After the Civil War, in which a lot of the "militia" went off and fought with the rebels, and some other problems. Congress passed the Militia Act of 1903. This established the National Guard to replace the militia concept and instead of personal arms, the government then furnished them. Prior to this, all men (ok, be honest, there was some prejudices running around back then, so some may have been "exempted") were required to have personal arms so they could be called up. Most households had guns.
After the requirement to own a personal gun, a possible side affect of this act was that crime, specifically murder (I assume other violent crimes also, but I admit I cannot at this time prove it) shot up to tremendous levels. Since this act was passed, our murder rate has not gotten any where near as low (admittedly the rate then was probably higher as prejudices caused some murders not to get into the statistics). I said possible side affect simply because it cannot be definitively proven, other than comparing rates before and rates after. I also do not know of any other major social change at the time that might account for this affect.
While this might lead one to believe returning to mandatory ownership might be a solution to the problem of violent crime, it should be noted that our society today is drastically different than that prior to 1903. I still believe it is a much better solution than the abolishment of guns in America, a desired prospect for some but, at this point, unachievable. It would, in my opinion, cause some immediate upheaval, but after a few years it would settle down and while we might not see 1902s murder/violent crime rates, they would, with in 5 years or less reach lower levels than we have seen since adoption of the Militia Act of 1903. And we can still keep the Guard and Reserves to counter act faults in the militia system.
And no, I don't believe it is pathetic to cling to the second amendment, it still acts a check upon the government acquiring too much power.