The words "well regulated militia" appear in the preamble to the second amendment. Some believe that this preamble somehow waters down the right to keep and bear arms. "Well regulated" means "trained". "militia" means all men of fighting age. Hence, any male who is trained in the use of firearms is part of the well regulated militia, and is entitled to keep and bear arms. Nowadays we tend to include women as well, so the only requirement to keep and bear arms is to be well trained in their use.

Saige: You tell us to look up "regulate." While I'm not going to bother going deeply into the fact that modern dictionaries even have definitions of "regulate" that define the word as "to adjust so as to make operate accurately." By this definition, one could say that "well regulated" means "well tuned."

However, one cannot determine the intention of the words in the Constitution by looking at a modern dictionary; one must look at how the word was used at the time the Constitution was written. Thus, if one looks at instances of the word around the end of the 18th century, as in the Oxford English Dictionary, one can see that the word does in fact, have a rough meaning of "well tuned."

Your statement about the militia is even less correct. Prior to the establishment of the National Guard, the Militia Act, passed on May 8, 1792, had been in force, requiring "each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective states" between age 18 and 45 to be enrolled in the local militia, and to "provide himself" with arms as specified by Congress (originally an eighteen gauge firelock or musket). Thus, less than six months after the Bill of Rights became effective, the militia was defined thus, by the same people who wrote the Second Amendment. Today, even with the National Guard, a modern definition, the kind you seem to like, that is more authoritative than the dictionary, militia is defined thus:

10 U.S.C. § 311
Militia: composition and classes

  (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

  (b) The classes of the militia are -
    (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
    (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

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