In recent years, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has promoted the idea that reasonable gun control measures, such as keeping those on the terrorist watch list from purchasing weapons or banning military-style assault rifles, are, somehow, in violation of the Second Amendment.
Historically, the Supreme Court has considered the meaning of the Second Amendment on a number of occasions. In U.S. v. Cruikshank (1876), the Court ruled that,
The NRA was founded by a group of Union Army officers after the Civil War. It sponsored shooting training and competitions. In 1934, the NRA testified in support of the first federal gun law, which cracked down on the machine guns used by Bonnie and Clyde and other bank robbers. When a lawmaker asked whether the proposal violated the Constitution, the NRA witness said: “I have not given it any study from that point of view.”
Beginning in 1977, the NRA changed course and began a 30 year legal campaign to change how the courts and the country saw the Second Amendment. Millions of dollars were spent subsidizing scholars and law professors who would promote their new-found view of the Second Amendment.
Even the Court majority, however, affirmed that the government had the power to regulate the purchase of weapons. In the majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia noted that:
In his dissent in Heller, Justice John Paul Stevens writes:
As Justice Stevens declared,