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5 J. on Firearms & Pub. Pol'y 153 (1993)
The Right to Keep and Bear Arms in State Bills of Rights and Judicial Interpretation

handle is hein.journals/jfpp5 and id is 151 raw text is: THE RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS
by Robert Dowlut
Robert Dowlut is presently Deputy General Coun-
sel for the National Rifle Association. Mr. Dowlut, a
member of the District of Columbia bar, received his
J.D. from Howard University School of Law.
Mr. Dowlut is an army veteran. His military duties
included service as a paratrooper with the 82nd Air-
borne Division and, while doing his undergraduate
work, with the 12th Special Forces.
Guarantees of individual liberties under federalism have
two components: the Federal Constitution and state constitu-
tions. Reliance should first be placed on a state's bill of rights,
or declaration of rights, because the United States Supreme
Court has explicitly acknowledged each state's sovereign
right to adopt in its own Constitution individual liberties more
expansive than those conferred by the Federal Constitution.'
The constitutions of forty-three states guarantee a right to
The textual content of most state bills of rights provides
greater protection of the right to arms than does the Second
Amendment. Presently only five states track the language of
the Second Amendment3 and only three are linked exclu-
sively to the common defense.4 Reliance on state bills of
rights also avoids the necessity of convincing a court that the
Second Amendment applies to the states directly or through
the Fourteenth Amendment.5
Of the seven states that do not have an explicit constitu-
tional guarantee to arms, three guarantee a right to self-
defense6 and one considers the right to life an inherent right.7
The natural right to defend one's life is usually not effectively
exercised with bare hands. In addition, neither the state nor the

State BMll of Rights


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