To Muster or not to Muster
A Rose by Any Other Name
I run a weekly open online discussion for anyone interested in Constitutional militia. One of our very welcome regulars is the commander of a numerous and very well-regarded group in central Virginia. This group is a few years old, now, and was started by the simple expedient of widely-circulated flyers announcing a public Militia Muster. As the commander tells the story, space was provided on the sign-up form to express interest in leadership positions. Those who did, gathered together after-the-fact to decide exactly what they had created, and how to run it.
Looking at their numbers, at the uniformly positive relationships the group has built in their community with neighbors as well as with local government and paid law-enforcement, as well as at their impressive political clout, they are a howling success story.
It should be noted that they represent themselves as falling into the “unorganized militia” category under their State law. Their commander argues that this fact, and their recognition as “county assets” under the name of militia (which is of course described as “necessary” in our federal Constitution), gives them important legal protection. However, if they wish to be recognized as the “well-regulated militia” which is the kind of militia that description refers to, and which is also described as having a peculiar relationship of reciprocal support and oversight with government in Article I Section 8 Clauses 15 and 16, I do not know to which documents, practices, or characteristics they will point. As far as I know, they have thus far asserted none of the law-enforcing, insurrection-suppressing, invasion-repelling authority specified in Art I Sec 8 Clause 15. Thus they have no certain role in the needed restoration of good law and Constitutional governance, except as assistants to the paid guys, or as a conventional political action group. It is likely that they are seen as a potential hindrance to those outside or inside the government that may be planning serious invasions on individual rights, but exactly how they could obstruct such, lawfully and without contributing to chaos, is not clear to me.
Nonetheless, their commander issued last week to our discussion group the serious challenge, “Why has each of us not followed his model, and simply announced a public militia muster in our own locality?”
While we may flatter ourselves that our hesitancy comes from sober judgement that the direct approach using the dreaded M-word will in some way not work, we may also be guilty of social fence-sitting, fearful of burning bridges in the community….or lazy!
In fact, there was an out-and-out militia muster here in my home County, about 4 years ago, called by a loudly patriotic and gun-toting local resident and former Sheriff candidate through his numerous Facebook group. The FB group had several hundred members. About thirty live people showed up, which is a very large turnout for my sparsely-populated County. I made my pitch there for Constitutional militia and the rest of the Tactical Civics plan.
This muster resulted in one hard-core tactical-training-only group, which lasted a year or more, but dissolved when the trainer moved away. The Facebook group-owner led another much smaller group that continued making truculent statements on Facebook, and mostly travelled out-of-state to march nose-to-nose with BLM . This group also did some sporadic tactical training for a couple of years, including a target station that required shooting across a public road and over power-lines. Neither of these groups has/had any community footprint.
I belong to a group that began a year or so after the muster, calls itself “Community Watch”, and numbers around a dozen members. It is theoretically committed to the Tactical Civics process. But its visible focus is on preparedness, mutual assistance, building a local communication net, and community service. It is now forming a CERT, sponsored by the local Emergency Services office. It has also done highway cleanups, assisted at public events, and holds open monthly meetings. There is no chance that our current County government would consider passing a Militia Ordinance, and availability of electable Constitutionalist candidates to replace them is doubtful here.
These are only two samples , one in a a populous but not urban, politically conservative Virginia County, and one in a very thinly-populated, politically uninvolved-to-liberal County in West Virginia. If the public militia-muster method is to be widely attempted, what should we consider to increase the likelihood of good outcomes? What possible negative outcomes should we consider, and prepare to mitigate?
It is easy to agree that we want to protect and enhance positive public perception of Constitutionalist and “patriotic” activity. We want to establish a group that will effectively defend the liberties we assert and enshrine in our founding documents. We want to increase our own and our community’s safety and security, and generally enhance the life of our community. I believe that it is essential to all these goals, to pursue the Tactical Civics plan.
This means creating Militia, so named, which is Constitutional by reason of being demonstrably “well-regulated”, recognized and supported by and responsive to [local] government. It also requires educating the community about it, and about the Grand Jury. Necessary also to these goals is building the political power to get Ordinances passed that provide clear support for these Constitutional functions.
However, as I understand the law, a “militia” cannot be Constitutional until this regulation and support is in place, and that must be guaranteed by local Ordinance as long as the State and the Congress continue in rebellion against their duties. Therefore there is little to be gained by calling a group “militia”, especially if that is likely to slow its growth and acceptance in and by the community, UNTIL passage of Ordinances recognizes and protects its full Constitutional character and authority.
Political power means people, so it is necessary that the process attract and excite more than it alienates. If there is substantial fear of or hostility toward the word “militia” in the community, not only will the fearful or hostile reject the idea out of hand, but many other potentially interested individuals will decline to become involved because of reluctance to alienate friends and associates.
Taking a hard line, “you are a patriot or you are not”, “we need no cowards”, may be necessary when entering an actual violent confrontation, but people develop courage and patriotism by many routes and processes. A person may love peace and opportunity, which we patriots understand come from freedom under law, but may be deluded into thinking that these come from tight government control and “wise” central planning. There are lots of people who mistakenly believe that militia is actually against the law, but would love to be a part of serving and defending the community. I do not believe we can afford to alienate realistic potential allies
Using at the outset a name less scary than militia, avoids these problems. The group forms, and works hard to weave itself into the fabric of the community, providing church security, painting the park fence, training, building comms network, prepping and teaching the community about prepping, forms a CERT team in cooperation with the paid emergency services establishment, gets to know the sheriff and local police and maybe provides them with intel and manpower, helps the fire dept with traffic control, cultivates allies in the business community, helps old ladies across the street…..
The core group knows that the goal is Constitutional Militia, so another ongoing task is to teach about it. Eventually the whole group will understand that militia is the goal, is lawful and necessary as well as benign, and why. Awareness of and support for the same concept will be built in the community, and eventually on the governing body that is to pass the facilitating Ordinances. At that point, the whole community knows “that great, helpful group” that has made it a better, stronger, safer place.
This also resolves the objection that it is dishonest to train and organize to be militia under another name, only to change it later. The goal is to be clearly Constitutional militia, but that becomes possible only when the necessary Ordinance is passed. Immediately upon passage, the members of the Sons of Liberty, training group, MAG, Watch, Constitution Guards, or Community Mission step forward as a unit to sign up for the XXXX County Constitutional Militia.
Certainly as the education process proceeds it may be judged appropriate to change the name sooner, but it MUST take place on passage of the Ordinances.
You can see a sample Ordinance on my web-site, or I can send you the version specific to your State.