The Guarantor of Freedom
I have what I believe to be the best argument for the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, and for it being interpreted as it has over the entire history of America, that it guarantees a personal right to bear arms and a collective right to organize a militia.
To share my argument, I'll start with a little exercise. Imagine if you will you live in a democratic-republic country, like America, that guarantees such rights as freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and freedom of association and protects property rights. I think the most beloved of all rights to both the political left and the political right are those previously listed rights, except for perhaps property rights. So in this country, that has been around for some years, the people enjoy their rights and exercise them all to their fullest extent, and the government is relatively small and mostly limited to its sphere of national defense. As has been seen in America, when these rights are guaranteed, prosperity spreads. Unfortunately, with these rights also comes some depravity, like the kind that characterizes America to most of the middle-eastern and eastern countries. Because of this undesirable quality, support for those who want censorship grows and eventually the majority of the elected seats of government believe something should be done about how people use their freedom of speech, and freedom of conscience, and freedom of association. In effect, they want to take away some of these rights and now have the power to do it.
So ask yourself, in a country like the one just described, would the personal right to bear arms and the collective right to organize a militia be beneficial in protecting the rights guaranteed to all, especially the minority?
I don't believe there are greater rights than the rights guaranteed us personally and collectively by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. They are the rights that guarantee every American the other rights in the Constitution: the right to freedom of religion, the right to free speech, or of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, the right against unwarranted searches and seizures, the right to a speedy and public trial by jury and due process of law and to the assistance of counsel, the right to just compensation for when private property is taken for public use, and the right against excessive bail and excessive fines.
Further, I believe the primary purpose of the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment is to do what I have above described, protection from tyranny in government. Only secondary is it for protection from individuals; criminals and so forth.
The argument above is the best and fullest anyone who wants to defend the Second Amendment needs, minus scholarly reference. Typically, those who don't like the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment, specifically the personal right to bear arms, don't realize how necessary they are in protecting the rights they love: the rights to free speech and the press, and the right against a government establishment of religion. No dictator from the last century was able to murder millions of his own people without first disarming them. I hope we all will let that be a lesson to us.
(I also don't believe the government should be entrusted with weapons not entrusted first to the people, weapons of mass destruction excluded. I exclude WMDs because basically no government should have them, but unfortunately they are necessary and I don't believe a government would or could ever use WMDs against it's own, armed, people.)