Forty-four of the fifty state constitutions secure a right to keep and bear arms, and thirty-nine of them clearly secure an individual right -- either their text makes it clear, or the state courts have so held (quite plausibly, I think, since it would be strange to have the state constitution define in its bill of rights a right of the state itself, or of the state-run militia). So independently of one's thoughts about the Second Amendment, those state constitutions provide some constraint on state gun bans, though there have been hot debates in those states about just which gun controls are permissible notwithstanding the state provision and which aren't.
Interestingly, though, some of the states that lack a right to bear arms provision (California, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York), that have right to bear arms provisions that aren't clearly individual (Hawaii, South Carolina, and Virginia), or that have right to bear arms provisions that have been interpreted as not securing an individual right (Kansas, though there's a bit of ambiguity on that, and Massachusetts) are states that one think of as pro-gun-rights. Hence my question: Do readers know of any activity in Iowa or Minnesota to add a right to bear arms provision to the state constitution, in Kansas to make clear that the right is individual, or (less likely) in South Carolina and Virginia to do the same?
I recognize, of course, that precisely because those states are mostly pro-gun, many gun rights enthusiasts might not worry too much about the legislature trying to ban guns. (They may worry about lesser controls, but generally speaking state courts have interpreted state right-to-bear-arms provisions as being relatively deferential, at least where relatively modest gun controls are concerned.) Yet I'd think that it wouldn't be that expensive to get a right to bear arms added to the state constitution in those states, and that some legislators would see such proposals as both good policy and good politics. What's more, the more state constitutions clearly support an individual right to bear arms, the more likely, I think, it is that the Supreme Court will interpret the Second Amendment the same way. (One can certainly argue that recent trends in state constitutional provisions shouldn't influence the Court's interpretation; but I suspect that they nonetheless might influence the Court.)
So what can our readers tell me about this? Any move afoot in those states to secure the individual right to bear arms in the state constitution? Any chance of helping stimulate such a move?
By the way, here's a list of state right to bear arms provisions sorted by date, which shows that some of the provisions have indeed been enacted or strengthened in the last four decades. The most recent was the brand new provision in the Wisconsin Constitution, added in 1998 by a 74 percent-26 percent vote: "The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose."