Know Your Rights: What Your State’s Constitution Says About Guns

women with gunsEditor’s Note: 44 states have a “right to keep and bear arms” provision. Do you live in a state who’s legislature doesn’t fully respect your right to own a gun?

Alabama

That the great, general and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and established, we declare…. That every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state. (Ala. Const. art. I, § 26) (1819).

Alaska

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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. (Alaska Const. art. I, § 19) (1994; previous version 1959).

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. (Ariz. Const. art. II, § 26) (1912).

Arkansas

The citizens of this State shall have the right to keep and bear arms for their common defense. (Ark. Const. art. II, § 5) (1868; previous versions 1864, 1861, 1836).

California

No “right to keep and bear arms” provision.

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. (Colo. Const. art. II, § 13) (1876).

Connecticut

Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state. (Conn. Const. art. I, § 15) (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. (Del. Const. art. I, § 20) (1987).

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. (Fla. Const. art. I, § 8, [a]) (1990; previous versions 1968, 1885, 1868, 1838). (Note that subsection (b) imposes a mandatory period of three days, excluding weekends and legal holidays, between the purchase and delivery at retail of any handgun. Holders of a concealed weapon permit as prescribed in Florida law are exempted.)

Georgia

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but the General Assembly shall have the power to prescribe the manner in which arms may be borne. (Ga. Const. art. I, § 1, para. VIII) (1982; previous versions 1877, 1868, 1865).

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. (Haw. Const. art. I, § 17) (1978).

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 passage of legislation providing penalties for the possession of firearms by a convicted felon, nor prevent the passage of 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. (Idaho Const. art. I, § 11) (1978; previous version 1889).

Illinois

Subject only to the police power, the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. (Ill. Const. art. I, § 22) (1970).

Indiana

The people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State. (Ind. Const. art. I, § 32) (1851; previous version, 1816).

Iowa

No “right to keep and bear arms” provision.

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. (Kan. Const. Bill of Rights, § 4) (2010; previous version 1861).

Kentucky

All men are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned: … [t]he 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. (Ky. Const. § 1) (1891; previous versions 1850, 1799).

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. (La. Const. art. I, § 11) (enacted 2012; previous versions 1974, 1879).

Maine

Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned. (Me. Const. art. I, § 16) (1987; previous version 1819).

Maryland

No “right to keep and bear arms” provision.

Massachusetts

The people have a right to keep and 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. (Mass. Const. pt. I, art. XVII) (1780).

Michigan

Every person has a right to keep or bear arms for the defense of himself and the state. (Mich. Const. art. I, § 6) (1963; previous versions 1850, 1835).

Minnesota

No “right to keep and bear arms” provision.

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. (Miss. Const. art. III, § 12) (1890; previous versions 1868, 1817).

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. (Mo. Const. art. I, § 23) (1945; previous versions 1875, 1865, 1820).

This article continues at nraila.org

 

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