We constantly hear about the second half of the Second Amendment, an independent clause which guarantees us the absolute right, free from any legislative impingement, to keep and bear arms. All laws to the contrary in my opinion are unconstitutional, and may be reasonably viewed as null and void.
However the founders did have a reason for this as we read in the amendment itself.
“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.”
From what I have read upon the subject, the founders had a great fear of standing professional armies, in that such military force, employed by a tyrannical government could defraud the populace of any and all of their civil rights at will. So when we speak of the security of a free state, we speak of protection for all enemies foreign and domestic. The domestic enemies referred to are none other than our own government, should it go astray. Let’s look at the present definition of “the militia.”
10 U.S. Code § 311 – Militia: composition and classes
(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are—
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
In Article I Section 8 of Constitution of the United States the power of congress to organize the militia is described:
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
Note that the appointment of officers and the authority to train the militia is specifically reserved to the states, so this in no way can be misinterpreted to refer to a standing federal army.
Now in earlier times in our country there was no National Guard, but rather individual State Guards, as is still the case in some of states, answerable only to the Governor of that state, and accessible to the President of the United States only by the permission of the Governor, or by an act of the state legislature. It would seem to me that this would be the most beneficial system for the preservation of individual liberty, while still providing for the defense of the country as a whole. This is not to say that the National Guard should be abolished, but rather that each state have its own guard, a volunteer force, made up of every able-bodied man and woman who chose to participate. Such a guard could be organized by an overarching umbrella group of supporters, much like any other social, charitable service organization, who would be responsible for fund raising, and advisory board, event planning, and documenting standards for participation, as well as lobbying the state legislature, encouraging them to provide a line item for funding the operation of the militia. There are many groups both on the ground and on the web who use the title “militia”, but I have not often seen a frank and open admission that they are to be readily subservient to the local government, both county and state. This is a very dangerous trend, and in present times we have seen the havoc wrecked in the Middle East by groups calling themselves militias who are answerable to no one but themselves.
A suggested plan for the basic organization of the militia might be as follows.
Any group of 8 to 10 men who wish to properly arm and equip themselves could form a squad, consisting of recruits, regular militiamen, militiamen first class, and a corporal elected yearly by the squad.
Any group of 4 to 8 squads could form a platoon led by a sergeant elected yearly by the membership from among their corporals.
Any group of 4 to 6 squads could form a company led by a captain elected yearly by the membership from among their sergeants. A lieutenant might also be so elected and a sergeant major.
Groups of companies could be formed into battalions by the locally elected sheriff who would automatically attain the rank of colonel, or by individuals appointed by the elected governor of the state.
All other field grade officers would be appointed and funded by the governor. All militiamen would be expected to submit to the authority of the governor of their state. Those “militia” groups who did not do so would be considered rebels and outlaws, and subject to the civil law, and possibly to the rules of military engagement.
The umbrella organization, a corporate entity would operate as any other support group, providing a central repository of information, vendors, legal assistance, a chaplaincy, and the like. All members of the militia would automatically be members, as well as any volunteers, spouses, citizens, etc who wished to support their efforts.
In addition to securing their individual states against all forms of tyranny, the militia would be beneficial for other reasons. Their training would not have to be limited to warfare, but could also include first aid, CPR, traffic direction, hurricane and other disaster mitigation. In addition to quarterly training for war, they could employ themselves, should they so desire, for other projects to benefit the general public, youth, or the needy. They would provide, county by county an additional resource for the sheriff who could employ them in times of emergency, to search for a missing child for example, or a dangerous felon as was the case in earlier times.
That being said, I believe there is a greater benefit to be gained from a “well regulated” that is to say well trained, and well organized militia. I remember that my own military training washed from me every lingering vestige of racism and special privilege that had been impressed upon me as child. We all ate together, we all bathed together, we all trained together, we all cleaned the bathrooms and made our beds together. We became brothers, a cohesive unit that worked together and were for each other. So it could be in the state militia. While individual squads, and platoons might be made up of men and women of similar status and ethnicity, once they became part of a larger force, these differences would certainly become less important, as their participation in and commitment to the community grew. To be members of a county posse, or a state defense force would invariably foster pride and a sense of inclusion that would be of benefit to all.
It seems to me that our way of life, our basic political and economic philosophies, our identity as a nation is under attack. Surely if we are to survive we must come to some sort of agreement as to who we are, and what we want our lives and our community to be. Who better to make such decisions but our immediate neighbors and who could be better equipped and motivated to defend them than a militia made up of those who live among us?