Believing that the [second] amendment does not authorize an individual’s right to keep and bear arms is wrong. The right to bear arms is an individual right. The military connotation of bearing arms does not necessarily determine the meaning of a right to bear arms. If all it meant was the right to be a soldier or serve in the military, whether in the militia or the army, it would hardly be a cherished right and would never have reached constitutional status in the Bill of Rights. The “right” to be a soldier does not make much sense. Life in the military is dangerous and lonely, and a constitutionally protected claim or entitlement to serve in uniform does not have to exist in order for individuals to enlist if they so choose. Moreover, the right to bear arms does not necessarily have a military connotation, because Pennsylvania, whose constitution of 1776 first used the phrase “the right to bear arms,” did not even have a state militia. In Pennsylvania, therefore, the right to bear arms was devoid of military significance. Moreover, such significance need not necessarily be inferred even with respect to states that had militias. Bearing arms could mean having arms. Indeed, Blackstone’s Commentaries spoke expressly of the “right to have arms.” An individual could bear arms without being a soldier or militiaman.
Leonard W. Levy, ORIGINS OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS 134-35 (Yale Univ. Press 1999).