As a strong second Amendment supporter, I would agree with your last sentence, however where does the limit fall, with the extreme being tactical nuclear weapons or 155mm Howitzers? Are citizens to be allowed these as well? I don't have an answer, and am actually asking the question. I think that "small arms" as in rifles and handguns, even machine guns should be our right to own. Should we have NO limits? That might require a level of perfection in personal responsibility humans are not capable of.
That would be up to each state, given that the states are charged with forming state Militias. If Congress prohibits 155mm howitzers, the states can appeal to the courts, saying that it infringes on their Militia.
"Are citizens to be allowed these as well?"
Again, that's up to each state. If the state wants its citizens to take certain weapons home or store some of the larger ones in an armory, that's up to each state. It is not the federal government's business.
My homeowners association would probably never let me have a howitzer unless I kept it inside my garage.
I would think that since the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right,it would also indicate that the phrase refers to weapons that could be used by an individual,rather than a crew served weapons system.
however where does the limit fall, with the extreme being tactical nuclear weapons or 155mm Howitzers?
A bullet is discriminate in that it's trajectory has an intended target that is relatively small. A nuclear weapon is indiscriminate and the target area is a billion times larger. The howitzer falls in-between. Take each of the three weapons and suppose an accident happened in a building (a person's home). If each weapon accidentally fired what is the likely damage to neighbors? The gun is almost nil. The howitzer has some potential to explode beyond the house. The nuclear weapon would take out a couple dozen city blocks.
We got along quite well with no limits, at the federal level anyway, from 1792 to 1934, actually longer since there were no "anti cannon" ordances under the Constitution before ratification of the Bill of Rights or under the Articles of Confederation before them.
People did own cannon, and ships armed with them, at the time the second amendment was written, how else could they be effective when issued a Letter of Marque by Congress (as Congress was empowered to do in the orginal body of the Constitution)?
The Cannon the British were after at Concord were not owned by the colony or the British government. The Revolutionary War started over Cannon Confiscation, or more properly attempted cannon confiscation. They did manage to spike one or two, but they were rather too hotly pursued by the local militias to try to haul them off.
So definnetly 155 Howitzers, or larger ones for that matter, are included in the term "arms", as are 16" Naval Rifles, if you can find any outside of a floating museum.
The intent of the 2nd Amendment was for defense and security, both personally and collectively as a nation. Certainly any weapon, including a knife or small pistol can be used defensively or offensively. But the point is, the bearing of arms recognized in the US Consitution was meant as defensive and specific as to who they should be used against. Those would would threaten you as an incividual or collectively as a nation.
A nuclear weapon or primarily indiscriminate type of weapon type of WMD with great likelyhood of collateral harm to innocents was not intended. An anti-tank weapon or howitzer? Yes. A nuclear weapon or other WMD ... no.
If your reasoning were to apply to the First Amendment, then free speech would not apply to TV, Radio, or the Internet. One you put ANY restrictions you are opening the possibility that the Government will use it to restrict everything. Tactical nuclear weapons would be restricted through there cost and the technology needed to maintain them, the 155mm Howitzers would be fun, but you will be financially responsible if it knocks down a house. Can you imagine the cost of insurance if you obtained a working Howitzer?
IMO, if it is an "armament" then citizens have the right to own.
Obviously the guy in the trailer next to you won't be owning or maintaining a nuke there, but if say, Perot or Gates wanted to have large weapon systems that ordinary citizens couldn't afford, so what?
Yeah you're always gonna have some idiot who can't even handle a ball bat responsibly and those should be treated as exceptions not the basis for making rules for all.
The correct answer to that oft-abused question: your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.
The RKBA exists, if you look at it a little differently, to disarm those who abuse their RKBA. Persons A and B have a right to arms, but if B threatens A, A can respond by using his to disarm B (heck, that's why A is carrying). When you get to large-scale arms, it's still the same issue - just the threat covers more people at greater distances. Howitzers can still be owned and used safely (and are indeed legal! just a little paperwork, $200 tax, and the problem of actually finding one for sale); nukes, however, require extraordinary care as it is "pointing" at everyone within a few mile range.
Ergo, you can own anything - as the Founding Fathers intended. Just be aware that should reasonable people conclude there is a viable threat, they can use _their_ arms to disarm you until the threat is reasonably extinguished.
Pre-emptive blind banning is not permitted.
Any infringement of the right represents a slippery slope. The framers were aware of this. That is why they didn't put any exceptional language about what constituted arms the people could bear.
Nuclear weapons should be verboten, not because they are weapons, but because of the inherent danger posed by the radiation. After all, you cannot legally possess a vial of radium, IIRC.
I think the answer is more to the NO LIMIT side. I would draw a very firm line at chemical and biological agents, even for governments to own or possess. Nukes are problematical for their serious storage requirements. Other than that, if you can afford it, go for it. Artillery was also privately owned back in the day... it was to armed, PRIVATE vessels that letters of Marque and Reprisal were to be issued. That meant it was surely acknowleged that naval guns (cannon and artillery) were ALSO meant to be in private hands...