AMENDMENT II: 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.

ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8 (Powers of Congress): To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

I’ve seen it argued that private citizens shouldn’t have the right to own weapons for fun, but rather the reason given for the right to bear arms is for the purpose of maintaining “a well regulated Militia.” And the reason we have a Militia is to “suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.”  And the reason we want to suppress insurrections and repel invasion is “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

However, I’m inclined to read the Second Amendment as saying, “People have a right to keep and bear arms and because we want to make sure our militia is filled with people who know how to use them, we don’t want to infringe on that.”  The distinction is that the “well regulated militia” is not a general justification for the right to bear arms, but a specific justification for mentioning it in the founding document of the land.

The Constitution does not mention self-defense by the individual.  The Ninth Amendment says, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,” though. The notion of self-defense as an individual right is well-established among the ideas and philosophical underpinnings from which the Constitution is drawn. So, it’s safe to argue that the Founding Fathers took a person’s own right to defend their person and property with firearms as a given.