Jeffrey Toobin clarifies the PR campaign that transformed the 2nd Amendment:
The re-interpretation of the Second Amendment was an elaborate and brilliantly executed political operation, inside and outside of government. Ronald Reagan's election in 1980 brought a gun-rights enthusiast to the White House. At the same time, Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican, became chairman of an important subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he commissioned a report that claimed to find "clear--and long lost--proof that the second amendment to our Constitution was intended as an individual right of the American citizen to keep and carry arms in a peaceful manner, for protection of himself, his family, and his freedoms." The N.R.A. began commissioning academic studies aimed at proving the same conclusion. An outré constitutional theory, rejected even by the establishment of the Republican Party, evolved, through brute political force, into the conservative conventional wisdom.
Interesting how strict constructionists who believe in the original intentions of the constitutional framers have totally abandoned one of their core theories on this topic.
Adding... Reagan as a "gun-rights enthusiast" is debatable. It's clear from his record that he was a gun-regulator, though he might've pandered to the lobby.