Militias and the law

The danger posed by America’s militia groups was brought home when the FBI revealed it had thwarted a plot by one to kidnap the Democratic governor of Michigan. These bands of armed vigilantes have become increasingly visible, staging protests and organising street patrols with the purported aim of protecting property.

Alarmingly, they claim to have the Constitution on their side, citing the Second Amendment’s mention of the importance of a “well-regulated militia” to protect the state. But that’s hogwash. What that phrase meant is that, rather than relying on standing armies, which were perceived as a threat to liberty, leaders should be able to call on groups of able-bodied citizens who would act under their command. There has never been a right in any state for a group of armed individuals to set themselves up in opposition to, or in competition with, the civil authorities.

The fact that Biden has been fairly and decisively elected and will be the next President does not mean that groups of armed thugs will go away. They will continue to be an ominous threat. A physical threat, too, and deeply unsettling to those of us law-abiding people who value safety, law and order, the Constitution and Epicurean peace of mind – not necessarily in that order.

State and local officials should have no hesitation in enforcing the law. which is on their side. (Adapted from articles in The Week and the New York Times 24 October 2020)

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