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Research Article

The Right to Bear Arms in the Virginia Constitution and the Second Amendment
Historical Development and Precedent in Virginia and the Fourth Circuit



The right to keep and bear arms in Virginia is guaranteed by both the state and federal constitutions. Article I, section 13, of the Virginia Constitution provides in part: ‘‘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 . . . .’’ The first clause dates to 1776, while the second clause was not adopted until 1971. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted in 1791 and 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.’’

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Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., J.D., is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the books, Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State”, The Founders' Second Amendment and Securing Civil Rights, the latter two of which were cited in the the U.S. Supreme Court cases of District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago as well as his earlier Amici Curiae Brief in Heller on behalf of 55 members of the Senate, the Senate President, and 250 members of the House of Representatives. Dr. Halbrook is also the author of the book, That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right (Independent Institute).


New from Stephen P. Halbrook!
GUN CONTROL IN THE THIRD REICH: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State”
Presents the definitive history of how the Nazi regime used gun control to disarm and repress its enemies and consolidate power. Previous books on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust fail even to mention the laws restricting firearms ownership, which rendered Jews, political opponents, and other disfavored groups defenseless.







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