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State Constitution Articles Concerning Weapons

arms bear enacted sect

The Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution reads: "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."

Alabama: That every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state. Art. I, sect. 26 (enacted 1819, Art. I, sect. 23, with "defence" in place of "defense," spelling was changed in 1901).

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. Art. I, sect. 19 (first sentence was enacted in 1959; second sentence was added in 1994).

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. Art. II, sect. 26 (enacted in 1912).

Arkansas: The citizens of this State shall have the right to keep and bear arms for their common defense. Art. II, sect. 5 (enacted in 1868).

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. Art. II, sect. 13 (enacted in 1876).

Connecticut: Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state. Art. I, sect. 15 (enacted in 1818).

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. Art. I, sect. 20 (enacted in 1987).

Florida: (a) 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. (b) There shall be a mandatory period of three days, excluding weekends and legal holidays, between the purchase and delivery at retail of any handgun. For the purposes of this section, "purchase" means the transfer of money or other valuable consideration to the retailer, and "handgun" means a firearm capable of being carried and used by one hand, such as a pistol or revolver. Holders of a concealed weapon permit as prescribed in Florida law shall not be subject to the provisions of this paragraph. (c) The legislature shall enact legislation implementing subsection (b) of this section, effective no later than December 31, 1991, which shall provide that anyone violating the provisions of subsection (b) shall be guilty of a felony. (d) This restriction shall not apply to a trade in of another handgun. Art. I, sect. 8 (sections (b)-(d) adopted in 1990).

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. Art. I, sect. 1 (enacted in 1877).

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. Art. I, sect. 17 (enacted in 1959).

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. Art. I, sect. 11 (enacted in 1978).

Illinois: Subject only to the police power, the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Art. I, sect. 22 (enacted in 1970).

Indiana: The people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State. Art. I, sect. 32 (enacted in 1851).

Kansas: 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 tolerated, and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power. Bill of Rights, sect. 4 (enacted in 1859).

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. Bill of Rights, sect. 1 (enacted in 1891).

Louisiana: The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit the carrying of weapons concealed on the person. Art. I, sect. 11 (enacted in 1974).

Maine: Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned. Art. I, sect. 16 (enacted in 1987).

Massachusetts: The people have a right to keep and bear arms for the common defence [sic]. And as, in times 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. Pt. I, Art. 17 (enacted in 1780).

Michigan: Every person has a right to keep and bear arms for the defense of himself and the state. Art. I, sect. 6 (enacted in 1963).

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 where thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but the legislature may regulate or forbid carrying concealed weapons. Art. III, sect. 12 (enacted in 1890).

Missouri: 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. Art. 1, sect 23 (enacted in 1945).

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. Art. II, para. 12 (enacted in 1889). "Militia forces shall consist of all able-bodied citizens of the state except those excepted by law." Art. VI, para. 14 (enacted in 1889).

Nebraska: All persons are by nature free and independent and have certain inherent and inalienable rights; among those 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. Bill of Rights, Art. I, sect. 1 (right to keep and bear arms enacted in 1988).

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. Art. I, sect. 11(1) (enacted in 1982).

New Hampshire: All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property, and the state. Part I, Art. 2a (enacted in 1982).

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 use and for other lawful 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. Art. II, sect. 6 (first sentence enacted in 1971; second sentence added in 1986).

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. Art. I, sect. 30 (enacted in 1971).

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. Art. I, sect. 1 (right to keep and bear arms enacted in 1984).

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. Art. I, sect. 4 (enacted in 1851).

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. Art. II, sect. 26 (enacted in 1907).

Oregon: The people shall have the right to bear arms for the defense of themselves, and the State, but the Military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power. Art. I, sect. 27 (enacted in 1857).

Pennsylvania: The right of the citizens to bear arms in defence [sic] of themselves and the State shall not be questioned. Art. I, sect. 21 (enacted in 1790).

Rhode Island: The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Art. I, sect. 22 (enacted in 1842).

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. Art. I, sect. 20 (enacted in 1895).

South Dakota: The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be denied. Art. VI, sect. 24 (enacted in 1889).

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. Art. I, sect. 26 (enacted in 1870).

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. Art. I, sect. 23 (enacted in 1876).

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. Art. I, sect. 6 (enacted in 1984).

Vermont: That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence [sic] 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. Ch. I, Art. XVI (enacted in 1777).

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. Art. I, sect. 13 enacted in 1776; "therefore, the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" added in 1971).

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. Art. I, sect. 24 (enacted in 1889).

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. Art. III, sect. 22 (enacted in 1986).

Wisconsin: The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation, or any other lawful purpose. Art. 1, sect. 25 (enacted in 1998).

Wyoming: The right of citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the state shall not be denied. Art. I, sect. 24 (enacted in 1889).

States without Constitutional Provisions

Six states do not have constitutional provisions on the right to keep and bear arms: California, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York.

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