Our gun fetish started as a means of fending off the Native Americans. Then it was revolt against the British. The infamous Second Amendment was adopted to preserve southern farmers' options for putting down potential slave revolts without having to ask for federal assistance or permission.
Last week at an American Constitution Society briefing on the Heller case, NAACP Legal Defense Fund president John Payton explained the ugly history behind the gun lobby's favorite amendment. "That the Second Amendment was the last bulwark against the tyranny of the federal government is false," he said. Instead, the "well-regulated militias" cited in the Constitution almost certainly referred to state militias that were used to suppress slave insurrections. Payton explained that the founders added the Second Amendment in part to reassure southern states, such as Virginia, that the federal government wouldn’t use its new power to disarm state militias as a backdoor way of abolishing slavery.
Recent interpretations have evolved into saying that the Second Amendment preserves the right for some kind of survivalist-type insurrection against the federal government. Yeah, sure. The founders wanted to make absolutely sure that they instituted a mechanism for the violent overthrow of their new government. It's bizarre stuff, for sure.