“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
There’s a lot of bad information being thrown about regarding what this all means. Some of it is simple ignorance. Some of it is deliberately designed to maliciously manipulate. Some of it is a mix of the two. I’ve even heard people use the text of the amendment to suggest that it only applies to a government-controlled military force. Allow me to throw in my $0.03 to clear up a few things.
Well regulated — The original meaning of “well regulated” at the time the Bill of Rights was written was “being in proper working order.” It has nothing to at all do with government control, which is a modern connotation.
Militia — Per U.S. law, specifically 10 U.S. Code § 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.
What this means is that—removing gender bias and factoring in modern medical advancements that allow for viable, healthier lives into older age—pretty much everyone is a member of the the unorganized militia. Note that the National Guard is specifically mentioned as being separate.
The unorganized milita would be called up in times of need, and they brought their own equipment… weaponry that both needed to work properly and that they knew how to use (see “well regulated” above).
The right of the people — Like all rights outlined in the Bill of Rights (which is actually a list of limitations on the federal government, not a list of things that We, The People, are “allowed” to do), the 2nd amendment applies to the People or the States. Not to the federal government.
Shall not be infringed — Per Merriam-Webster: “to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another.”
Perhaps a more modern reading of the amendment could be:
The right of the people—most of whom are members (like it or not) of the unorganized militia—to own and carry firearms shall not be encroached… because… you know… having a well-functioning militia is important for security and emergencies and shit.
For those who actually believe the 2nd amendment only applies to muskets… well… I hope you limit the exercise of your 1st amendment rights to handwritten letters on parchment and the printing press.
Do with this information as you please.