The Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own guns. (Opinion here.) According to Tom Goldstein, “The opinion leaves open the question whether the Second Amendment is incorporated against the States, but strongly suggests it is. So today’s ruling likely applies equally to State regulation.” (UPDATE: More on incorporation from Eugene Volokh.)
The vote was 5-4, which leaves the matter intact as a political issue. This probably helps McCain.
Finally, there’s this gem:
In a dissent he summarized from the bench, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the majority “would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons.”
For Justice Stevens to suddenly discover the idea of original intent is the height of chutzpah. Moreover, his application is complete nonsense; the Framers weren’t contemplating the regulation of civilian weapons one way or the other.
UPDATE: The bit about a “well regulated Militia” is directly addressed on page one of the syllabus:
(a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms.
(b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.