So if the founders would have laughed if you talked about unorganized individuals overthrowing a tyrannical government, why *does* the 2nd Amendment exist?
The main reason the 2nd Amendment was added to the Constitution was that George Washington's disdain for state and local militia, who he called "useless", was well known and it was feared he was going to disband them. That caused a palpable shudder amongst Southerners, who like all slave societies lived in constant fear of slave rebellion and who wished to keep and bear arms in order to deal with slave revolts, and Westerners, who as with all conquerers who have not yet exterminated the native population had to deal with revolts of the native population ("Indians", they called the natives, even though the natives were more American than the "Americans"). In short, there was a fear that Federal power, dominated by the wealthy and populous New England states which had neither slaves nor a remaining population of Native Americans, was going to be used to disarm state and local militias which were needed to keep slaves and native Americans subjugated. Thus the "A well regulated militia being necessary to the safety of a free state" that starts out the 2nd Amendment -- you know, the clause that people always seem to leave out for some mysterious reason (hmmmm).
But what of this "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" thing, that's not about state and local militias, is it? Uhm... the first three words of the Constitution are "We The People". The word "People" doesn't mean one specific individual. It means the majority in a democratic society. Government in a democracy isn't some dictatorship imposed upon us. Government in a democracy is *us*, We The People, a collective "People", not individual people. Thus why the minority who don't want to pay a tax have to pay that tax in a democracy -- because the right to decide to pay a tax or not is a collective right in a democracy (i.e., a We The People right), not an individual right in a democracy.
That said, the Second Amendment's wording is vague enough that I do support an individual right to keep and bear arms for purposes of self defense against criminals, for hunting, and general fetishism (hey, some guys get it off by stroking inflatable dates, some guys get it off by stroking their guns, different strokes for different folks, right?). I support reading the Bill of Rights expansively regardless of which item of the Bill of Rights we're talking about. If we want to clarify that there is no individual right to keep and bear arms, there's a way to do that: amend the Constitution to say that. Just ignoring it is plain ridiculous.
But to say that the Founders intended individuals to be in possession of military weapons to use to overthrow the government is just plain balderdash. Even the Westerners didn't believe that weapons in their possession were useful against the U.S. Army. Thus the fizzle that the Whiskey Rebellion became once George Washington led the U.S. Army against them -- rather than fight the U.S. Army, the rebels threw down their guns and went home, leaving the ringleaders to sway in the wind.
- Badtux the Constitutional Penguin