"A Well Regulated Militia"
in the State Declarations of
Four of the states which adopted declarations of rights-- Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Hampshire--did not explicitly use the words
"a right to bear arms." However, the declarations of these states did
uphold "a well regulated militia," meaning that that body of the people
would be trained to arms to counter the real or potential oppression of
a standing army. Moreover, recognition of a right to bear arms was
manifested in these states in sources other than the declarations of rights.
In fact, the conventions of Virginia and New Hampshire insisted that a
federal bill of rights be adopted and that it recognize the right to bear
arms. The following analyzes the perceived nature of a well regulated
militia and the right to bear arms in the above four states.
The Declaration of Rights
Virginia was the first of all the colonies to adopt a bill of rights, which
became the prototype for those of other colonies. The Virginia Declaration of Rights, adopted in convention on June 12, 1776, included the
following interconnected propositions:
|A. ||That all Men are by Nature equally free and independent, and have certain
inherent Rights . . . ; namely, the Enjoyment of Life and Liberty, with the Means
of . . . pursuing and obtaining . . . Safety.|