When celebrating July 4th, the birthday of our nation's Declaration of Independence, we should keep in mind two very important aspects concerning the incidents at Lexington and Concord that led to the American Revolution. The first is that the British government's attempts to disarm the American colonists, even though they had not attacked the British, was considered an act of war by the colonists. They were well aware that British attempts to subjugate and enslave them would be unchecked if they were successfully disarmed. The second is that when the acts of war were perceived it wasn't Americans acting under the authority of the British Crown that opposed the British troops it was ordinary armed citizens who fought. Our nation was founded and, in fact, sprang into being on the principle of ordinary people arming and organizing themselves to fight tyranny. The Second Amendment to our Federal Constitution, part of our Bill of Rights, states: 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. The active clause in the amendment is: the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. And, A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free state is the descriptive clause. The meaning is clear and you'd think that there wouldn't be a problem understanding it, but such is not the case.
Concerning the Federal Constitution, Thomas Jefferson wrote:
On every question of construction, let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in Although Jefferson wasn't present at the convention in Philadelphia when our Federal Constitution was written and debated (he was in France), that fact is irrelevant because it is good, sound advice and should be heeded. The Second Amendment is essentially clear and straightforward and doesn't need to be "interpreted." By following Jefferson's advice the amendment's complete meaning can be understood. The whole of the Bill of Rights is a limitation of government. The Framers were very clear and consistent in who they attributed certain Rights to. "The People" always refers to individuals, not groups or governments. In fact, the first nine amendments are solely Rights guaranteed to individuals. Only the Tenth Amendment guarantees powers to State governments, and it indicates only those powers not already reserved by the "People". So, the term "The People" should not be twisted to mean collective groups such as "the military," "the police," "the National Guard," or State governments. It means that you, me, all of us - individually - have the Right to keep and bear arms... and that Right cannot be infringed. William Rawle, who was offered the position of the first U.S. Attorney General by President Washington, stated: No clause in the Constitution could by rule of construction be conceived to give the Congress the power to disarm the people. The Second Amendment guarantee seems to be the only one in which the term "The People" causes confusion. The Constitution is a contract and attempting to change what a word means after the contract is agreed to and signed is dishonest - and criminal. Sarah Brady of Hangun Control Inc. Tells us: Public opinion polls show that, although more than 60% of Americans erroneously believe that the Constitution gives them a right to be armed, only a minority of Americans believe that it should grant Regardless of the percentage her polls show, the first part of her statement is essentially correct. The Constitution doesn't give Americans the Right to be armed. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not the source of the Right to keep and bear arms, or to form the Militia. In fact, none of the provisions in the Bill of Rights establish any Rights. Rights are God-given and such Rights were considered by the Framers as obvious or
"self-evident." The Bill of Rights acknowledges the existence of Rights, such as forming the Militia and its necessity for the security of a free state, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms. These are Rights that existed prior to the formation of the Federal union. Governments are formed to protect God-given Rights, not to grant them or take them away.
In his June 9, 1999 column, entitled Repeal (Part of) The Second Amendment, William Safire discussed the issue of the individual's Right to keep and bear arms and, as Harvard professor Laurence Tribe put it, the government's "power to impose reasonable limits to protect public safety." Safire stated:
After doing a great job on the First Amendment, the amending Founders botched the Second.
Patrick Henry, in the Virginia Convention on the ratification of the Constitution, stated:
The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is
And George Washington said:
The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference- they deserve a place of honor with
But William Safire offered us the:
...way to come to grips with the abomination of too many handguns in trigger-happy hands.
