been in the forefront of either public nor judicial attention until the last ten or 20 years. Now, however, it can be said that it is receiving the same attention as First Amendment issues enjoyed in the decades immediately preceding.
Most of the people who stop by here seem disinclined to argue with my personal opinion that the first two amendments form the background of the constitution ... essentially, the right to speak your piece and worship your God, and discuss your beliefs with your neighbors, etc; and your right to defend those rights!
I've often considered whether I should publish an article explaining the Bill of Rights in 21st Century terms. And I've always realized the anyone who cares can do the same thing on his own time, and for me to presume to 'reach' the Bill of Rights would be ... well, if someone offered to explain the constitution to me, I would be offended. So I won't do that.
But if you are going to TALK about the 2nd amendment, I continue to submit that the Reynolds article provides some valuable 'background' information.