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L. Neil Smith's
Number 625, June 26, 2011

"What can possibly be worse than a politician?"

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Taking Aim At The Revisionist Definition Of The Militia, Part I
by Conor MacCormack

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Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

"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."

With the possible exception of the religious clauses found in the 1st Amendment, the above words quoted from the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution have been the most horribly manipulated by collectivists of all stripes: nanny state Democrats who believe that all EVIL FIREARMS keep us overgrown children from playing nice and loving one another, fascistic Republicans who in their quest to expand the police state only want guns in the hands of the "right" people, and idealistic peaceniks or pacifists that find people who execute their God-given, natural right to self-defense "offensive" to their tender little sensibilities. It is more often than not these same folks who wail about their individual rights being trampled upon but under the mantra of the "greater good" are quick to rob others of theirs.

It is these same groups who have used the tragic shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as justification in renewing their efforts at gun control, which is the politically correct term for victim disarmament (all of this in spite of the fact that one of the brave citizens who subdued the crazed gunman had a concealed carry pistol on his person). They shriek and moan about how antiquated the Second Amendment is and maintain that when the Founders used the term militia it was only pertaining to the army and police. Meanwhile, the rest of us who actually possess both the competence and confidence to properly maintain and use firearms are labeled as "wacko militia members", "gun nuts", and members of the "weirdo survivalist Montana" crowd.

There is nothing that the State and its cronies fear more than a firearm in the hands of physically and mentally able men, women and children. Learning how to use and maintain a firearm takes diligence, discipline, self-reliance, responsibility, and ultimately courage if and when the time comes to pull the trigger. Hopefully these traits will carry over into other areas of a person's life. That's why the mouth breathing minions of the State absolutely wet themselves at the thought of a self-assured and armed populace: more independent minded and responsible people means less power for them, in the form of such tax payer funded "services" like the DMV, DPW, EPA, ATF, OSHA, DHS, Social Security, and a host of other unconstitutional alphabet agencies.

That is why the State and its underlings have gone to such pains to redefine what a militia is and to make sure that through this redefinition that they, in the form of the army and the police, have a monopoly on force to maintain their power. However, a quick look back at our history will show that the Founding Fathers clearly understood that it is We the People who make up the militia "necessary for the security of a free state".

As early as 1635, when the Massachusetts Bay colony formed its colonial militia, and right up to the start of the Revolution it was expected in a majority of the American colonies that every able bodied man should have his own personal firearm and take part in militia duty. However, exceptions were made for conscientious objectors such as Quakers and men who were attending college. It was this well established tradition of service that prepared the Minutemen, the majority of whom were simple farmers and merchants, to courageously take on the seasoned British regulars at Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill.

While General George Washington and his Continental Army, the closest thing to a Regular Army at the time, were responsible for many of the Revolution's most decisive victories it was the large number of citizen soldiers that served as the backbone in America's fight for independence.

Due to their own experiences with the tyrannical central government of the Crown and the aid of an armed population in winning independence the Founding Fathers fought to enshrine the natural right of the people to keep and bear arms. In the Congressional debates leading to the drafting of the Bill of Rights, James Madison convincingly argued that an armed militia consisting of the total population would be a invaluable check on any army raised by a tyrannical federal government:

"To these (soldiers of a federal army) would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops... The governments of Europe are afraid to trust the people with arms. If they did, the people would surely shake off the yoke of tyranny, as America did. Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors." (Emphasis added.)

George Washington, who had seen firsthand the acts of bravery and courage performed by citizen militia, said: "A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."

Samuel Adams agreed. He voiced his support for the people's natural and constitutional right to bear arms: "The said constitution shall never be construed to authorize congress to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms."

Perhaps the best definition of who exactly constitutes the "militia" comes from Tench Coxe, a contemporary of the Founders who served as a delegate to both the Continental Congress and the Annapolis Convention, the forerunner to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia:

"The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American ...the unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.

The militia, who are in fact the effective part of the people at large, will render many troops quite unnecessary. They will form a powerful check upon the regular troops, and will generally be sufficient to over-awe them.

Whereas civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as military forces, which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms." (Emphasis added.)

This was the widely held and acknowledged view of the militia in the United States right up until the turn of the 20th century, when in 1903 Congress passed the Militia Act. In part two, we'll take a look at the provisions of that damnable Act and how it unfortunately redefined the proper role of the citizen militia.


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