Originally published in the Fullerton College Hornet, Vol. 79, Issue 4; 15 Sep 1999
Militias. The mere mention of the word will conjure up any of three images — eighteenth-century patriots fighting the British, the “weekend warriors” of the National Guard or the more hyped “redneck fringe.”
Despite what is said by others in the media, the militia is all of these. The militia has a distinct definition in United States Law.
Section 311, title 10 of the U.S. Code states that “the milita 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 and who are, or have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and female citizens of the United States who are commissioned officers of the National Guard…
“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.”
This definition has been on the books for decades and clearly shows that the milita is very nearly every citizen of the United States.
The philosophy of the Founding Fathers, liberal for its day, was that freedom was most secure when armed force was distributed across the body of the people. Nothing to date has invalidated this concept, while history is replete with examples of unarmed peoples exploited by elites with a monopoly on the control of arms.
Within the last decade, Los Angeles has shown what can happen when a disaster — real or imagined — results in the forces of law enforcement being outmatched. Criminals seize the occasion, rioting and looting with impunity.
Many of us have seen images of looters attacking stores and rioters burning police cars, but how many know that gangs also roved throughout the neighborhoods, breaking into private homes to loot and terrorize?
The police and National Guard, despite their efforts, cannot be everywhere and were hard pressed to restore order, let alone provide basic security to the individuals.
Thus it falls to the individual to take responsibility for their own life, liberty and property. Mutual security in times of disaster seems the most probable role of the unorganized militia.
In “Guns and Property,” by Sarah E. Foster, printed in the July 1992 issue of “The Free Market,” the story of Francis Farthing, a Neighborhood Watch leader in a small residential area in Hollywood is told.
To keep out roving gangs during the 1992 riots, Farthing and her neighbors blockaded the streets with dumpsters and had young men guard the barricades with guns.
A gang member wandered through the area, matches in hand, checking out the homes. Farthing ordered him out and he refused — until he saw her neighbors with their weapons.
At that moment, a station wagon and two pickup trucks filled with gang members carrying guns and Molotov cocktails came through an unguarded alley. The thug jumped in one of the trucks and all three vehicles sped off.
“You know,” Farthing said later, “I’ve supported every kind of anti-gun law that’s come along. I thought those guys in my neighborhood with guns were nuts, but it was they and their guns that saved us.”
The danger of foreign invasion in modern America is remote and the idea of marching on Washington to throw out the current crop of politicians is limited to those with more extreme views.
Despite how we may feel about our elected officials, in this system is ballots — not bullets — that will change our government, for better or for worse.
The unorganized militia needs to be trained to secure their neighborhoods, to provide first aid and fire-fighting tasks and to gather enough armed might to protect against looters or other opportunistic criminals.
However, the trend among politicians recently seems to be making every effort to disarm the unorganized militia by banning modern rifles and handguns.
The irony is that these well-meaning but ill-advised attempts are stimulated by fear of criminals, yet this will only result in disarming the common people — their victims.