To keep is not the same as to own.
The verb to keep is found in important legal documents, in particular in the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. The immediately relevant portion of the 2nd Amendment states: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” A quick glance at any modern dictionary reveals keep/to keep has many definitions, denotations and connotations. In a few instances, too keep can mean to own (“to keep a shop”). It is therefore possible that the 2nd Amendment is saying that citizens have the right to own arms, specifically firearms. As the meaning of the 2nd Amendment turns on the verb to keep, it is critical to understand which present-day meanings are also its origin-al meanings, origin-al defined here as those that would have been commonly used by our nation’s founders. This is paramount in order to understand what “reasonable people living at the time of its” use “would have understood the ordinary meaning of the text to be.” [Wikipedia, originalism]. Incomprehensibly, the definition used in determinations of how to interpret origin-al documents is left as some form of a lesser present-day meaning rather than a documented origin-al meaning.
One strong, objective tool to clarify the origin-al meanings of to keep is to find its definitions in dictionaries in use during the late 1700’s. Dictionaries were fairly new linguistic tools in the 1700’s, but several law-dictionaries were use during the time the Bill of Rights was being debated and adopted as the first amendments to the U.S. Constitution. A comprehensive listing of these is found in the “Dictionaries and the Law” exhibition at the Boston College Law Library in Fall 2019, curated by Laurel Davis. There are seven major law-dictionaries noted that fit the timeline necessary to have been of useful in creating the 2nd Amendment. These include (in no particular order) “A New and Complete Law-Dictionary” by Timothy Cunningham, “A New Law Dictionary” by Richard Burn and Jacob Burn, “A New Law-Dictionary” by Giles Jacob, “A Law Dictionary” by Dr. John Cowell, “Les Terms de la Ley” (in English) by John Rastell, and “The New World of Words” by Edward Phillips. The definition given for keep is essentially identical in all of these: “a strong Tower in the middle of a Castle or Fort, in which the Besieged make their last Efforts of Defence…” Thus, a keep is a particular (central), fortified, location in a castle with no specification regarding what was contained in it.
This single meaning refers to the noun, keep, and there are no references given for the verb, to keep…