Professor Andrew Trees, Roosevelt University
Virginia Declaration of Rights
Section 13. 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; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and be governed by, the civil power.
Although there is no mention of the right to bear arms, the language about a well regulated militia (also used by Madison) in section thirteen makes it a clear precursor to the Second Amendment. Mason also warns against standing armies, a standard fear expressed by colonials at the time. And this section places the military under civilian control (as the Constitution also does). For a fuller discussion of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, see the introductory material.