USA State Constitutions Providing for Armed Self-Defense

According to the National Archives, “the USA Constitution might never have been ratified if the framers hadn’t promised to add a Bill of Rights. The first ten amendments to the Constitution gave citizens more confidence in the new government and contain many of today’s Americans’ most valued freedoms.” One of those is the Second Amendment:

“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 BILL OF RIGHTS, AMENDMENT II

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See USCCA's interactive Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map & Gun Laws By State

Source: USCCA interactive Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map & Gun Laws By State

[ Read the SemperVerus article, The 5 Elements of Self-Defense Law ]

Below is the right to keep and bear arms as expressed in each USA state’s constitution:

Alabama:  “(a) Every citizen has a fundamental right to bear arms in defense of himself or herself and the state. Any restriction on this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny. (b) No citizen shall be compelled by any international treaty or international law to take an action that prohibits, limits or otherwise interferes with his or her fundamental right to keep and bear arms in defense of himself or herself and the state, if such treaty or law, or its adoption, violates the United States Constitution.” ARTICLE 1, § 26

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 political subdivision of the State.” ARTICLE 1, § 19

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.” ARTICLE 2, § 26

Arkansas:  “The citizens of this State shall have the right to keep and bear arms, for their common defense.” ARTICLE 2, § 5

California:  “All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursing and obtaining safety, happiness and privacy.” Article 1, § 1″
CALIFORNIA HAS NO STATE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS.

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.” ARTICLE II, § 13

Connecticut:  “Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.” ARTICLE 1, § 15

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.” ARTICLE 1, § 20

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) . . . 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. The legislature of the State of Florida, in a declaration of policy incorporated in its “Weapons and Firearms” statute, recognizes that adult citizens of the state retain their constitutional right to keep and bear firearms for hunting and sporting activities and for defense of self, family, home and business and as collectibles.” ARTICLE 1, § 8

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.” ARTICLE 1, § 1, PARAGRAPH VIII

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.” ARTICLE 1, § 15

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.” ARTICLE 1, § 11

Illinois:  “Subject only to the police power, the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” ARTICLE I, § 22 OF THE ILLINOIS BILL OF RIGHTS

Indiana:  “The people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State.” ARTICLE 1, § 32

Iowa:  “All men are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights – among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.” ARTICLE 1, § 1
[Note: A constitutional amendment was passed by the House and Senate in March 2019. The text of the proposed amendment reads: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.” It would need to be passed by the Legislature again and approved by voters before it could take effect. The earliest it can be placed on the ballot is 2022.]
IOWA HAS NO STATE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS.

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.” KANSAS BILL OF RIGHTS § 4

Kentucky:  “All men are by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned: … 7) 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.” STATE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION, ARTICLE 1, § 1, PARAGRAPH 7

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.” ARTICLE 1, § 11

Maine:  “Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.” ARTICLE 1, § 16

Maryland:  “That all Government of right originates from the People, is founded in compact only, and instituted solely for the good of the whole; and they have, at all times, the inalienable right to alter, reform or abolish their Form of Government in such manner as they may deem expedient.” ARTICLE 1, § 1″
MARYLAND HAS NO CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION GRANTING A RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS.

Massachusetts:  “The people have a right to keep and bear arms for the common defense. 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.” DECLARATION OF RIGHTS, ARTICLE 17

Michigan:  “Every person has a right to keep and bear arms for the defense of himself and the state.” ARTICLE 1, § 6

Minnesota:  “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.”ARTICLE 2, § 12
MINNESOTA HAS NO STATE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS.

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.” ARTICLE 3, § 12

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.” ARTICLE 1, § 23

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.” ARTICLE 2, § 12

Nebraska:  “All persons … have certain … rights, among these are … 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.” ARTICLE 1, § 1

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.” ARTICLE 1, § 11, PARAGRAPH 1

New Hampshire:  “All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property and the state.” ARTICLE 1, § 2-A

New Jersey:  “All persons are by nature free and independent, and have certain natural and unalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and of pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.” ARTICLE 1, § 1
NEW JERSEY HAS NO STATE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS.

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.” ARTICLE II, § 6

New York:  “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms cannot be infringed.” ARTICLE 2, § 4 of the New York Civil Rights Law
NEW YORK HAS NO STATE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS.

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 should 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.” ARTICLE 1, § 30

North Dakota:  “All individuals . . . have certain inalienable rights, among which are . . . 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.” ARTICLE 1, § L

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.” ARTICLE 1, § 4

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.” ARTICLE 2, § 26

Oregon:  “The people shall have the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of themselves and the state, but the military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power.” ARTICLE 1, § 27

Pennsylvania:  “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.” ARTICLE 1, § 21

Rhode Island:  “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” ARTICLE 1, § 22

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.” ARTICLE 1, § 20

South Dakota:  “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be denied.” ARTICLE VI, § 24

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.” ARTICLE 1, § 26

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.” ARTICLE 1, § 23

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.” ARTICLE 1, § 6

Vermont:  “That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State 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.” ARTICLE 1, § 16

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.” ARTICLE 1, § 13

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.” ARTICLE 1, § 24

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.” ARTICLE 3, § 22

Wisconsin:  “The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.” ARTICLE 1, § 25

Wyoming:  “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be denied.” ARTICLE 1, § 24

[Source: USCCA’s Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map & Gun Laws By State]


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