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State Constitutional Right to Bear Arms


state constitutional right to bear arms
44 US states include the right to bear arms in the state constitutions, some for self-defense and the defense of the state. The oldest of the provisions date to 1776 in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia (though all three have since been revised, the right remains in place). Nebraska was the last state to add a right to bear arms to its constitution in 1988 when the government edited an existing article.

The other 6 states' constitutions do not include the right to bear arms: California, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York.
State Text of Constitutional Provision Date Location in Constitution
1. Alabama "That every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and state." 1901 Art. I, § 26
"That every citizen has a right to bear arms in defence of himself and state." 1819 Art. I, § 23
2. Alaska "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. The individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be denied or infringed by the State or a political subdivision of the State." 1994 Art. I, § 19
"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." 1959 Art. I, § 19
3. Arizona "The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the State shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain, or employ an armed body of men" 1912 Art. II, § 26
4. Arkansas "The citizens of this State shall have the right to keep and bear arms for their common defense." 1868 Art. II, § 5
(Art. I, § 5 when enacted)
"That the free white men of this State shall have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defence." 1836 Art. II, § 21
5. California No constitutional provision to bear arms n/a n/a
6. Colorado "The right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called in question; but nothing herein contained shall be construed to justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons." 1876 Art. II, § 13
7. Connecticut "Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state." 1818
Art. I, § 15
(Art. I, § 17 when enacted)
8. Delaware "A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use." 1987 Art. I, § 20
9. Florida "The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law." 1968 Art. I, § 8
"The right of the people to bear arms in defence of themselves and the lawful authority of the State, shall not be infringed, but the Legislature may prescribe the manner in which they may be borne." 1885 Art. I, § 20
"The people shall have the right to bear arms in defence of themselves and of the lawful authority of the State." 1868 Art. I, § 22
"That the free white men of this State shall have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defence." 1838 Art. I, § 21
10. Georgia "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but the General Assembly shall have power to prescribe the manner in which arms may be borne." 1877 Art. I, § 1, ¶ VIII
(Art. I, § XXII when enacted)
"A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free people, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but the general assembly shall have power to prescribe by law the manner in which arms may be borne." 1868 Art. I, § 14
"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." 1865 Art. I, § 4
11. Hawaii "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." 1959 Art. I, § 17
12. Idaho "The people have the right to keep and bear arms, which right shall not be abridged; but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to govern the carrying of weapons concealed on the person nor prevent passage of legislation providing minimum sentences for crimes committed while in possession of a firearm, nor prevent the passage of legislation providing penalties for the possession of firearms by a convicted felon, nor prevent the passage of any legislation punishing the use of a firearm. No law shall impose licensure, registration or special taxation on the ownership or possession of firearms or ammunition. Nor shall any law permit the confiscation of firearms, except those actually used in the commission of a felony." 1978 Art. I, § 11
"The people have the right to bear arms for their security and defense; but the Legislature shall regulate the exercise of this right by law." 1889 Art. I, § 11
13. Illinois "Subject only to the police power, the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." 1970 Art. I, § 22
14. Indiana "The people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State." 1851 Art. I, § 32
"That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State, and that the military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power." 1816 Art. I, § 20
15. Iowa No constitutional provision to bear arms n/a n/a
16. Kansas "A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, for lawful hunting and recreational use, and for any other lawful purpose; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be tolerated, and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power." 1859 Bill of Rights § 4
(Art. I, § 4 when enacted)
17. Kentucky "All men are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned... The right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the State, subject to the power of the General Assembly to enact laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed weapons." 1891 § 1
"That the rights of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned; but the General Assembly may pass laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed arms." 1850 Art. XIII, § 25
"That the rights of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned." 1799 Art. X, § 23
"That the right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned." 1792 Art. XII, § 23
18. Louisiana "The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms is fundamental and shall not be infringed. Any restriction on this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny" 1974 Art. I, § 11
"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 abridged. This shall not prevent the passage of laws to punish those who carry weapons concealed." 1879 Art. 3
19. Maine "Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned." 1987 Art. I, § 16
"Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms for the common defence; and this right shall never be questioned." 1819 Art. I, § 16
20. Maryland No constitutional provision to bear arms n/a n/a
21. Massachusetts "The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence. And as, in time of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature; and the military power shall always be held in an exact subordination to the civil authority, and be governed by it." 1780 Pt. 1, art. 17
22. Michigan "Every person has a right to keep and bear arms for the defense of himself and the state." 1963 Art. I, § 6
"Every person has a right to bear arms for the defense of himself and the state." 1850 Art. XVIII, § 7
"Every person has a right to bear arms for the defence of himself and the State." 1835 Art. I, § 13
23. Minnesota No constitutional provision to bear arms n/a n/a
24. Mississippi "The right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but the legislature may regulate or forbid carrying concealed weapons." 1890 Art. 3, § 12
"All persons shall have a right to keep and bear arms for their defence." 1868 Art. I, § 15
"Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defence of himself and of the State." 1832 Art. I, § 23
"Every citizen has a right to bear arms, in defence of himself and the State." 1817 Art. I, § 23
25. Missouri "That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms, ammunition, and accessories typical to the normal function of such arms, in defense of his home, person, family and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned. The rights guaranteed by this section shall be unalienable. Any restriction on these rights shall be subject to strict scrutiny and the state of Missouri shall be obligated to uphold these rights and shall under no circumstances decline to protect against their infringement. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the general assembly from enacting general laws which limit the rights of convicted violent felons or those adjudicated by a court to be a danger to self or others as result of a mental disorder or mental infirmity." 2014 Art. I, § 23
"That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons." 1945 Art. I, § 23
"That the right of no citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power, when thereto legally summoned, shall be called into question; but nothing herein contained is intended to justify the practice of wearing concealed weapons." 1875 Art. II, § 17
"That the people have the right peaceably to assemble for their common good, and to apply to those vested with the powers of government for redress of grievances by petition or remonstrance; and that their right to bear arms in defence of themselves and of the lawful authority of the State cannot be questioned." 1865 Art. I, § 8
"That the people have the right peaceably to assemble for their common good, and to apply to those vested with the powers of government for redress of grievances by petition or remonstrance; and that their right to bear arms in defence of themselves and of the State cannot be questioned." 1820 Art. XIII, § 3
26. Montana "The right of any person to keep or bear arms in defense of his own home, person, and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but nothing herein contained shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons." 1889 Art. II, § 12
27, Nebraska "All persons are by nature free and independent, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights; among these are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the right to keep and bear arms for security or defense of self, family, home, and others, and for lawful common defense, hunting, recreational use, and all other lawful purposes, and such rights shall not be denied or infringed by the state or any subdivision thereof. To secure these rights, and the protection of property, governments are instituted among people, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." 1988 Art. I, § 1
28. Nevada "Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes." 1982 Art. I, § 11
29. New Hampshire "All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property and the state." 1982 Pt. 1, art. 2-a
30. New Jersey No constitutional provision to bear arms n/a n/a
31. New Mexico "No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons. No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right to keep and bear arms." 1986 Art. II, § 6
"No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons." 1971 Art. II, § 6
"The people have the right to bear arms for their security and defense, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons." 1912 Art. II, § 6
32. New York No constitutional provision to bear arms n/a n/a
33. North Carolina "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; and, as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they shall not be maintained, and the military shall be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power. Nothing herein shall justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons, or prevent the General Assembly from enacting penal statutes against that practice." 1971 Art. I, § 30
"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; and, as standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up, and the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power. Nothing herein contained shall justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons, or prevent the Legislature from enacting penal statutes against said practice." 1875 Art. I, § 24
"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; and, as standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up, and the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power." 1868 Art. I, § 24
"That the people have a right to bear arms, for the defence of the State; and, as standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power." 1776 Bill of Rights, § XVII
34. North Dakota "All individuals are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation; pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness; and to keep and bear arms for the defense of their person, family, property, and the state, and for lawful hunting, recreational, and other lawful purposes, which shall not be infringed." 1984 Art. I, § 1
35. Ohio "The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be kept up; and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power." 1851 Art. I, § 4
"That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State; and as standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, they shall not be kept up, and that the military shall be kept under strict subordination to the civil power." 1802 Art. VIII, § 20
36. Oklahoma "The right of a citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power, when thereunto legally summoned, shall never be prohibited; but nothing herein contained shall prevent the Legislature from regulating the carrying of weapons." 1907 Art. II, § 26
37. Oregon "The people shall have the right to bear arms for the defence of themselves, and the State, but the Military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power." 1857 Art. I, § 27
(Art. I, § 28 when enacted)
38. Pennsylvania "The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned." 1790 Art. I, § 21
(Art. IX, § 21 when enacted)
"That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination, to, and governed by, the civil power." 1776 Declaration of Rights, cl. XIII
39. Rhode Island "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." 1842 Art. I, § 22
40. South Carolina "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. As, in times of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they shall not be maintained without the consent of the General Assembly. The military power of the State shall always be held in subordination to the civil authority and be governed by it. No soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner nor in time of war but in the manner prescribed by law." 1895 Art. I, § 20
"The people have a right to keep and bear arms for the common defence. As, in times of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they shall not be maintained without the consent of the General Assembly. The military power of the State shall always be held in subordination to the civil authority and be governed by it. No soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner nor in time of war but in the manner prescribed by law." 1868 Art. I, § 28
41. South Dakota "The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be denied." 1889 Art. VI, § 24
42. Tennessee "That the citizens of this state have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime." 1870 Art. I, § 26
"That the free white men of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defence." 1834 Art. I, § 26
"That the freemen of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defence." 1796 Art. XI, § 26
43. Texas "Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime." 1876 Art. I, § 23
"Every person shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defence of himself or the State, under such regulations as the legislature may prescribe." 1868 Art. I, § 13
"Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in lawful defence of himself or the State." 1845 Art. I, § 13
"Every citizen shall have the right to bear arms in defence of himself and the republic. The military shall at all times and in all cases be subordinate to the civil power." 1836 Declaration of Rights, cl. 14
44. Utah "The individual right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self, family, others, property, or the state, as well as for other lawful purposes shall not be infringed; but nothing herein shall prevent the Legislature from defining the lawful use of arms." 1984 Art. I, § 6
"The people have the right to bear arms for their security and defense, but the legislature may regulate the exercise of this right by law." 1896 n/a
45. Vermont "That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State--and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power." 1777 Ch. 1, art. 15
46. Virginia "That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power." 1971 Art. I, § 13
"That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power." 1776 Art. I, § 13
47. Washington "The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men." 1889 Art. I, § 24
48. West Virginia "A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, and for lawful hunting and recreational use." 1986 Art. III, § 22
49. Wisconsin "The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose." 1998 Art. I, § 25
50. Wyoming "The right of citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the state shall not be denied." 1889 Art. I, § 24




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