The rise of self-proclaimed private militia is not new to the American landscape, but recent events such as the FBI/Michigan State Police arrest (Oct. 8) of militia members plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer should be of concern to us as a harbinger. Self-proclaimed militias, all too frequently heavily armed (generally with military-style rifles), have become a not uncommon sight on American streets. Regardless of the rhetoric, these are not the militia of the Revolutionary era when the role of militia was to augment the regular army in support of the Continental Congress.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution begins with the clause, “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state” and goes on to guarantee citizens the right to bear arms. The implication of the introductory (subordinate) clause makes the intention of the amendment itself clear. Militias are constituted by a state entity (either federal or state) for the purpose of securing the safety of citizens.
Defenders of private militias frequently ask, “what if the government presents itself as tyrannical by imposing unpopular taxes or considers restrictions on firearms?” The Supreme Court has already ruled on what is known as the “Insurrection” argument. In Dennis v United States (decided 1951) “Whatever theoretical merit there may be to the argument that there is a ‘right’ to rebellion against dictatorial governments is without force where the existing structure of the government provides for peaceful and orderly change.” In other words, the Second Amendment is not a shield for paramilitary organizations when the institutions of government agreed upon by “We the people” remain functional.
The rightful name for people who belong to these kinds of organizations is “gang member.” We as a nation are looking into the abyss. We know not what lies in the darkness.
Abraham Lincoln’s dire fear two years prior to the Civil War should guide us. “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” he said as a warning to his (and our) endangered nation.
Joseph R. Fischer,