Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Original "Militia"

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.

These were the words written into the Constitution....well over two hundred years ago.  In the end....the over-all document was signed by all members present, and has survived without any changes for this entire period.

For most people, there is this slight misunderstanding and lack of history on what militia really means.

If you existed in 1780...in any common village or town in America....you existed without a sheriff, cop, marshal, police, or military organization to provide protection for the community.

A militia was generally the term used....by all citizens at the time....for the locals who basically provided protection for the community until some figure of law (typically a judge) could arrive, assess the situation, and determine guidance.

An example?  Bob and Joe had a land deal in progress....when suddenly Bob yanks the offer back, sells to Marty, and concludes the deal in a matter of five minutes with the help of a barrel of whiskey to sweeten the deal.  Joe enters the scene....angry over this last-minute dump, and starts to fight Bob.  Local folks step in, stop the fight which had knives drawn, and send off to the county seat for a judge to come and sort out this mess.  The local folks?  A militia.

A local tribe has hostile feelings over the actions of two locals, killing one and chasing the other into a village.  The village reacts immediately drawing weapons, and protecting the individual and the village.  The action?  Committed by a militia.

A man is caught one night trying to steal cattle.  Five villagers catch the guy in the act, and hold him for three days awaiting a county judge to arrive and assess what punishment to dish out.  The five villagers?  A militia.

You did not require a sworn oath (note, the Constitution kinda hinted that you couldn't make rules to affect the militia when intact and acting as such).

You did not require military training of the militia.

You didn't have a list of rules to meet and determine the local leader of the militia.  If you wanted to do this and elect a guy....you did it on your own, without the Constitution dictating such.

There were no laws that dictated that a militia could only be formed in the event of an emergency.  A militia could form today, tonight, or any time.

The type of weapons that a militia could draw upon?  Never written, never specified, nor intended to be an issue as determined by Congress.  The militia could draw any weapon in defense of the community, and nothing within federal law could prevent that.

Now, that said....state law could direct various issues.  They could determine that no punishment be handled by the militia....only by a state-appointed judge.  They could issue a rule that no man be held permanently by a militia.  They could issue a law that dictated no militia could determine a death sentence upon a man, if he killed someone.

The federal power over militias and their guns was simple. Only the states could manage them and control them via their own structure.  It wasn't the job of Congress to settle militia problems.

Over two hundred years....our history professors have lost grasp of what was common knowledge in 1780.  And sadly, we are left with journalists who cannot stand history lessons or ask about the starting point of our own Constitution.