Let’s compare the Second Amendment to the First. People often do this, and it’s actually very instructive. I’m not going to get into the actual language of each Amendment (let’s leave that to the lawyers), but rather about the principles they embody.
The First Amendment tells us we have freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly (among others).
The Second gives us the right to bear arms.
Notice, though, that the First Amendment is not absolute. We have freedom of speech, yes, but we have still decided — as a society — that certain kinds of speech are illegal. For example, libel/slander are actionable. Speech, right? But illegal and punishable. Perjury, too. If you really think you have absolute freedom of speech in this country, try lying under oath. Go ahead and publish, sell, purchase, or download some child pornography and see what the District Attorney says when you invoke your First Amendment rights.
For that matter, if you think you have absolute freedom of assembly, trying sending some money to al-Qaeda. And watch what happens.
So… If it’s OK to abridge our First Amendment rights for the betterment of society (and this point isn’t up for argument — we already have!), then why on earth wouldn’t it be OK to do the same with our Second Amendment rights?
Look, I hang out with some pretty liberal folks. And with rare exception, I’ve never heard anyone advocate eliminating guns from our society. There’s usually some wishful thinking of, “It would be so nice if…” But everyone seems to acknowledge the impossibility of doing this. So, gun enthusiasts, no one is out to take away all your guns.
Just like the penalties of perjury aren’t designed to take away your freedom of speech.
“Gun control” is designed — like the rare exceptions to speech — to protect society at large from those who would misuse an established right. Banning high-capacity ammo magazines and semi-automatic weapons doesn’t stop a hunter from using rifles or shotguns. It doesn’t stop you from buying a handgun for home protection, if you feel that’s necessary.
Is the ACLU out there trying to get Congress to pass legislation that would make perjury legal? Or slander? Or donating money to terrorists?
No. The ACLU — certainly as close as we have to an absolutist organization vis-a-vis free speech — understands that society must, of necessity, curtail speech in specific, constrained instances in order to function.
Why do people not understand that this applies to the Second Amendment as well?
Yes, you have the right to bear arms. Plenty of arms. Lots and lots and lots of arms.
Just not all of them.