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The 2nd Amendment: The Original Homeland Security

by Matthew Holmes

Matthew R. HolmesA few weeks ago in an article titled, “Conscription, Standing Armies, and Love of Country” I wrote that the Federal Government had outlawed the state militia’s mentioned in the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.   This was incorrect.  

The state militias have been “nationalized” into the “National Guard” and are now being used unconstitutionally for foreign occupations.   Governors across the country are complaining to the Bush administration that their National Guard units are being depleted for the War in Iraq, and that they do not have enough manpower to handle emergencies in their home states.

The U.S. Constitution, Art. I, Sect. 8, states that Congress has the exclusive power “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions [...].”   First, we must notice that this grant of power exists under Article I, where the powers are enumerated for the U.S. Congress, the representatives of “We, The People.”

Secondly, Congress may call forth the militia for 3 purposes, to: 1) Execute the Laws of the Union (i.e., Federal laws), 2) Suppress Insurrections, and 3) Repel Invasions.   It doesn’t take a constitutional expert to see that the War in Iraq in none of the above.   Though some may argue that the National Guard is executing the laws of the union by helping to carry out the “war on terror,” I think this would be stretching the Framer’s intent extremely thin.

Notice that the power to declare war and call forth the militia is specifically NOT granted to the President in Article II.   The Framers of the Constitution greatly feared that a sole executive with the exclusive power to take the country to war would eventually deteriorate our republican form of government into a monarchy and military empire.

The original idea behind the state militias was that they would be closest to the action, so to speak. Should there be an invasion in Arizona, the Arizona State militia could be mustered much more quickly to the scene than could the Federal Army “regulars” from across the country.   This was not a new idea, but was taken from historical examples in ancient Greece and modern Switzerland.   In this sense, the constitutional state militias were intended to be the original “homeland security.”

Matthew Holmes has been an independent researcher and writer for 10 years.


Originally published in Liberty For All July 29, 2004.

4 Responses to The 2nd Amendment: The Original Homeland Security

  1. RTO Trainer

    November 28, 2006 at 9:05 am

    You still aren’t right.

    You’ve got the right sources, but you’ve got to dig deeper. Look into not only the Guard’s dual role, but also how that works (USC Titles 32 and 10).

  2. Terry Copple

    November 30, 2006 at 9:44 pm

    Some states have both an organized militia and a National Guard. California had the best militia a score of years ago according to a document in the Pentagon library that I read at the time. The purpose of the militia was to provide the state with a disciplined force when the National Guard was federalized. California had war industry plants, etc.

    The Nebraska militia ceased to exist because of neglect in the late 1800′s. Its last action was Wounded Knee in SD. The troops never received their promised pay.

    The National Guard is a separate entity from the militia authorized in 1903 as I recall.

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  4. RTO Trainer

    December 1, 2006 at 3:06 pm

    Careful. “Federalized” is not the same as “activated.”

    When Federalized, National Guard troops operate under Title 32 authority. We are usable for the three federal purposes of the militia clause; insurrection, invasion and law-enforcement. The Governor, however, remains our Commander in Chief.

    Activated, means that Congress, under its authority to raise armies, has converted us from militia, into units/members of the Active component of the US Army. Once the Title 10 orders that do this expire or are canceled, we revert to our default state of states’ militia.

    All this stuff didn’t change recently. The evolution of it has been going on since 1903 and the Dick Act.