According to Safire,
Here's how to fix a flawed amendment that is the source of so much confusion: Repeal its ambiguous preamble. Let some member of Congress introduce an amendment to strike the words before the comma in the Second Amendment. It takes a lot of arrogance to say something like that. Safire is claiming that the confusion surrounding the Second Amendment is its descriptive clause: " A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free state". Our nation's Founders and Framers knew what the term Militia meant and certainly a century ago most people understood what it meant. The understanding has been largely lost due to decades of neglect. That, combined with the current abundance of misleading information, is why most people now are unclear on the concept. The unnecessary confusion surrounding the Second Amendment is the ignorance concerning a very important point about the Militia. And that is, the Militia is the People. They are not exclusive terms. The Framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights acknowledged something that is just as true today as it was at the time of Lexington and Concord: the Militia, composed of the people, must retain their arms - as the final check in our system of checks and balances - to prevent tyranny in government. In our free state, We The People are the principals and government is the servant, not the other way around. An unchecked government, that We The People empower, that infringes on our God-given Rights and abuses its power is a threat to our security. As Thomas Jefferson plainly stated: The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against
And even Senator Hubert Humphrey acknowledged:
The right of citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible. The confusion concerning the Second Amendment is also because of the distortion of its meaning by the claim that Militia means the National Guard rather than individual citizens participating in a certain capacity. The National Guard is merely one of the classes of militia, not the Militia itself. In fact, our State Guards, which are no longer our State Guards but rather Federal troops, have become what the Framers termed a "select militia." The Framers feared two things: large standing armies and select militias. A select militia was an armed group that was not formed from the entire population of a jurisdiction, but selected by some method that would make them unrepresentative of the community and a threat to lawful government or to the community. A regular standing army or Federal police force is a select militia, and it may serve the will of those in power and be used against the people. The National Guard is a select militia that is equipped, trained, and paid by the federal government. It has been totally integrated into the armed forces and now serves overseas. It is completely different and distinguished from the Militia of the Second Amendment. When Sarah Brady tells us: The concept of a "well regulated Militia" is somewhat foreign to 20th century America, but it is central to the meaning of the
...she is quite accurate but she is not referring to the Militia, meaning the whole people as the Framers of the Amendment intended. Instead, she says:
Spread this to local news orgs and politicians...That the framers of the Constitution were referring to a State National Guard when they used the word "militia" and that militia was meant to be under state and not federal control...and was not
She further explains:
The "militia" was not, as some gun control opponents have claimed, simply another word for the armed citizenry. It was an organized military force, "well regulated" by the state governments. The Amendment affirms that the keeping and bearing of arms in a "well regulated Militia" of the states is a "right of the people," not dependent on the whim of the federal government. The original intent of the Second Amendment, therefore, was to prevent the federal government from passing laws that would disarm the state militia. You'll note that Mrs. Brady has added the terms "state," "state governments," and "state militias" to her explanation of the Second Amendment. The reason why we bring up Sarah Brady's claims concerning the Militia, which can all be found at bradycampaign.org (formerly known as Handgun Control Inc.), is because they are a prime example of the disinformation spread by citizen disarmament advocates, or gun-control advocates as they liked to be called, that has prevailed in shaping the public's concept of the Militia. The argument promoted is that government - the military, the police, the National Guard - are the only ones that should have, or need to have, guns. Not only did our nation's Founders and Framers warn of such a situation, (and gave us the Second Amendment guarantee to prevent it), but history in our own century has shown that this idea, when enforced, leads to mass murder of political enemies, genocide, and "ethnic cleansing." It was an idea promoted and enforced in Nazi Germany. Heinrich Himmler declared: Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA - ordinary citizens don't need guns, as their having guns Well, as Americans we don't "serve the state." We the People created the state to serve us and to protect our God-given Rights and Liberties. The whole concept of Militia, as spread by those such as Sarah Brady, is completely contrary to everything our Founders and Framers believed and wrote concerning the subject. Compare the following statements made by two of our nation's most outspoken Founders and Framers with the concept of Militia that Sarah Brady, and others like her, promote. George Mason stated: Who are the militia? They consist of the whole people, except for a few public officials.
