Monday, April 14, 2008

Revitalizing the Militia of the Several States - the Spirit of 1775

OK, now it is time to get back to some serious topics. Below is an excerpt from a most excellent and thought provoking article on the Militia by Dr. Edwin Vieira, who is a graduate of Harvard Law School, among other things. I urge you to read it in its entirety and to give it the serious contemplation it deserves. I then urge you to not just think, but to act, and to do your part, and take your place, in revitalizing the militia of the several states, which, as Dr. Vieira reminds us, is "necessary to the security of a free state." I have been thinking about this vital topic for years now, and am very pleased to see I am not alone. I will share some of my thoughts on this subject over the next couple of days, but for now, please read this:

19 APRIL 1775 vs. THE D.C. GUN CASE

By Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Ph.D., J.D.
April 14, 2008

From what I have heard, the oral argument in the Supreme Court on the District of Columbia gun case suggested that a majority of the Justices just might discover an “individual right” “to keep and bear Arms” in the Second Amendment, and on that basis might declare the District’s draconian “gun-control” laws to some degree unconstitutional. Such a decision might lead to further victories against “gun-control” statutes and ordinances in other jurisdictions. Yet it might prove instead to be a Trojan Horse, because it could come down larded with so much judicial mumbo jumbo about “reasonable regulation” and “compelling governmental interests” as grounds for “gun control” that the Second Amendment would be left guaranteeing less of a “right” than of an occasion for endless legislation and litigation. Well, one can only hope for the best—but at the same time one ought to prepare for something less.

My concern is what happens if the Justices somehow do rule favorably on the “individual-right theory.” I suspect that such a victory—after the champagne runs out—will have the perverse result of putting all the pro-Second Amendment people and organizations to sleep. With their personal “gun rights” apparently secure (at least for the time being), they will not be worried about how correctly to construe the Amendment, and how really to enforce it, even though this country needs that construction and enforcement now more than ever before.

The inescapable fact is that whatever “individual right” “to keep and bear Arms” emerges from the D.C. gun case will not provide “the security of a free State” at which the Second Amendment aims. True, tens and tens of millions of Americans possess firearms and ammunition; and perhaps large numbers of these firearms are suitable for Militia service. But the armed individual, simply as an individual, is not enough.

All too many individual gun owners are not even aware of each other. Although some are members of firearms ranges or gun clubs, hardly any if them are organized for anything akin to Militia purposes. They are not members of specific units. They have no designated leaders. They lack systems for communications within or among units, or among individuals for that matter. (Where, for example, is the gun-owners’ equivalent of a “Neighborhood Watch” against local usurpation and tyranny?) Even within their own neighborhoods, among families and friends, they make no attempts to insure uniformity or completeness of equipment. They lack sufficient, and often necessary, education and training. They have prepared no plans to deal with various contingencies, let alone have assigned tasks to be carried out in anticipated emergencies. More crucially, they do not understand their constitutional status, purpose, and especially authority. Many, if not most, of them have no idea what they would be defending with their “individual rights” “to keep and bear Arms”—other than, perhaps, simply maintaining possession of their own firearms for purposes of possible self-defense. So, absent direct attacks on their own persons, how many gun owners today, anywhere, no matter how serious the crisis confronting the rest of society around them, would exercise their “individual rights”? Or could effectively do so? And to what end?

Oh, common Americans may be individually insulted, even outraged, by “the insolence of office” that increasingly characterizes rogue public officials at every level of government today. They may rightly resent, even intensely, the contempt with which such obnoxious officialdom treats them. They may correctly see their and their families’ present financial positions and future economic security being destroyed by the debt-currency schemes, speculative bubbles, and bailouts engineered by the Federal Reserve System and its clients among the low life of high finance. They may be subject to endless harassment by the tax Gestapo or the mentally jack-booted thugs in other governmental agencies. They may even have been the bloodied victims of para-military police brutality. But so what? Now what? They do not know what to do, or how to do it—or perhaps why.

Even if some of these isolated and ignorant individuals could somehow come together here and there in the midst of a crisis that sufficiently rocks society’s foundations to wake and shake them up, they would constitute only armed mobs, not even “militia” in the generic sense, and certainly not “Militia” in the specifically constitutional sense. Moreover, the very few who are already organized, and who do train, as “private militia” lack constitutional authority—and often, if not usually, envision themselves as outside of and antagonistic to “the government” (rather than as the ultimate embodiment of “government”). If these few individuals stood up with their “individual rights” against the trained and ruthless enforcers deployed against them by a police state, they would be branded outlaws or “terrorists”, demonized by the big media, deserted by their fellow citizens, and quickly picked off and packed off to morgues or detention centers.

Such a scenario, of course, is the exact opposite of the true Militia model, and of actual Militia experience in American history. When thousands of Militiamen appeared outside of Boston, Massachusetts, on 19 April 1775, were they acting solely in pursuance of an “individual right”? Did “the embattled farmers” fight only as individuals? Were they just a lawless mob? Was their victory at the Battle of Lexington and Concord the lucky result of martial anarchy? Of course not.

Very few “civilians” (in the purest sense of that term) were involved on that fateful day. Most of the men who mustered were members of Militia companies that had been training assiduously for some time theretofore. (And the ones who were not, because they were too old to be required to serve, but who fought anyway, had been members of the Militia when young.) Had not that been the case, the Militia would never have been able to assemble so many men, on such short notice, from beyond Concord all along the road back to Boston.

