Publication Date
December 14, 2021
David B. Kopel
right to keep and bear arms, Second Amendment, state constitutions
In this article, I examine each of the state constitutions that contain an arms rights guarantee. For each state, I detail how the state arms right has been interpreted and what implications about the Second Amendment may be drawn from the language of the state provision. Throughout the analysis, several key questions recur:

* When the Second Amendment was written and adopted, was the language chosen already familiar as guaranteeing and individual's right to keep and bear arms, or was the language familiar as protecting the power of states over their own militias?

* Is the phrase "bear arms" a term of art referring exclusively to bearing arms while in militia service, or is the phrase used in its more ordinary sense to encompass bearing arms for a variety of
purposes, such as personal or family defense or sporting purposes?

* When states adopted the Second Amendment verbatim in their own state constitutions, what did this particular language do?

* What is the effect when concerns about standing armies are expressed contemporaneously or even in the same sentence as arms rights language?

* What is the implication when states create explicit exceptions to the right to arms, such as excepting the concealed carrying of weapons, or excepting large assemblies of armed men, or reserving the power to create certain types of gun laws?
Recommended Citation
Kopel, David B. and Kopel, David B., What State Constitutions Teach about the Second Amendment (October 20, 2002). Northern Kentucky Law Review, Vol. 29, No. 4, 2002, Available at SSRN:

get firearms facts & research

explore our repository