“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.” – Second Amendment (1791), United States Constitution.
Since the beginning of America there has been a need for private citizens to protect, not just themselves, but their families, communities and properties. During the Revolutionary War citizens from all over the colonies came together under a common purpose, and it was the defense of a new nation. Along with the Continental Army, they broke the chains of tyranny and defeated the British. After the end of the war and during the drafting of the Constitution the founders saw that citizens not only had a right but also a responsibility to protect themselves from all enemies, foreign and domestic. This responsibility gave birth to the Second Amendment.
The Second Amendment may be one of the most embattled amendments in our constitution, mostly for the freedom of firearms that it provides. America is one of the freest nations in respect to firearms ownership. However, within that amendment there is a much more important debate raging in the court of popular opinion: the American Militia Movement. This movement is made up of loosely affiliated and self-funded groups of highly skilled and well-armed citizen soldiers from around the country. They share a common goal and that goal is the protection of the American citizenry and her ideals. This is protection from both our own government and foreign entities that wish harm to us. Unfortunately, in the years since our great victory, militias have become marred in a liberal funded and media run smear campaign.
The media has waged a declared war on the American militias for decades. They use tactics such as fear and associations to steer the tide of the general public against what amounts to a fundamental right in America.
In 1995, Timothy McVeigh detonated a large explosive device at a federal building in Oklahoma. This would later be coined “The Oklahoma City Bombing”. The media as well as many other interest groups went on the offensive and repeatedly tried to link McVeigh to any militia movement; but ultimately all that they could come up with was that he was an admirer of the movement. McVeigh was executed a few years ago having neither repented nor showed remorse for the act. McVeigh’s actions against what amounted to non-combatant, government employees and their children is despicable; equally despicable is the reaction of the media and other entities such as the Anti-Deformation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) towards the militia movement.
These groups have continued their attacks on this movement of patriots even today. Today, the attacks on the character of these groups have changed but the message remains the same. The SPLC has made a mission out of trying to link mainstream militia groups with racial hate groups and white supremacy movements across the country. The militia movement was also used to try to tear down the Tea Party in the early days of that movement. The SPLC in particular has made it a mission to attack these groups of freedom loving Americans and these attacks have gone largely unchallenged by the media which is in turn giving SPLC airtime to spout its false accusations. Wolf Blitzer was quoted on his CNN program describing militias like this, “They’re right-wing extremists with lots of guns and an axe to grind against the U.S. Government.”
The assertion is, in fact, very false. Most militia members are everyday people. They are your plumber, mechanic, lawyer and, in some cases, even your doctor. These are men and women who are embracing the responsibility given to us by our founding fathers. When this provision was placed in the Constitution, it was in a time when people were afraid of government. Men like George Washington had seen the evils that could come from an unchecked, large central government. Now we would rather have a “give me” state than our right of vigilance and our ability to protect ourselves in the event that our government becomes tyrannical.
Many people say that this is not happening and that these people are ill-educated conspiracy theorists. This is simply incorrect. Look at how this amendment has been trampled by things like the Brady Bill and Concealed Carry Permits. The government has made it very expensive to exercise your right to own and carry your firearms. You could also see government oppression in the form of the Obama healthcare legislation. This current administration has made a habit of going against what the people want to push their own agenda.
The fact is that our government is becoming more tyrannical everyday. We are slowly being stripped of our rights and it is happening in a fashion that blinds us to it. The reason the administration, the media and groups like SPLC all hate the American Militia is because it stands as a final check and balance against an overstepping federal government. The words “Don’t Tread on Me” didn’t make it on the Gadsden Flag because they sound cool.
This doesn’t mean, however, that the movement is without it’s fringe members and those who seek to hijack the movement for their own nefarious activities. But as the Occupy Wall Street movement has so skillfully taught us, you cannot judge an entire group by the actions of a few fringe members. With that being said I would like to leave you with a quote from Thomas Jefferson about militias in America. “And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms … The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.”
Image: Sycamore Shoals State Park visitor center in Elizabethton, Tennessee, “Overmountain Men,” statue: the frontier militia that helped defeat British loyalists at the Battle of Kings Mountain during the American Revolution; artist: Jon Mark Estep; Brian Stansberry; Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.