a United States Militia

a United States Militia

Gary Hunt
Outpost of Freedom
December 3, 2010

Often I see a suggestion that the federal government should enact statutes protecting the militia, perhaps even organizing and equipping it.  Well, to some extent that is provided for in the Constitution.

Article I, Section 8, clause 15:

Congress shall have the Power to….  To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

So, it can be called forth for certain purposes.

Article I, Section 8, clause 16:

Congress shall have the Power to…. To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

Organizing, arming, and disciplining are also included, extended even to governing, while in time of service to the country.  Significantly, however, the appointment of officers and training is left to the States.  This is important because it show the chain of command being to the State not the United States, (except as necessary when in service to the United States).  The officers know who writes their check, and, the members are trained by local people, though in accordance with the discipline provided by Congress.  The primary allegiance to the State is preserved.

Article II, Section 2, clause 1:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; …

Here is the exception mentioned above.  Only while in service to the country is the allegiance to the State even subordinated.

Second Amendment:

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.

Though State can also mean a country, in the context of the Constitution, it is one of the members of the Union created by the Constitution.  Here, quite clearly, the ability for the State to a free in its nature is assured by the only explanation of the need for the Militia — the security of a free State.

The following was enacted in 1916, with the exception of the provision for “female members of the National Guard (1973) and “unorganized militia” description (1958).  Exceptions (those not in the militia) are provided for in the next Section of the Code, but are irrelevant to this discussion.

10 U.S.C. § 311: Militia: composition and classes

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are –
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

So, let us look at what affect this Statute (United States Code provision) has on the entire concept of Militia.

Let’s suppose that the United States wanted to call forth the Militia, prior to 1916.  They would requisition from the states a quota to be filled.  The States, in their capacity, could refuse, if they wanted, to fill the quota.  I’m not sure where this would take us, since I am not aware of any instance where that happened, but, perhaps, that is why it never happened — that the federal government knew its limits and would not dare call the Militia under circumstances that it felt might generate a refusal.

One Comment

  1. […] right to keep and bear arms. Perhaps, unfortunately, the argument did not bring up the fact that 10 U.S.C. § 311 does exclude some from being members of the militia, though “felons” are not among […]

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