During the latest round of gun violence, my attention pivoted towards practical ways to reduce gun violence in America. The very wording of the Second Amendment lies at the heart of this issue: 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. Until the Heller decision in 2008, the Supreme Court viewed gun ownership as a collective right–that is, a right that can be framed by governments to suit specific needs, like promoting the existence of local militias or constabulary forces. It focused on the first clause of the amendment. Heller, however, determined that the Second Amendment guarantees individual rights to gun ownership. It drew attention to the declarative section of the amendment.
My attempt to find a middle path between these two kinds of interpretation involves a marriage between regulation and ownership. I know farmers with wild boar problems who make legitimate use of AR-15s with suppressors. I also know that weapons like these do more damage to human flesh than anything the framers of the Constitution could have imagined. Rather than taking all such weapons from the hands of their owners, it seems reasonable to require education and licensure as a stipulation for purchasing in addition to background checks.
Earning a license to bear a weapon does not infringe ownership any more than requiring a license to drive a car does. For weapons, I can envision a system where some weapons require more training than others. Enforcement would require officials of the state to ask those who handle weapons to show their licenses, just as they do for traffic stops. Legal precedent can be found for this. Although Heller created a precedent for virtually unrestricted gun ownership, it does allow for states to use background checks.