(If you've ever wondered how my law school writing differs from my blog, this post is a fair mix of the two. Ok, my capitalization is usually at least somewhat more consistent in my formal writing.)
McDonald v. City of Chicago background
(Oh, and "incorporation" means taking something that the constitution says the federal government can't do and making so the states can't do it either. At this point, just about every right in the bill or rights has been incorporated--except the right to bear arms.)
The general idea here is that the Privileges and Immunities clause of the 14th Amendment was intended to include all of the rights of being an American, and one of those rights per the bill of rights is the right to bear arms. I'm not an originalist by nature-- and Due Process incorporation is a method that is far more consistent with precedent given that the court has for decades used the Due Process clause to do what the Privileges and Immunities clause was probably designed to do. That said, the Due Process method doesn't actually make as much sense, so I tend to favor a privileges and immunities clause interpretation that will effectively incorporate the right to bear arms. I tend to think both methods allow for it.
Academics widely agree that the Slaughterhouse cases, which gutted the privileges and immunities clause in the first place, were poorly decided. Further, the vague nature of some of the Due Process clause's language actually makes it a pretty poor choice for handing out rights.* Putting aside my reticence about supplanting 100 years of jurisprudence with a single case, I want to note that reviving the privileges and immunities clause allows for applications of it that a liberal court might find quite palatable, such as the right to education or even the right to health care. If we're going to muck with precedent, there's no sense in not going at it whole hog, after all.
Though I tend to agree with the argument that the original intention of the right to bear arms was militias and thus some restrictions on gun ownership are appropriate, the idea that the states are allowed to experiment on, effectively, just one of the Bill of Rights while pretty much every other one has been incorporated at this point seems inappropriate to me no matter how many scary stories of gun violence are trotted out.** I would no more vote for restrictions on free speech to be a matter for the states.
*What is 'arbitrary' is often decided, well, arbitrarily, and the word “liberty” was twisted in two entirely different directions in Roe v. Wade.
**I would favor removing the right to bear arms from the constitution entirely before I would favor not extending an existing constitutional restriction to state law . I don't favor either at the moment.