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Militia Q&A

Copyright (c) 1994 Constitution Society. Permission is granted to
copy with attribution for noncommercial purposes.

Q: What is the Militia?

A: It was best defined by George Mason, one of the Framers of the
U.S. Constitution, who said, "Who are the Militia? They consist
now of the whole people, except for a few public officers."

Q: If they're the whole people, why do we need a special word
like "militia" to refer to them?

A: The Militia is the people in a certain capacity, as defenders of
the community and enforcers of the law. In that capacity, they are
expected to have and use the tools needed to perform that role:
personal weapons, and particularly firearms.

Q: Isn't that what we have the military and police for?

A: Yes, we do hire some of us to perform these duties on a full-
time, paid basis. But that does not relieve us of the power or the
duty to perform those duties when the situation calls for it.

Q: Power? Don't the military and police have powers ordinary
civilians don't have?

A: Yes, the police have special powers to enforce certain
regulations, like traffic regulations, that civilians don't have. And
the military can engage in combat operations on foreign soil
representing the United States. But all citizens have general powers
to repel invasions, suppress insurrections, and enforce the laws, the
three duties of the Militia, just like the military and police. They
just don't do it on a full-time, paid basis.

Q: Come on. If I tried to go out and enforce some law,
wouldn't I be subject to arrest for something? Like
impersonating an officer, or maybe obstructing justice?

A: Not if you only tried to enforce the laws that civilians have the
power to enforce, which are laws against felonies and more serious
misdemeanors, and didn't misrepresent yourself as an officer, who
outranks most civilians, and who therefore is authorized to issue
orders to civilians in situations where he is present and is himself
acting in accordance with law. As for obstructing justice, anyone,
including a law enforcement officer, can do that. Everyone
involved is expected to cooperate with one another in enforcing the
law and not jeopardize one another's legitimate efforts. That applies
to everybody, officers and civilians alike. When there is
disagreement about how best to do that, the dispute is ordinarily
resolved by deferring to the officer with the highest rank, but he
may be out of line. Ultimately, it is up to the courts to decide who
is obstructing whom.

Q: So don't federal law enforcement officials outrank state
officials, who outrank local?

A: No, each can investigate and apprehend under all the same laws,
just as any citizen can.  The problem arises with the attempts by
the federal government to extend its authority to act against "crimes"
that it does not have the constitutional power to prosecute, and to
try such cases in federal courts. The Constitution delegates only
very limited criminal prosecution powers to the federal government
for acts committed on State territory: treason, counterfeiting, and
crimes on the high seas and against the laws of nations (that is,
war crimes).  It has broad legislative authority on federal territory,
which includes State land ceded to the federal government by a State
Legislature, but there is very little of that left since Hawaii and
Alaska joined the Union. It does not include land that is merely
owned by the federal government, nor does it include land on
which some activity is conducted that is regulated by the federal
government. The federal criminal laws which have been enacted
which are not on the above list are ostensibly based on the
constitutional power of the federal government to "regulate"
interstate commerce, but it was never the intent of the Framers that
the power to regulate was the power to prosecute criminally, nor
was "interstate commerce" intended to include everything that ever
crossed a state border, or might cross a state border, or is done by
a party that operates across a state border, or that might "affect"
interstate commerce. This "interpretation" of the interstate
commerce clause is clearly unconstitutional, and amounts to
amending the Constitution by statute instead of by the amendment
procedure the Constitution prescribes.

Q: That may be the way things  once were, back when this
country was founded and during the frontier era, but does the
concept of the Militia have any relevance for today?

A: As much as it ever did. This country still faces threats from
foreign enemies. Maybe not invasions on the ground from a foreign
army, but terrorists, guerrillas, and criminal gangs, either foreign
or domestic, are a growing threat. Urban riots are always possible,
and looters are a potential threat following natural or manmade
disasters. The police can't be everywhere, and rising crime means
that everyone must be prepared to act on his own or in cooperation
with other citizens to enforce the laws until the professionals can
assume control of the situation. Everyone must also be prepared to
perform emergency services until emergency professionals can take
over, sometimes under circumstances in which they must also be
prepared to use armed force.

