"Known as the "Father of American Scholarship and Education," (Noah) Webster defined all the words in the Second Amendment. He published "A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language" in 1806 and "An American Dictionary of the English Language," published in 1828 and adopted by Congress as the American standard.
"People" were "the commonality, as distinct from men of rank," and "right" was "just claim; immunity; privilege." "All men have a right to secure enjoyment of life, personal safety, liberty and property," he wrote.
"Thus in the language of Webster's time, "the people" meant individuals and individuals have "rights."
Trust me, it gets even better. Here's a taste:
"During most of our history, an exhaustive analysis of the Second Amendment would never have been necessary. The meaning of each word would have been obvious to citizens of the time.
"It was only in the late 20th century that an Orwellian view of the Second Amendment gained currency. Within this distorted language prism, "the people" would come to mean the states or state-conscripted militia; "right" would mean governmental power; "keep" would no longer entail custody for security or preservation; "bear" would not mean carry; "arms" would not include ordinary handguns and rifles, and "infringe" would not include prohibition."
Very nice research, Mr. Halbrook. Kudos!