If we’re to take the “collective right” explanation on its face, then the Second Amendment created a right that the states are powerless to execute, that the Federal government has no duty to provide, and that would be useless and oxymoronic if the latter did so anyway. If one spends five minutes thinking about the “collective right” theory, it quickly becomes apparent that the individual right is the only one that can possibly function appropriately, and is thus the only right that the amendment was ever intended to protect. To put it bluntly, the “collective right” approach makes no sense.

A Constitution is not the act of a Government, but of a people constituting a government, and a government without a constitution is a power without right.

–Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791

There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied, and which, therefore, more needs elucidation, than the current, that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.

—James Madison, letter to James Monroe, 1786

The United States is a nation of laws, not men.