The Meaning of “Well Regulated” in the 2nd Amendment

Those opposed to gun rights often argue that the phrase “well regulated” means that the drafters of the 2nd Amendment intended to allow the government to institute gun control.  Nothing could be further from the truth, as a review of the phrase “well regulated” shows:

From the Constitution Society:

The following are taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, and bracket in time the writing of the 2nd amendment:

1709: “If a liberal Education has formed in us well-regulated Appetites and worthy Inclinations.”

1714: “The practice of all well-regulated courts of justice in the world.”

1812: “The equation of time … is the adjustment of the difference of time as shown by a well-regulated clock and a true sun dial.”

1848: “A remissness for which I am sure every well-regulated person will blame the Mayor.”

1862: “It appeared to her well-regulated mind, like a clandestine proceeding.”

1894: “The newspaper, a never wanting adjunct to every well-regulated American embryo city.”

As we can see from those examples, “well regulated” was a commonly-used phrase that meant “properly functioning” or “well equipped.”

But, we don’t need to argue the meaning as the Supreme Court in D.C. v. Heller has already settled the issue, correctly disposing of the anti-gun interpretation.