Q: Come on! I'm not trained or equipped to act as a
policeman, a fireman, or a paramedic. How can I be expected
to do that?

A: Because you are an American citizen, and it goes with being a
citizen, whether you like it or not. What you need to do is get
trained and get equipped.

Q: Come on! It takes those guys years to learn those skills.
Wouldn't I just be doing more harm than good if I tried to get

A: No one is expecting you to jump into a raging river to save
someone from drowning if you don't know how to swim, but what
you should do is learn swimming and lifesaving. Likewise, you can
learn other skills that may be needed, and keep some of the tools
you might need. For a reasonable investment of time and money,
most citizens can prepare themselves to function effectively in most
such situations, sometimes even better than the professionals. For
example, statistics show that in shootouts against criminals, law
enforcement professionals are five times more likely to hit innocent
bystanders than armed civilians are. Part of this may be due to the
civilians being on the scene first, and therefore knowing who the
bad guys are and are not, but it also indicates that civilians are
more careful, and often more skilled. Many civilians are also
skilled in the unarmed martial arts, skills that many law
enforcement departments actually forbid their members from
learning and using, fearing lawsuits.

Q: Are you really saying we should all carry guns all the time?

A: Most of the time, yes. It's not that difficult. After a while, you
barely notice it.

Q: Wouldn't there be a lot more deaths and injuries from
firearms if everyone carried them all the time?

A: Well, we don't say everyone should always carry one.
Obviously, some people shouldn't. But they are exceptional. Most
people will carry them safely and responsibly, with a little training.
Of course there will be some additional incidents if most people
carry most of the time. Professional police and military have
accidents and incidents, but we don't disarm them, because on
balance we are better off if they carry most of the time. Same with
most other civilians. On balance most of us will be better off if
most people carry most of the time, after receiving  training, and
with regular practice. In a large population of people, there will
always be a certain number of injuries resulting from the possession
and use of any common implement. But firearms, with proper use,
are remarkably safe. Statistics show that injuries are more likely to
be caused by common appliances like toasters and vacuum cleaners
than by firearms.

Q: You are talking about handguns, but what about military-
style semiautomatic rifles, such as those banned under the
recent Crime Act? Are they really good for anything but killing

A: In a sense, all functional firearms are for causing potentially
deadly injury to their targets, but their primary purpose is to
provide a credible deterrent against criminal attack. In a tactical
situation in which both parties are armed with semi-automatic or
full-automatic weapons, such weapons shift the balance in favor of
the defender, and partially offset the advantage of surprise enjoyed
by the attacker. It is not practical to carry them everywhere, but in
many situations, like defense of a fixed position, such as one's
home or workplace, they can provide the margin of survival.
  It should also be pointed out that military-style rifles, whether
semi- or full-automatic, are the primary weapons for use in
performing militia duties, and therefore bans against such weapons
are in violation of the provisions of the U.S. Constitution, such as
Art. I, Section 8, and the Second Amendment, which provide for
the Militia and recognize the right to keep and bear arms.

Q: What does the U.S. Constitution say about Militias?

A: Art. I, Section 8, provides that the U.S. Congress can adopt
regulations for organizing and training of the Militia, but that the
organizing and training of the Militia, and the appointment of its
officers, shall be done by the States. The Second Amendment
mentions the Militia as an important reason why the people have
a right to keep and bear arms.

Q: So, what do federal laws say about how the states should
organize and train their Militias?

A: Not much. They define who may be required to respond to a
call-up of the Militia by the President. In  10 USC 311, what we
might call the obligatory militia is defined as "all able-bodied males
at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 13 of
title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or have made a declaration
of intention to become, citizens of the United States." But they
don't say anything about how the States should organize and train
their Militias. The States are left to do so on their own.

Q: So, what do State constitutions and laws say about
organizing and training their Militias?

A: Again, not much. They define what most of them call the
reserve militia, usually  as "able-bodied males" of age ranges that
vary from one state to the next, typically as 16 through 59. Some
of them also provide for a State Guard, which is a full- or part-time
organization which is what the Framers of the Constitution called
a select militia. Not the full Militia.

