The Supreme Court has in Heller held the Second Amendment provides to individuals the Federal right to possess guns for personal defense and now in McDonald that states (and local governments) cannot deny that right by banning personal possession of guns. The Court has therefore completely turned against a long-held Liberal and Left doctrine that the Second Amendment applies only to organized state civil militias and that, therefore, individuals do not have a right of personal possession of guns. Why do Liberals and the Left oppose this individual right?
I think the ultimate reason is revealed in the coincidence that the more enthusiasm the Liberal or Left wing has for authoritarian central government, the less sympathy it has for personal gun possession. Personal gun possession has two significances, symbolic and actual. Gun possession represents, as symbol, the supremacy of the free, self-reliant individual. The individual reserves to her/himself the ultimate responsibility of self-defense in civil society and civil defense in civil conflict. As a real instrument, the gun gives the individual the ability to offer armed resistance to wrongful civil authority. Confronting wrongful civil authority was, of course, the origin of the Second Amendment, in the pre-Revolutionary order that Bostonians turn over their guns to the British authorities. Symbol and fact have both featured prominently in Liberal and Left fantasies about all elements of American society. What Liberal or Left fantasy about, for instance, rural America does not situate gun possession in some cracked deviancy? Think of Obama's remark, when raising funds in the campaign in San Francisco, about alienated rural Americans clinging to their guns and religion. For Obama, typical of the Left, the gun is associated with deviancy. For conservatives, contrarily, the gun represents, as in the cowboy mythology, the moral authority of the individal. The gun is only as good as the individual conscience behind it.
The gun is therefore symbol and fact of freedom and freedom's opposition to authoritarianism--the authoritarianism that to some degree Liberals and Left want for America. Like Obama, they look to Europe, where individual, private gun possession is not a right, as the model for us. In Europe, the central state has long kept guns out of private hands, while walking long distances into the world of authoritarianism, in which the central government organizes and imposes social order independently of the wishes of the people. It is opposition to such an arrangement that the gun represents.