Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms
each man against his own bosom? Congress shall have no power to disarm the militia.
Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an
American ... The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or
state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the People."
-- Tench Coxe, 1788.
"And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from
time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take
arms...the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood
of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
-- Thomas Jefferson
“I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians.” – George Mason, co-author of the 2nd Amendment.
“A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves.” – Richard Henry Lee.
“And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the Press, or the rights of Conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.” – Samuel Adams
“Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?” – Patrick Henry.
“The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.” – Alexander Hamilton.
“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” – Thomas Jefferson.
“To disarm the people is the most effectual way to enslave them.” – George Mason.
“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe.” – Noah Webster.
“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed, unlike the people of other countries, whose leaders are afraid to trust them with arms.” – James Madison.
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin.
“A free people ought to be armed.” – George Washington.
“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” – Thomas Jefferson.
“The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.” – George Washington.
Or if you would rather, take a look at the actual legal definition of the militia as set forth in the United States Code:
Section 311 of US Code Title 10, entitled, "Militia: composition and classes" in its entirety:
"(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."