Section 311 of US Code Title 10, entitled, “Militia: composition and classes” reads:
“(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 â€”
(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.”
That is, all males of military age who are or intend to become citizens of the United States are under federal statute the “unorganized militia”, and have the duty of the militia to defend the Constitution of the United States against enemies foreign and domestic (as both naturalizing citizens and members of the armed forces swear to do).
This is always worth remembering, but never more than when prompt and violent action by civilians has recently prevented the murder by bombing of an entire planeload of passengers, as occurred on December 25th 2009 on Northwest flight 253.
The police and military cannot be everywhere, and any society in which they could be would not be fit to live in. They weren’t there when Umar Farouk Abdulmutalib tried to set off his bomb. The passengers who responded proved once again that the militia obligation is more relevant than ever in an age of asymmetric warfare and terrorism.
In january 2008 the Supreme Court affirmed that the individual right to bear arms is guaranteed to individual citizens of the United States under the Second Amendment of the Contitution. The first sentence of that Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”. The court recognized that “well-regulated” in that clause is often misunderstood; it means “well-drilled” or “well-trained”, as we say a clock is regulated. The court also recognized that the “Militia” of the Second Amendment includes — indeed, primarily refers to — the unorganized militia. That is, the entire citizenry; the nation in arms.
The clear message of flight 253 is the same one conveyed by Todd Beemer and the heroes of Flight 93 on the day of 9/11. Citizens need to be physically, mentally, and morally equipped to fulfill their obligation as members of the unorganized militia. The eternal vigilance of a nation in arms is both our last and our first defense against enemies foreign and domestic.
And yes, by “in arms” I mean armed. The men who wrote the Second Amendment into the Constitution understood that when our enemies come to subdue and destroy us, they will not be trying it on with stuffed toys, candyfloss, and uplifting affirmations. They will attack us with instruments of force, and we will need to be “well-regulated” — better at using the instruments of force — to stop them.
Flight 253 reminds us once again that “we” is not and cannot be just the police and the military. Every member of the unorganized militia shares that obligation, every minute of every day.
Accordingly, I have this to say to all American citizens: Train yourselves. Arm yourselves. Prepare yourselves mentally and morally. You may pray that the moment never comes when your duty requires you to use violence against enemies foreign and domestic; but under the Constitution, the law, and the custom of the United States that is your duty. Be ready to meet it.