Q: What about the National Guard? Aren't they the Militia?

A: A part of it, yes, as we all are. But although they are available
to the State for certain purposes, they are organized and funded
under the constitutional authority to raise armies, not the authority
to call up the Militia. As such, they are part of the federal military,
not what the Framers meant by the term Militia.

Q: Wait a minute. You first defined the Militia as the entire
population, except for a few officials. Now we have these laws
that define it as "able-bodied males" within a certain age
range. Which is right?

A: Although everyone is in principle subject to being called to
Militia duty, it has long been felt that few situations are likely to
arise in which absolutely everyone would need to be called up.
Therefore, the law tries to identify a subset of the entire Militia that
may be required to keep arms and to be kept in a state of readiness.
In the event of an actual call-up, these would also be joined by
volunteers who, while not falling within the definition of who may
be required to be thus prepared and to respond to a call-up, would
respond anyway and who would be an asset. We call the first group
of those who may be required to stay ready and to assemble the
obligatory militia. We call the volunteers the voluntary militia. The
combination of the obligatory militia and the voluntary militia is
the ready militia. That is what the Framers of the Constitution had
in mind when they used the term Militia. They envisioned a militia
system like that of Switzerland.

Q: Well, if neither federal or state laws call for the organizing
and training of the ready militia, does that mean they are

A: No. A few state laws prohibit armed groups, but the legislative
history of such laws shows that they were directed at criminal
gangs , not at the organizing and training of the Militia by local
leaders or officials. Any such laws would be unconstitutional if
interpreted in that way.

Q: So, who has the authority to call up the Militia?

A: Anyone can call up the Militia. Anyone at all. Historically, the
call-ups have usually been issued by local officials, such as sheriffs
or mayors, but in the absence of action by such officials, the people
can assemble on their own initiative, called up by anyone who
offers a credible reason to assemble.

Q: Wow! You mean I could call up the Militia in my area?

A: That's right. Indeed, if you are aware of some situation that
requires the Militia to be called up, then you are obliged to issue
a call-up if you can't get some official to do so.

Q: Wouldn't it cause some alarm to a lot of people if we did

A: It might. That is why it is a good idea not to wait until an
emergency occurs before you do it. The Militia should be kept in
a state of readiness between emergencies. That way people will not
see the call-up as something unusual and alarming.

Q: Aren't there laws against alarming people that could be
used against any unofficial assemblies like that?

A: Longstanding constitutional precedent is that one has to actually
direct arms against an innocent person and specifically threaten him
for it to qualify as "alarming the public". And the person has to be
innocent. If one has reasonable grounds to believe that he has or is
about to commit a crime, then an armed threat may be appropriate.

Q: Wouldn't such armed assemblies of the Militia, or at least
such part of it as responds to the call-up, be vigilantes if they
tried to do that?

A: No, vigilantism is the improper assumption of the role of judge,
jury, and executioner, not the role of investigator or apprehender.

Q: What about the rights of the accused? Where do they come
in here?

A: The Militia is obliged to treat the accused the same way the
police are expected to treat them. That means informing them they
have a right to remain silent and to be represented by an attorney.
They must use no more force than is necessary to  prevent them
from either escaping or committing a crime.

Q: All this is fine in theory, but when was the last time the
Militia was actually called up officially?

A: The President last called up the Militia on the West Coast in

Q: What about unofficially?

A: Depends on what you would consider a call-up, but a notable
example occurred in Athens, Tennessee, in 1946, when a group of
returning veterans discovered that the sheriff was stealing the local
election. They issued a call-up, and laid siege to the court house.
Despite a great deal of gunfire on both sides, no one was injured.
The sheriff surrendered, and the Militia provided for an honest
count of the votes. Dealing with vote fraud is a proper Militia role.

Q: Was that really necessary? Couldn't they or others in a
similar situation use peaceful, legal methods to enforce voting

A: Not necessarily. There may be no one to enforce the law except
the Militia. The crime may be a conspiracy of local, state, and
federal officials who can effectively block any official enforcement
action. There is evidence that most computerized elections are
subject to being rigged at any time, and that they are rigged with
some regularity, at the direction of parties on the national level that
control official law enforcement agencies at all levels. Of course,
the rigging is very subtle. It can be done right under the noses of
pollwatchers. Investigating such rigging is a somewhat involved
operation, but it can be done, and should be before resorting to
Militia action. The same situation may occur with other kinds of
official corruption or abuse. The Militia may be the only honest
law enforcement activity remaining.

