Most discussions of the right to bear arms-however superficial-begin by noting the specific language of the second amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides:
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 in various similar provisions, the constitutions of thirty-five states guarantee expressly the right to bear arms. Though it is submitted below that there may be significant distinctions between the protection afforded by the federal and state constitutions, for our purposes here we are concerned primarily with the origin of a written constitutional guarantee for a right to bear arms; it thus seems sufficient to note generally that the state "guarantees" were for the most part adopted after, and modeled upon, the federal constitution. On its face the constitutional language ties the "right to keep and bear arms" to the need for an organized militia. Much of the controversy over the nature of the right stems directly from that juxtaposition of clauses - - i.e., is there any individual right to keep and bear arms for purposes other than collective security through a well-organized militia? From the polar answers to this question derive the sundry viewpoints that hunting, target-shooting, personal self defense, or pure rugged-individualism, do or do not enjoy constitutional protection.
Ralph J. Rohner, The Right to Bear Arms: A Phenomenon of Constitutional History, 16 CATH. U. L. REV. 53 (1966).