And Tench Coxe explained:
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 right 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 the state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people. The definition of "the unorganized militia" found in Title 10 of the U.S. Code, and "the sedentary militia" as described by Title 10 of the Indiana Code, matches the Founders' and Framers' intent of the people being the Militia. In both codes the National Guard is distinguished as a separate class of militia. It is clear, from the Federalist Papers and the debates about the adoption of the Constitution, what the Founders and Framers recognized as the Militia. They discussed the meaning and purpose of the Militia frequently. If we read the whole of the Federalist Papers numbers 24 through 34 we'll find a complete argument for the Militia as a "citizens army" that is to consist of "the whole of the people," designed to allay the public fears of a despotic central government. Even a recent Congress has acknowledged who the Militia in the Second Amendment refers to. On page 11 of the Report of the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Ninety-Seventh Congress, Second Session, February 1982, it states: The militia refers to a concept of a universally armed people, not to any specifically organized unit. When the framers referred to the equivalent of our National Guard, they uniformly used the term "select militia" and distinguished this from "militia". Debates over the Constitution constantly referred to organized militia units as a threat to freedom comparable to that of a standing army and stressed that such organized units did not constitute, and indeed were philosophically opposed to, the concept of a militia. That the National Guard is not the militia referred to in the Second Amendment is even clearer today. Congress has organized the National Guard under its power to raise and support armies and not its power to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia. (House Resolution Report No. 141, Seventy-Third Congress, First Session, February 5th, 1933.) This Congress chose to do, in the interest of organizing reserve military units which were not limited in deployment by the strictures of our power over the constitutional militia, which can be called forth only "to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions". The modern National Guard was specifically intended to avoid status as the constitutional militia, a distinction recognized by 10 United States Code, Section 311, Subsection (a). Remember, America's War for Independence started over, basically, unregistered and untaxed guns. When British troops attempted to seize the arsenals of muskets, powder, and ball from the Patriot Militia in Lexington and Concord American civilians shot and killed scores of those government agents as they retreated to Boston. We remember those militiamen today as heroes rather than "domestic terrorists" and "anti-government extremists." The current trend with most politicians, law enforcement, the national media, and organizations such as The Southern Poverty Law Center, is to demonize the Citizen Militia without any real reason for doing so. It is apparent that they just don't like the concept of the Militia and the fact that the Second Amendment has come alive after lying dormant for so many years. When the Citizen Militia and gun ownership is condemned, that position is never supported with quotes from Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, or any of our nation's Founders and Framers. And that's because it can't be! During the floor debate over the Second Amendment, in 1789, Representaive Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts warned: What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty... Whenever governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins. Americans of 200 years ago felt perfectly at ease about the Militia. In the writings of our nation's Founders and Framers an ill word cannot be found written about the Militia, but today you can't find a good word written. Who, or what, changed? Instead of asking, "How can we get rid of the militia?" and "How can we get guns out of the hands of private citizens?", the real question that needs to be honestly answered is: What is going on in our nation today that would cause hundreds of Citizens Militias to form all over the country? The disinformation being promoted today by such groups as the Southern Poverty Law Center, who are considered "experts on the militia menace," is designed to cause panic at the specter of a massive threat to the American people posed by the Militia. But that's the kind of business they're in. They'd be the first to condemn Nazi stormtroops but uphold BATF and FBI stormtroops. Obviously its not the tactics that are disagreed with, but the targets. If you want to investigate what kind of supposed threat the Citizen Militia is, here are some questions that need to be asked:
* How many doors have been kicked in by a Citizen Militia?
* How many homes of innocent people have been raided in the
middle of the night by a Citizen Militia?
* How many homes and businesses have been trashed, and property
confiscated by a Citizen Militia?
* How many people have had their bank accounts seized, have been
forced into debt or have committed suicide due to a Citizen Militia?
* How many unarmed women have been shot and killed by a Citizen
* How many children have been gassed and burned to death by a
Now, ask these same questions of the BATF, FBI, US Marshals, IRS, EPA, or the host of other Federal "alphabet soup" agencies. The truthful answers to those questions go a long way toward determining who the real terrorists are and what the real threat is in this country today. The Citizen Militia is not a threat to the American people. The Citizen Militia IS the American people. Neither is it composed of anti-government extremists. Quite the opposite. It is composed of ordinary citizens who are very pro-government: pro-Constitutional government. The Constitution, that's the contract that has been agreed to. It should be apparent that some at the reigns of government, especially in the executive branch, are the real anti-government extremists. They're the ones who, three decades ago, rioted, burned buildings, advocated cop killing, took hostages, and supported a communist regime against our fighting forces. Many of those people are in government positions now and it is becoming more evident that they didn't achieve those positions by working within the "the system" they obviously loathed. They achieved those positions by subverting that system. The only "extremism" that should be attributed to citizens who participate in the Militia is that they should be extremely committed to this Republic and its Federal Constitution, they should be extremely committed to their State and its Constitution, they should be extremely jealous of everybody's Liberties -- and that has to be so. It's a part of citizenship. It's not only our duty, it is our moral obligation to defend and restore our form of government by lawful means. Individual citizens make up the Militia and it is the citizens which Freedom and the spirit of Liberty depend upon. Abraham Lincoln stated that: We, the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts - not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.
To do that, Americans have the tools that have been passed down to us from our nation's Founders and Framers. They have been referred to as "the three boxes": The Soap Box, The Ballot Box, and, as the last resort, The Cartridge Box.
