The Right to Bear Arms Under the Connecticut Constitution
Article 1, Section 15 – In a nutshell, what is it?
G
uns rights and gun laws are a very hot topic these days. Most of the focus has been on the language of the Second Amendment to the Federal Constitutional, which states as follows:

“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 precise meaning of that sentence has been much debated, and I suspect will continue to be debated for years. But people forget that Connecticut too has a State constitution that contains a provision providing for the right to bear arms. The language of Article 1, Section 15, of the Connecticut Constitution is much clearer and direct than its Federal counterpart. It states as follows:

“Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.”

There can be little debate that, given the language of Connecticut’s Constitution, its citizens have a right to bear arms for personal defense and in defense of the State. But, does that mean the right is unfettered? Of course not, ALL constitutional rights are subject to reasonable restrictions. For instance, freedom of speech does not mean you can yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater and cause panic. Similarly, the freedom of assembly does not mean a group of people can assemble for the purpose of rioting.

Without explaining all the legal tests and rules that lawyers and judges like to employ to analyze laws that affect Constitutional rights, it should suffice to say for this “nutshell” explanation, that laws can be made that affect a constitutional right as long as they do not effectively thwart the core Constitutional right protected. That means, for instance, a law cannot be made that effectively prevents a Connecticut resident from bearing arms in self-defense.

As many people know, Connecticut has enacted laws that impact or affect the people’s right to bear arms. For instance, they have banned assault weapons, required the obtaining of a permit to carry, established certain waiting periods when buying firearms, and limited the number of rounds that a pistol magazine may accept, just to name a few examples. You can be sure there will more as time goes by.