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L. Neil Smith's
Number 626, July 3, 2011

"All-day Field Fascist-Fest"

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

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Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

The strong tradition of citizen militias, maintained by the various governments of the several States, that the Founding Fathers staunchly backed suffered a crippling blow with the passage of the Militia Act of 1903. Backed by President Theodore Roosevelt, former colonel of the Rough Riders who rose to fame during the Spanish-American War, the act bestowed federal status upon the militia of every state in order to force them to conform to Regular Army standards. Roosevelt and many of his supporters in Congress, who had been disappointed with the performance of the militia forces called up to serve during the Spanish-American War, wanted to craft the state troops into a rapid response force that were capable of implementing their imperialistic foreign policy plans (essentially what the modern National Guard has become). These provisions set the stage for many state militia companies and regiments to be sent to help quell the rebellion in the Philippine Islands, newly annexed from Spain. The resistance wouldn't be fully crushed until 1913.

While these intrusive federal oversights essentially laid the groundwork for state military forces, which under Article I Section 8 of the Constitution can only be federally activated to "execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions", to become enforcers of the American Empire there was still a silver lining. The Act created a distinction between the "organized" militia (the National Guard) and the "unorganized" militia (which is constituted of every able bodied man and woman capable of bearing arms between 18 and 45 years of age). As the last line of defense in the event of an invasion or other emergency members of the unorganized militia were to have readily available access to firearms. So while greatly diminished, a form of the citizen militia component still existed.

Things went downhill quickly from there. With the massive mobilization of National Guard/Reserve components in both World Wars and the subsequent Cold War growth of the military, the federal government began to craft ways to once and for all eradicate the concept of the citizen militia and the rights protected under the Second Amendment. The passage of President Lyndon Johnson's Gun Control Act in 1968 placed age and licensing restrictions on potential firearm owners. It created the Federal Firearms License system which, in addition to state and local laws, placed restrictive mandates on citizens who wish to buy or sell firearms. In addition, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, created during the administration of "conservative" President Richard Nixon, mandates that certain rifles, pistols, and ammunition types must be deemed suitable for "sporting or hunting" purposes only.

These laws coupled with the increasing militarization of local and state police forces as well as the continuing growth of the military have lead many citizens to believe that the rights of gun ownership enshrined in the Second Amendment are outdated and antiquated. They think that "with so many policemen and soldiers present, why would I need a gun to protect myself?" Thanks in no small part to a steady diet of government propaganda these same citizens believe that any of their neighbors who wish to own a gun to protect themselves and their families from calamities of all sorts (including an increasingly Orwellian style police state) are nuts, kooks, conspiracy theorists and tin foil hat wearers. They are encouraged to "say something" and report to the local authorities if these potential "militia extremists" show signs of "troubling" behavior, such as target shooting at the local gun club or simply criticizing the policies of the federal government.

As was discussed in Part I of this article, the Founding Fathers were greatly concerned about the liberty-killing combination of apathy amongst citizens in protecting their liberties and the unflinching trust they put in their elected officials to "do the right thing". As the Department of Homeland Security report released in 2009 (which labeled Christians, gun rights advocates, constitutionalists, pro-lifers and returning veterans amongst others as potential terrorist hazards) showed, government will deem anyone that they view as a detriment to their power as an "dangerous extremist." This "extremist" strain, which in turn is deemed a threat to the "common good" and national security, is to be snuffed out by any means necessary.

When government crosses the threshold of their enumerated, delegated powers and threatens the natural rights of life, liberty and property of its citizens it is the duty of the people to execute their right "keep and bear arms" and form a militia that will deter overly aggressive government and keep it within its constitutional boundaries. As George Washington said, firearms are "the people's liberty teeth". If the citizens of these United States wish to preserve their liberties, they would do well to take good care of said "teeth".

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