The fact that our Freedom and Liberties, guaranteed by our Federal and State constitutions, are systematically being eroded and denied, and that governments are infringing on gun Rights on every front are manifestations of government's tendency to empower itself. A tendency that has historically proven to lead to genuine tyranny if left unchecked! The disarming of American citizens and the demonization of the Citizen Militia reveals the intent to transform limited government created by the people (in which the power is vested), into a government limiting the people. So, it is no wonder that the idea promoted is that the Second Amendment applies only to "organized" militias, which is the term used in the U.S. Code for the National Guard. The fallacy promoted is: the Constitution says that militias are a creature of the State, and yet while purporting to support the Constitution, Citizen Militias have appointed their own Officers and conduct their own training without authority from the State and are in violation of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. Another popular claim is that "a militia" is always subject to Federal, State, or local government control and any group calling itself "a militia" or " the militia" not under government control is illegal. That is not what the Constitution and the Second Amendment actually say and, again, is contrary to anything our nation's Founders and Framers wrote on the subject. Even the NRA (National Rifle Association), in its official statement concerning its position that an individual's right to keep and bear arms is not dependant upon membership in "a militia," uses the same misleading tactic that Sarah Brady does. Their draft states: It is the NRA's view, based on law (Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution; Title 10, U.S. Code, Section 311(a)), court precedents, and legal and historical interpretation, that all able-bodied persons, explicitly those between the ages of 17 and 45, are members of the FEDERAL unorganized militia, except members of the ORGANIZED STATE GUARDS... For reasons of their own they've added the word "Federal" to the term "unorganized militia," because they couldn't have possibly derived that idea from the sources they claim to have based their view on. Another term in the Second Amendment that most people stumble over but is used to bolster the claim that the Militia is supposed to be government controlled is: well regulated. Sarah Brady claims: The militia was "well regulated" in the sense that its members were subject to various legal requirements.
The phrase "well regulated," which was in common use long before 1789, referred to the property of something being in proper working order. Something that was well regulated was calibrated correctly and functioning as expected. So actually the Militia was to be well regulated in the sense that it was to be well trained, equipped, and disciplined. Not regulated, in the modern sense of the term, by some government bureaucracy.
Many anti-militia and anti-gun organizations promote the idea that organizations similar to the Indiana Militia Corps are "private militias" or "private armies;" that we have organized, equipped, and disciplined ourselves without any legal authority to do so, and are therefore illegitimate. The fundamental flaw of that argument is that the Indiana Militia Corps is not private. As the Militia, as our nation's Founders and Framers maintained, is to be the whole of the people, the Indiana Militia Corps, in adhering to the legal definition of "unorganized militia," is a public organization. The general public is welcome, and encouraged, to participate. One of the Goals stated in our handbook is: To open our ranks to all citizens who love Liberty without regard to nationality, race, creed, or sex. Leaders of the Indiana Militia Corps are commissioned by the 3rd Continental Congress, either directly or indirectly, not self-appointed. The Indiana Militia is no more private than a government entity. The Militia, like citizenship, is fundamentally local. The Founders and Framers considered it obvious that Rights which could be exercised separately could be exercised in combination. The legal basis for a Militia muster are two natural Rights: the Right to assemble and the Right to keep and bear arms. Combined, they are the Right to assemble bearing arms. Keep in mind that the Constitution does not limit the citizen, but rather establishes and limits the power of government. The Constitution allows the formation of a Federal Army, it specifically recognizes State militias, and confirms that the citizen and his personal arms are the foundation of the Citizen Militia, or the Militia. Under the U.S. Constitution, the State governments are free to arm their Citizen Militia if they choose to do so. Otherwise, the arming of the Militia is the responsibility of the individual citizen. Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution does provide for States to organize and train their Militia, according to standards established by the Congress, and to appoint the Officers. If the State governments fail to do so, people not only have the Right but the duty to organize and train themselves locally, supplying their own arms. But just as each citizen has a duty to defend the community he also has the duty to effectively prepare himself for that role and join with others in his community to train and to function as an organized force; regardless if the elected officials of his community facilitate that organization and training or not. If the State governments fail to arm their Citizen Militia, the right of the people to keep and bear arms becomes the source of the guarantee that the State, and the state (the Republic), will not be defenseless in the presence of a threat to its security. However, the governers of the various States have forsaken their duty and responsibility to provide for the "unorganized militia" (the Citizen Militia.) It is apparent that they don't like the idea of an armed populace trained in arms, prepared to defend the