Neither did “the embattled farmers” fight merely as individuals. They may have employed the tactics of irregulars—neither maneuvering in parade-ground formations nor presenting a concentrated target to their enemies—but they always operated in set units, typically Militia companies, which averaged about 50 men apiece when at full complement. The Militiamen’s success was based upon organization—being called out in a systematic fashion by riders, bells, or the firing of shots; equipment—being adequately armed and accoutred; training—knowing what to do, under their designated officers; morale—being psychologically ready and confident; and especially authority—knowing that they had the legal right, power, and duty to take action, because British General Thomas Gage, and the Ministerial Government behind him, were the usurpers and law-breakers.

Read the rest here


Flick said...

I would like to take issue with some of what Dr. Vieira states. Dr. Vieira wrote:
“Moreover, the very few who are already organized, and who do train, as ‘private militia’ lack constitutional authority—…”

I am one of those to which Dr. Vieira is referring; I am in the Virginia militia. We are not a state-sanctioned body. The states have an obligation to maintain militias, but they neglect to do so. Dr. Vieira only seems to sanction a state-regulated militia, but if the states refuse to maintain a militia, what are we the people to do?

Fortunately, there are two classes of militia—the state-regulated, or organized or select militia, and the unorganized militia, which comprises everyone not in the organized militia except a handful of elected officials. The Second Amendment refers not to a state-regulated militia, but a well regulated militia. Under art. 1 sec. 8, one of the responsibilities of the militia is to execute the laws of the union. If the states refuse to maintain militias, it is up to we the people to do so.

In the few years leading up to April 19, 1775, the militias in the colonies saw the handwriting on the wall and took steps necessary to ensure that they were prepared to defend liberty. They ousted any militia leaders who were loyalists (i.e., representatives of the state). They threw off of the “state-regulated” and trained and equipped themselves because the state was becoming tyrannous.

If Dr. Vieira is going to wait around until the states are convinced to call up militias in the interest of individual liberty, he is waiting for something that will not happen. Even if some states were to call up militias, the state’s purpose would be to defend the state’s interests first and foremost rather than the people’s interests. Will Dr. Vieira continue his vigil after America becomes a full fledged police state? Will he keep pleading with state officials from inside a FEMA camp or prison cell?

I spoke with Dr. Vieira by phone a few years ago and tried to get him to take a look at the National Militia Standards (NMS). From what I can tell from his writings since then, he has not bothered to look at them. The NMS has enabled different militia units from different states to train to common standards, which has led to multi-state training exercises. The NMS have also enabled militias to police our own ranks, expelling the wannabes, the pretenders, the blowhards, the self-appointed generals, and those with agendas other than defending individual liberties. Racism is not tolerated; like any workplace, racists are allowed their views, but they may not wax racist while in uniform or with the unit.

Dr. Vieira wrote:
“If these few individuals stood up with their ‘individual rights’ against the trained and ruthless enforcers deployed against them by a police state, they would be branded outlaws or ‘terrorists’, demonized by the big media, deserted by their fellow citizens, and quickly picked off and packed off to morgues or detention centers.”

Dr. Vieira seems to think we are unaware of this. And yet, being fully aware of this, we form militias and train anyway. I’ll let Mark Twain and Sam Adams respond to Dr. Vieira.

“In times of change, the patriot is a scarce man; brave, hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.” –Mark Twain

“If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.” –Sam Adams

The problem we have today is that most gun owners think that the opening phrase of the Second Amendment really says, “Owning guns and writing letters to your representatives being sufficient to the security of a free state,…” With the Heller vs. DC case a hot topic these days, there is much discussion about that opening phrase about militia.

We all know that with the right to free speech comes the responsibility not to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. That with rights come responsibilities is accepted by people across the political spectrum. So what is the responsibility that comes with the right to keep and bear arms? It’s in the opening phrase of the Second Amendment—a well regulated militia. Just owning guns and going to the range is not sufficient. The militia is what’s necessary. And Dr. Vieira wants gun owners to warm their sofa cushions until the state agrees to relinquish its ill-gotten powers to the people.

For those who wish to take seriously the responsibility that comes with the right to keep and bear arms, I invite you to check out today’s militia at If you give us a fair shake, you’ll discover, as I did eight years ago, that people in the militia are just as normal, just as goofy, just as fun, just as serious, just as foolish, just as intelligent as any other group of people.


Flick said...

I have yet another bone to pick with Dr. Vieira. He wrote:
"...that situation lies within We the People’s ability to correct right now. And everyone reading this commentary knows it to be true. ... if you are not yet ready to help in revitalizing 'the Militia of the several States' in your own locality through peaceful, constitutional means while time still remains on your side..."

That's nice, but of absolutely zero help. He does a good job of describing the problem and says that the militia is the solution, but he offers nothing to the reader by way of practical steps to be taken to revitalize the militia.

Take some NRA courses? The NRA has helped write much of the anti-Second Amendment legislation we are burdened with today. It's the NRA that wants its supporters to believe that owning guns and writing letters is sufficient to the security of a free state.

The Appleseed shoots? Good idea, but unless those shooters have trained with like-minded others, his skills will land him in jail or in the grave for having gained him and his country nothing.

Some of we the people are already doing some of the more practical things Dr. Vieira suggests, such as buying equipment and training, but we don't meet with Dr. Vieira's approval because no state has sanctioned us.

Hello? Natural rights exist irrespective of governments. If the government won't do its duty of safeguarding those rights, it is up to we the people to safeguard those rights.

I don't know what time Dr. Vieira thinks we have in this country, but the poop has already hit the fan. The "line in the sand" has long since been crossed.

The reason we don't have the necessary numbers to make domestic tyrants think twice, as he says, is because people like him, Devvy Kidd, Lew Rockwell, and others won't support the unorganized militia. It's time for them to get off the fence if they're serious about preserving liberty and this country.