Are you shirking your duty to help keep America free?

By Vin Suprynowicz
web posted March 26, 2001

Today's champions of tyranny -- and the victim disarmament which is a necessary condition for the advancement of any enduring tyranny -- have been busy for some years attempting to demonize the term "militia."

What does "militia" actually mean? Richard Henry Lee, who drafted the Second Amendment as well as the rest of the Bill of Rights, gave us a definitive answer in 1788: "A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves. ... The Constitution ought to secure a genuine [militia] and guard against a select militia, by providing that the militias shall always be kept well organized, armed, and disciplined, and include ... all men capable of bearing arms. ..."

But mention "militia" in polite company today, and many folks -- having been fed regular doses of that carefully crafted propaganda -- automatically think of some small band of racist skinhead kooks in Montana or Idaho, embracing the laughable racism of "The Turner Diaries" and preaching some deviant doctrine of white supremacy.

Yet the arguments of these gun-grabbers quickly turn in on themselves, "as dogs upon their masters." They have long assured us -- despite the disagreement of such well-known left-wing legal scholars as Lawrence Tribe -- that the Second Amendment doesn't mean what is clearly says ("The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.") Why? Because those of us who would honor our Constitution and our duty to defend it supposedly ignore the introductory clause of the amendment, to wit: "A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State ..."

Well, what's the plain meaning of this clause? Note the use of the word "free." A well-practiced citizen militia is not necessary to the security of a police state, since police states have droves of uniformed bully boys goose-stepping about in fancy black uniforms and willing to follow the Imperator's orders to arrest and imprison anyone who refuses to Get With the Program.

What the founders meant by that "militia" which must be maintained as our main source of armed men for national defense, if we are to remain a free country, are companies of citizens like the farmers and tradesmen who picked up their state-of-the-art rifles and swarmed to Saratoga in the fall of 1777 to ambush Gentleman Johnnie Burgoyne's foraging parties, eventually bringing the invading redcoats to battle and defeating them under the ad hoc leadership of one of America's great combat heroes, New Haven storekeeper-turned-soldier Benedict Arnold (yes, I know he later messed up.)

As Americans have a duty not merely to show up for jury duty but to understand their right and obligation to acquit any defendant on trial under an unconstitutional statute -- or any defendant who has clearly been refused his right to present a principled constitutional defense -- so do Americans have a strongly implied obligation under the Second Amendment to stand ready to defend our freedoms (remember, "necessary to the security of a free state") by owning, maintaining and keeping in good practice with a firearm of "militia usefulness" -- that being, in this day and age, an M-16 or (preferably, in my opinion) an M-14 combat rifle.

Now, there is a slight problem. The would-be tyrants on the Potomac have made it a federal crime for any American to build or import a military-style, select-fire M-14 or M-16 rifle for sale to a fellow citizen who does not wear a government uniform -- the exception being granted for members of precisely the kinds of "special militias" and "standing armies" which the founders feared.

This leaves only a limited supply of "pre-ban" M-14s and M-16s still circulating. The laws of supply and demand thus mean I'm going to pay more than $4,000 for my fully-automatic M-14 -- after I pay a $200 tax and submit myself to fingerprinting and other clearly unconstitutional indignities and "infringements" -- once I finally get enough saved up. In the meantime, I'm the proud owner of a semi-automatic version of the military M-14 -- the civilian M-1A.

The M-16 (in the lighter .223 caliber) has a similarly more affordable semi-automatic civilian sister, the perfectly legal little AR-15 ... though fans of tyranny like Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein and Ted Kennedy naturally seek to ban these slightly less useful militia weapons at every turn, lying and calling them "assault rifles" (an assault rifle must be capable of fully-automatic fire; these are not) and by -- get this -- trying to link them to "dangerous militias" ... a word which originally defined precisely the kind of peaceful, armed citizens who might stand in the way of any scheme to deliver us over to a massive, cradle-to-grave, socialist welfare/police state!

Ever shirked your jury duty? Feel proud to know some fellow citizen may now be serving time because you couldn't be bothered to go stand as his last line of defense against a bad law or overzealous prosecution -- or, worse yet, because you followed some black-robed lawyer's "order" to convict, even though you couldn't for the life of you figure out who the defendant had hurt, and felt in your heart it was the overzealous cops, trampling our Bill of Rights to "build their case," who should really have been on trial?

What about your obligation to help maintain the militia, so "necessary to the security of a free state"? Have you bought into the absurdity that we "don't need militias any more; times have changed and the standing armies of the DEA and FBI and BATF and the National Guard" -- the guys who maintained and flew the helicopters that machine-gunned the babies and nursing mothers at Waco -- "can do the job just fine"?

Oh, there's a good excuse to spend the weekend on the couch, watching the game.

Be wary of any attempt to twist and poison and propagandize concepts and words which the founders considered vital to instruct us about our freedoms and the tools necessary to preserve them, turning them into "hate speech" terms of scorn and derision.

Citizens do indeed have a few duties in this country. Jury service is one. Owning a combat rifle is another. Have you shirked either of those duties, assuming "someone else will do it -- someone better trained. I can't be bothered, and besides -- what do I know?"

If you can't afford a $1,500 M-1A, a WWII surplus Garand can be found for $500 ... or a WWI surplus Enfield for $250.

So far as I know, all firearm sales at the Cashman Field gun shows in Las Vegas are now subjected to a federal background check -- the back door to national firearms registration and eventual confiscation. But Lou Fascio is running his big gun show at the Reno Hilton again April 6 through 8 -- no background checks or federal registration except those required by law for firearms sold by federally licensed gun dealers. Call 775-828-2350; visit web site, or e-mail

Maybe I'll see you there.

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter by sending $72 to Privacy Alert, 1475 Terminal Way, Suite E, Reno, NV 89502. His book, "Send in the Waco Killers: Essays on the Freedom Movement, 1993-1998," is available at 1-800-244-2224.

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