Monday, January 16, 2017

Why a citizen needs _____________.

Often, I am asked why I espouse the need for people to have firearms in their home.  I am asked why I own body armor.  I am asked why I make it a point to have gear that many people would associate more with a fighting person of our military than with a common citizen.  The Militia Act of 1792 states:

That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this Act. And it shall at all time hereafter be the duty of every such Captain or Commanding Officer of a company, to enroll every such citizen as aforesaid, and also those who shall, from time to time, arrive at the age of 18 years, or being at the age of 18 years, and under the age of 45 years (except as before excepted) shall come to reside within his bounds; and shall without delay notify such citizen of the said enrollment, by the proper non-commissioned Officer of the company, by whom such notice may be proved. That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack.

A few items to point out.
1.  EACH and EVERY able-bodied (redacted in an effort to modernize) citizen....who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five - Every able body citizen that one would reasonably expect to be of fighting age.  That's mandatory, not a suggestion.

2.  That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide HIMSELF with a good musket or firelock...... - The citizenry, that was legally compelled to join the militia, was expected to provide themselves with a musket.  Just so we're clear, this is drastically different than the modern National Guard in which you are issued a weapon which is maintained by the Guard, not kept in the home by the citizen.

3.  ....sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch...... - This would be the 18th century equivalent of having a plate carrier with armor, magazine pouches, spare parts for your firearm, etc.  You were expected to have the gear required to make your weapon effective and allow you to act as a combatant.

4.  ....twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle.... - You were expected to keep a minimum amount of ammo.

5.  ....and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service.... - When a situation would appear that required the militia, composed of average citizens carrying their personal arms and equipment, to muster itself each citizen was expected to show up with his or her gear and prepare to fight in the common defense.

Now, in this modern 21st century age of standing armies and police forces throughout our country, one could almost be forgiven for assuming this antiquated law is a throwback.  Except it isn't.  The reason for the Militia Act of 1792 was then as it is now; to legally codify the express expectation that the common man act in the defense of their community, and that they arm themselves as appropriate.  So, while some may debate the militia verbiage within the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, this law signed into effect not long after the Constitution's ratification makes fairly clear the expectation that the common citizen act in their own defense using firearms and equipment THEY THEMSELVES own and maintain custody over.

Please share this far and wide, and let us continue to remind ourselves and each other, in particular our more skeptical countrymen, that the private ownership of firearms is now as it always was a basic function of being a United States citizen.  Please feel free to comment or contact me if you would like to discuss this further. - Phil Rabalais

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