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.
Here is how I analyzed the debate over this amendment.
Now, the allusion to the militia combined with the use of the words "the people" has allowed gun control advocates to make the argument that the second amendment was meant only to protect organized state militias.
In my opinion, this is a nonsensical argument made cynically and disingenuously by folks with an agenda. I think the founding fathers used wording that none thought at the time would create controversy and yet more than two hundred years later we are still embroiled in controversy.
On a practical level, none of the amendments to the Constitution are amendments that give rights to the government, but rather to the people. In order to believe that the second amendment is collectivist, you would need to believe that for unknown reasons the founding fathers wanted to enumerate rights to the government among in the second amendment, even though each and every other amendment enumerates rights to the people itself.
Evidence is coming out that Judge Sotomayor is not only a collectivist but with a history of being against the 2nd amendment. The first piece of evidence was her college thesis. The thesis entitled, Race in the American Classroom, and Undying Injustice: American "Exceptionalism" and Permanent Bigotry, and Deadly Obsession: American Gun Culture, made this assertion.
In this text, the student Sotomayor explained that the Second Amendment to the Constitution did not actually afford individual citizens the right to bear arms, but only duly conferred organizations, like the military. Instead of making guns illegal, she argues that they have been illegal for individuals to own since the passing of the Bill of Rights.
This is a standard boiler plate collectivist argument. That said, this thesis was nearly 30 years ago. Judge Sotomayor wrote an opinion significantly more recently that lends more credence to her collectivist credentials. The case is Maloney V Cuomo. This case challenged the state of New York's 30 plus year ban on numchuks. In writing her opinion, Judge Sotomayor stated this.
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the decision of the court below, finding that U.S. Supreme Court precedent from 1886 (Presser v. Illinois) was still good law, and that the Second Amendment does not apply to the states. The Second Circuit also found that New York has a "rational basis" for prohibiting the possession of nunchaku in general.
Now, the idea that Sotomayor believes that the 2nd amendment only applies to the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is one that raises a lot of troubling issues. For instance, if she believes that the 2nd amendment only applies to the federal government, how does she feel about the first amendment? Does she believe that a state government can engage in censorship? It wouldn't be logical to not believe this if she believes the 2nd amendment doesn't apply to states but only to the federal government.
Second, what are her views on the tenth amendment?
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people
Generally, we view the tenth amendment as a state's rights issue. In that, we believe that all that isn't enumerated in the constitution is left to the states. Yet, it is clear from the text that states have no rights to make policy in anything that is specifically prohibited in the Constitution. The 2nd amendment is one such issue. If the 2nd amendment gives every individual the right to bear arms, how can Judge Sotomayor say that it only prohibits the federal government from infringing on this right?
Such a view would effectively dilute the idea of any rights. If Judge Sotomayor sees the 2nd amendment as only a federal government issue then effectively there are no rights. That's because by her view the states can effectively infringe on any right enumerated in the Constitution. A state could pass a law in conflict with the fourth amendment and allow warrantless searches and Judge Sotomayor would say that the 4th amendment only applies to the Federal government.
If you want to know just how dangerous an activist judicial philosophy is it is embedded in the idea that a right enumerated in the Constitution only applies to the Federal government. Such a view of the Constitution could lead a judge to essentially make nearly any law anywhere Constitutional.