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State Declarations of Rights relating to Arms

Delaware

    Declaration of Rights, 1776

    SECT. 18. That a well regulated militia is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free government.

    SECT. 19. That standing armies are dangerous to liberty, and ought not to be raised or kept up without the consent of the Legislature.

    SECT. 20. That in all cases and at all times the military ought to be under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.

Georgia

    Constitution, 1777

    XXXV. Every county in this State that has, or hereafter may have, two hundred and fifty men, and upwards, liable to bear arms, shall be formed into a battalion; and when they become too numerous for one battalion, they shall be formed into more, by bill of the legislature; and those counties that have a less number than two hundred and fifty, shall be formed into independent companies.

Massachusetts

    Constitution, 1780

    [Part 1, Article] XVII. 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.

New Hampshire

    Constitution, 1783

    Part 1, Article XIII. No person who is conscientiously scrupulous about the lawfulness of bearing arms, shall be compelled thereto, provided he will pay an equivalent.

New York

    Constitution, 1777

    XL. AND WHEREAS it is of the utmost Importance to the Safety of every State, that it should always be in a Condition of Defence; and it is the Duty of every Man who enjoys the Protection of Society, to be prepared and willing to defend it: This Convention therefore, in the Name and by the Authority of the good People of this State, doth ORDAIN, DETERMINE, AND DECLARE, That the Militia of the State, at all Times hereafter, as well In Peace as in War, shall be armed and disciplined, and in Readiness for Service. That all such of the Inhabitants of this State, being of the People called Quakers, as from Scruples of Conscience may be averse to the bearing of Arms, be therefrom excused by the Legislature; and do pay to the State such Sums of Money in Lieu of their personal Service, as the same may, in the judgment of the Legislature, be worth: And that a proper Magazine of warlike Stores, proportionate to the Number of Inhabitants, be for ever hereafter at the Expence of this State, and by the Acts of the Legislature, established, maintained, and continued in every County of this State.

North Carolina

    Declaration of Rights, 1776

    Sect. XVII. That the People have a Right to bear Arms for the Defense 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.

Pennsylvania

    Constitution, 1776

    CHAPTER 1.
    A DECLARATION of the RIGHTS of the Inhabitants of the State of Pennsylvania

    VIII. That every member of society hath a right to be protected in the enjoyment of life, liberty and property, and therefore is bound to contribute his proportion towards the expence of that protection, and yield his personal service when necessary, or an equivalent thereto: But no part of a man's property can be justly taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent, or that of his legal representatives: Nor can any man who is conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms, be justly compelled thereto, if he will pay such equivalent; nor are the people bound by any laws, but such as they have in like manner assented to, for their common good.

    XIII. 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.

    Constitution, 1790

    ARTICLE IX.

    SECT. XXI. That the right of citizens to bear arms, in defence of themselves and the state, shall not be questioned.

Vermont

    Constitution, 1777

    CHAPTER 1.

    15 THAT that [sic] 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.

Virginia

    Declaration of Rights, 1777

    XIII. THAT a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defence 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.

Source: Neil H. Cogin, ed., The Complete Bill of Rights, Oxford Unversity Press, New York, 1997

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