has an interesting piece up at Truthout. I know little of this deep history (although a big fan of The Abotionists, with part two airing tonight on PBS), so I cannot vouch for the facts and credibility for this, but its provocative: Basically the Second Amendment that guarantees the rights to bear arms is not just all about the militia--but all about preserving slavery.
That is, the state militias in the South were really only around to keep the slaves in their place and hunt, bring back or shoot escaping ones. There was a giant battle over this when the U.S. Constitution was drafted and ratified with Southerners worried that the feds would take over or break up the state militias (perhaps even order them to help free, not hunt slaves). All the usual Founding Father suspects were engaged in this debate. So to get Southern support, principally from good old Virginia, the militia/bearing arms amendment was promoted. Like I said, I don't know if Hartmann overstates it, but give it a read.