The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second Amendments means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress, and has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the National Government.One would have to say it is cryptic. At least on first glance.
But, it is quite pithy. Why would the Second Amendment right only mean that the "right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution"? Why is it that the right granted " shall not be infringed by Congress, and has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the National Government"?
Presser v Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 6 S.Ct. 580, 29 L.Ed. 615 (1886), discusses Cruikshank, but it doesn't really go beyond what was said above. Like McDonald, Presser was looking into the application of the Second Amendment to state law, but it came up with different results altogether.
Maybe because the Second Amendment right only relates to Congress' power under Article I, Section 8, Clause 16:
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;This would mean that the first three US Supreme Court cases ALL said that the right related to this power. Or as US v Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939), stated:
The Constitution as originally adopted granted to the Congress power- 'To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.' U.S.C.A.Const. art. 1, 8. With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view.The emphasised portion demonstrates that Scalia was correct when he said that Miller was not helpful to his analysis. Prior Supreme Court cases found that the right related to militia efficacy, not private arms or self-defence. Scalia was correct, the case law and precedents of the Court as stated in Cruikshank, Presser, and Miller totally contradict the Heller and McDonald decisions.
The Militia which the States were expected to maintain and train is set in contrast with Troops which they were forbidden to keep without the consent of Congress. The sentiment of the time strongly disfavored standing armies; the common view was that adequate defense of country and laws could be secured through the Militia- civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.
By the way, Justice William O. Douglas, who was on the Supreme Court at the time Miller was decided, glossed Miller in his dissent to Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S 143, 150 -51 (1972).
McDonald was an absurdity which I am amazed four justices could tolerate, but it probably came about because the sentiments of the time are to rip the Second Amendment from the constitutional framework of providing for the common defence.
The US Constitution is silent on the topic of self-defence. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius.
Anyway, one of the many failings of the gun control side in the Heller debate was its failure to rely on stare decisis since SCOTUS's case law was on board and most of the primary sources support the "civic right" interpretation. Now, we are stuck with two bad legal decisions from a high court to cause mischief. Fortunately, Heller-McDonald was limited, but there is more than enough case law to show "well-regulated" means under strict control (including USC art I,sec. 8, clause 14).