State in the event of unrest or invasion, to assist in the event of an emergency, and, especially, to defend their God-given Rights, Liberties, and Constitutions. Ultimately, the responsibility rests on the shoulders of each individual citizen. So, citizens do not need permission from any "authority"to form the Militia. The people are the authority. From every legitimate angle, We The People are justified in keeping and bearing arms as well as forming or participating in the Militia, independent of government control, for the purpose of defending ourselves, our families, our communities, our God-given Rights and Liberties, our Constitutions, our State, and our Republic. Our Constitutions protect our legal Right to do so and the American Revolution shows we have the historical Right to do so. The Second Amendment recognizes that the Militia's existence and the security of the state ultimately rests in the people; those who volunteer to constitute the Militia and supply their own arms. Fundamentally, it is not the state that defends the people, but the people who defend the state. That is why the Citizen Militia and the citizens' private arms are not legitimate subjects for Federal legislation or regulation - they are Rights of the people that are to be protected and not be infringed. The National Guard is solely the creation of statutory law whereas the Citizen Militia existed before there was a nation or a constitutional form of government! It was the efforts of people owning and bearing arms - in other words, the Citizen Militia - that led to the establishment of the United States and was the very authority out of which the U.S. Constitution grew. This is a point that is often overlooked: the federal government itself is a child of the armed citizen.
It is obvious that elected officials are very active in passing regulations but increasingly passive when it comes to upholding their Oath of office and protecting the Rights of American citizens. It is not the citizen who is in rebellion when governing officials break their Oath to uphold the Constitution. Despite the endless harangue leveled against Citizen Militias by various government officials, the national media, and organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, many people don't feel threatened by their local Militia. The usurpation of our Constitution and Bill of Rights has awakened many Americans to the dangers of lawless government and people are catching on to the fact that the problems in America today are coming out of Washington, D.C. and their own State House - not the rural areas and back woods of their State.
Those who recognize what has been happening and try to keep a low profile, not expose or raise the issue of unjust, unconstitutional laws are ignoring the responsibility of their citizenship and betraying what generations of Americans have fought and died for. The issues will have to be faced sooner or later. Better now than later. Mark Twain remarked: In the beginning 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. The survival of our Republic depends on whether enough good people can be found who will stand up for justice and expose and resist tyranny, regardless of whether it's popular or convenient. Although not a Founding Father, Albert Einstein reflected our Founders' and Framers' sentiments when he noted: The strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it. Only if every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defense are constitutional The Militia tradition has been one of the great participatory institutions in American republican theory - the political theory that shaped our nation's origins. The election, the jury, and the Militia were important ways in which the people could keep government honest. Most people support the ideals of Liberty and Justice for All but know either very little about our nation's founding documents, our Constitutions and Bill of Rights and the Citizen Militia, or what knowledge they do have has been perverted by modern rhetoric that betrays an agenda other than the pursuit of the truth. That is why participants in the Citizen Militia call and write elected representatives, write letters to the editors of newspapers and magazines, set up information booths at county fairs, call in to radio talk-shows, volunteer in elections, and even run for public office: to help educate our fellow citizens concerning their duties and responsibilities as well as to counter the misinformation and disinformation spread about the Militia. It should be noted that no one "joins" their local Militia because everyone, the whole of the people less any exceptions listed in constitutional State law, is already in the Militia. The Obligation taken by those who want to actively participate in their local Militia unit is a
formality, the public declaration of their intent to serve in that capacity.
As the Indiana Militia Corps is a public organization composed of a variety of people, and in order to maintain its legitimate function, it is limited to constitutional issues and concerns. Those concerns are not in terms of Left vs. Right or Democrat vs. Republican but rather:
Self-governance vs. A totalitarian state.
Independence vs. dependency.
Self-reliance vs. servitude.
Freedom vs. Slavery.
If we say and do nothing about the unconstitutional welfare-state, planned-economy way of life that is continuing to develop in our country today, we reject and abandon the principles of individual Freedom and limited government upon which our nation was founded; we reject and abandon the concept of patriotism which characterized our nation's Founders and Framers. Do we Americans today have the dedication and the courage to stand up, as Patrick Henry did in 1775, and declare: Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! One of the questions asked in our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, is: O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
We cannot ignore the fact that this question is not only about the flag - but about us, the people it waves over.