Q: Are you saying that the main purpose for reviving the
Militia tradition is to fight official abuse and corruption? Have
things really come to that?

A: Sadly, yes. Most people are blissfully unaware of how bad
things have become, or prefer not to see it or think about it. But it
is approaching the point where more and more of them will be
unable to sustain their state of ignorance or denial. It would be
better to act now before things get much worse. The longer we
wait, the more likely that there will be violent conflict, and we
really don't need another civil war.

Q: Can you provide evidence of any of this?

A: There is plenty of evidence. It is readily available for those who
want to make a little effort to find it. The sponsors of this
document can direct you to much of it. After you read some of it,
and talk to government insiders who are providing information to
patriotic citizens about what is going on, you will readily
understand why it is now time to activate the Militia across the

Q: My god! This sounds like you are proposing to overthrow
the government. What do you hope to accomplish by doing

A: There is reason to believe that the U.S. Constitution has already
been effectively overthrown by a conspiracy centered in the
intelligence and military establishments, with ties to the financial,
industrial, media, and criminal establishments. We seek to restore
constitutional governance, hopefully by balancing the power of this
cabal with armed militia units in every state and linked together
across the country. That, and exposing their operations to public
view, will hopefully bring reform without the need to resort to
violence, just as it happened in the former Soviet Union.

Q: The Constitution already overthrown? C'mon. Who's going
to believe that? Maybe there is more and more corruption and
abuse, but everything seems normal, for the most part.

A: Yes, the conspiracy is secret and subtle. It tries to avoid abusing
too many people or people who are too prominent, but just try to
expose it or raise these issues, and you will soon discover that you
live in a police state and not in a constitutional republic.

Q: Maybe it is better to just not try to expose it or raise these
issues, but keep a low profile and hope this conspiracy will
overlook me?

A: Well, leaving aside the fact that to do so is to betray what
generations of Americans have fought and died for, and that such
a position is dishonorable and cowardly, we have evidence that
whoever you are, a low profile won't help you. Sooner or later,
you will have to face it. Better now than later. Now we can prevail.
Later it may be too late.

Q: Look, it's not just me. I have a family to think about.
Maybe I should just join this conspiracy you talk about?

A: Join a conspiracy that depends on secrecy to survive? You don't
join them. They recruit you. If they don't, there's no way in. And
no protection for you even if you do join them. They are not noted
for protecting their own people. Deals with them are Faustian
bargains, long on promises and short on delivery. That is one
reason we are getting more and more defectors, despite the personal
dangers. You have to ask what kind of country and world you want
your children and grandchildren to live in.

Q: It all seems so incredible. What could these people want that
would cause them to overthrow the Constitution? What more
could they get that they don't already have?

A: They may be driven by fears of losing what they have, or they
may foresee some crisis they feel will require them to have more
power than they already have. What did the Nazis want? Or
the Italian fascists? Or the Japanese in WWII? Or Stalin? To us
these fascists, for that is what they are, collectively, seem irrational.
But they were not strong on reason or wisdom. The allies may have
won WWII and the Cold War, but fascism is alive and well and
running Western countries, including our own.


  Morgan Norval, ed., The Militia in 20th Century America: A
Symposium, 1985, available from Gun Owners Foundation, 5881
Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041.
  Stephen P. Halbrook, That Every Man Be Armed, 1984, available
from the Independent Institute, 134 98th Ave, Oakland, CA 94603.
  James M. & Kenneth F. Collier, Votescam: The Stealing of
America, 1992, available from Victoria House Press, 67 Wall St
#2411, New York, NY 10005.

For more information contact:
Constitution Society

6900 San Pedro #147-230, San Antonio, TX 78216, 210/224-2868

PO Box 1339, Muscatine, IA 52761, 319/264-2511

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