Amendment II to the Constitution of the United States of America.
"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."
I'm not a constitutional scholar or expert, just an educated citizen. A couple of observations.
"The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed, for the purpose of keeping a well regulated Militia to insure the security of a free State."
First point : anyone who believes that the Second Amendment authorizes the unregulated use of firearms is incorrect in believing so.
Second point : anyone who believes the Second Amendment authorizes public use of firearms for anything other than the defense of either individual states or the nation as a whole seems to be leaping to this conclusion in a breathtaking manner.
Third point : Militia. If you go to the Army National Guard web site you will be informed that "The National Guard traces its history back to the earliest English colonies in North America. Responsible for their own defense, the colonists drew on English military tradition and organized their able-bodied male citizens into militias." The role of the militia as it was understood at the time of the writing of the Constitution has been subsequently subsumed by the Army National Guard.
Fourth point : People who carry a gun because they are concerned about being oppressed by the government are harboring thoughts, which if acted upon, would be treasonous. The Constitution does not support this behavior. The Constitution established institutions which support the orderly operation of government and keeping of the peace (to insure life, liberty[within boundaries], and the pursuit of happiness). Any actions to bring harm to these institutions (including local and federal law enforcement, and other public agencies) in the execution of their Constitutionally prescribed duties [e.g. Oklahoma Federal Bldg] is treason.
Therefore, if you are carrying a gun in the execution of your duties as a National Guardsman to insure state security, I will have no problem with you.
If you are not a National Guardsman, and not otherwise a professional Law Enforcement Officer, or otherwise required by your profession to carry a gun, and in any case you carry a gun outside of the execution of your professional duties, I have a big problem with you as a fellow hiker out there on the trail with your gun.
Posession and use of firearms by the general public is not a right granted by the Constitution. It is a privilege which is granted by Federal, State, and local authorities. The privilege can be revoked without any violation of the Bill of Rights.
Violence begets violence. As an American, I see this issue in terms of the fact that in America, the tendancy to resort to, and public tolerance of, aggression including the use of a firearm to solve problems has become ingrained into our culture, while in other Industrialized nations, they have sought out other, less agressive solutions to these same problems, much to the tranquility of their populations.
Take for example the topic of snakes in the wild. How do we deal with them?
We can :
a: choose to take a gun to protect oneself from them, or
b: choose to keep our wits about us and take a snake bite kit for the very rare occasion we might get bitten.
Judging from the posts (which I must believe was 99.9% dominated by Americans) it seems the posters would choose the former. I believe from my experience that most citizens of other industrialized/developed nations would choose the latter. (This is of course only anectdotal, but please not my extensive international experience before writing this off).
P.S. And there is no reason to believe that a position against side-arms and automatic weaponry is also a position against sportsmen who use rifles and other such sportive weaponry in a reasonable manner. The distinction is clear enough.
This recourse to aggression is self destructive and when gotten out of hand causes and will continue to cause catastrophic problems for our society.[Think of the numerous high school massacres occuring in our country]
Please readers, think about disposing of your firearms if they are not needed in the legal execution of your profession, and for those of you who do really need them by all means think of less agressive solutions to problems you may encounter on the trail, rather than the discharge of a firearm.