“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.”
First application: the rights of militia members
As with all the first ten constitutional amendments collectively referred to as “The Bill of Rights”, the 2nd amendment was formulated with the protection of the rights of our citizenry against an overly-intrusive government in mind, in particular, those citizens who were members of “a well-regulated militia”, who were “necessary to the security of a free state”. The amendment clarifies our military personnel’s right to be provided with sufficient arms (muskets), and with sufficient armor, when placed in harm’s way in service to protecting the state. Thus, it is a violation of our military personnel’s constitutional rights to be treated as “cannon fodder”, that is, to be placed in harm’s way without sufficient armaments, and/or without sufficient protection from enemy armaments.
Thus, for example, the Bush/Cheney administration’s neglect of our military personnel in Iraq for whom insufficient armor was provided, may be argued to have violated these service people’s constitutionally protected rights.
Second application: protection of civilian rule
As there existed no standing army at the time of the amendment's writing—indeed, the idea of a standing army was viewed as a threat to civil control of the state—the militias bore the brunt of maintaining state security. Therefore, militia members--and only militia members--were to be provided with arms (muskets) in order secure and maintain the state’s independence from those who would seek to threaten or overthrow civil society, be they from inside or outside the state.
Since the establishment of a standing army, private citizens' ownership of guns has not been a constitutionally protected right.
For the maintenance of public safety, all firearms not under federal military control should be collected through a mandatory government-run buy-back program. Non-participants in this program should have their firearms confiscated and should face criminal charges.