Constitutional militia movement

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The modern constitutional militia movement, the constitutionalist wing of the "militia movement" in the United States, became active in the mid 1990s in a response of outrage about the violent confrontation at Ruby Ridge, the Waco Siege and gun control legislation.[1] The movement is composed largely of veterans, libertarians, and Second Amendment advocates who share a common belief in individual liberties and civil responsibilities, according to their interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, as well as disdain for what are perceived to be abusive, usurpatious, or tyrannical federal government decisions and actions, and a set of ideals associated with the values of the militia they see embodied in the Constitution.[2][3]


The constitutional militia movement has ideological roots stretching back to the American Revolution, with periods of subsidence and revival. Revivals include Fries Rebellion (1799),the Revolution of 1800, the Dorr Rebellion (1842), the Copperheads (1861–65),[citation needed] and the American Liberty League (1934). Throughout American history, there have been other constitutionalist revivals in opposition to various government actions.[4]

Some writers[5] have asserted that the modern revival of the constitutional militia movement began as early as 1958 but that, in this early phase, it was associated ideologically with the white supremacist Christian Identity movement mixed with constitutionalist elements.

A fear of Communism was prevalent in the United States during the Twentieth Century, against which was set the modern revival of the constitutional militia movement. These militia revivals believed in the sanctity of the U.S. Constitution, and that certain groups are conspiring to destroy America. Unlike the Christian Identity groups, the Constitutionalist militias generally resist casting blame on ethnic, racial or religious groups, but rather blame influential individuals or groups of individuals (e.g., the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission) who promote globalization, collectively known as the New World Order.[6] The Posse Comitatus is an exception to this principle, however, as it adheres to the antisemitic theory of the Zionist Occupation Government.[7]


Conceptually, a citizen's militia has been defined as a constitutionalist private army meeting regularly to practice combat skills and discuss weapons. The militia is defined as social groups practice "skills within a distinct territory, are not always anti-government, and have some opinions regarding use of terrorism to further militia goals." It may have an offensive, paramilitary, and/or defensive orientation depending on circumstances.[8]

Operational features listed in the book Militias at the Millennium include the following:[9]

  1. Training in combat scenarios and weaponry skills in mock actions and maneuvers
  2. Has an identifiable territory in which members reside
  3. Bases organization philosophies on anti-government rhetoric
  4. Development of contingency plans in case of governmental provocation
  5. Considers bombing, kidnappings, separatism, "paper terrorism", or other extreme measures to protect the organic Constitution
  6. Considers the viability of criminal activity to acquire weapons and explosives


One writer offers a description of the constitutionalist militia movement that identifies four types:[10]

  1. The Open Constitutionalist, with the Cascade Brigade as an example
  2. Constitutionalist/Command Structure, with the Alabama Constitutional Militia and the Michigan Militia as examples
  3. Constitutionalist/Cell Structure, with the Militia of Montana and the Texas Constitutional Militia as examples
  4. Underground/ No Public Contact, with the Sons of Liberty (Alabama) as example

Other writers view constitutionalism as the movement, having a militia wing, rather than a militia movement with a constitutionalist wing.[4]


From the inception of the modern movement there has been controversy over whether the movement was an important part of a complete response to many important threats, or a threat in itself. [4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Beaumont, Roger; "American as Cherry Pie? Unofficial Militias in American History", Journal of Conflict Studies Vol. XIX No. 2, Fall 1999: University of New Brunswick
  2. ^ Jonathan Karl, The Right to Bear Arms: The Rise of America's New Militias (New York: Harper, 1995)
  3. ^ Churchill, Robert H., Boston University, 1999 Annual Conference of the Center for Millennial Studies. Arming for the Last Battle: Secular and Religious Millennial Impulses within the Militia Movement.
  4. ^ a b c Robert H Churchill, To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant's Face: Libertarian Political Violence and the Origins of the Militia Movement, University of Michigan Press (March 3, 2009) ISBN 0-472-11682-7.
  5. ^ Weeber, Stan C. + Rodeheaver, Daniel G. Sociological Quarterly. Spring 2003. "Militias at the Millennium: A test of Smelser's theory of collective behavior." Pages 182–84
  6. ^ Weeber, S. C., & Rodeheaver, D. G. (2004). Militias in the New Millennium: A Test of Smelser's Theory of Collective Behavior, pages 11–12. Lanham, Md, University Press of America.
  7. ^ Perry, Barbara (15 March 2001). In the Name of Hate: Understanding Hate Crimes. Routledge. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-135-95783-4.
  8. ^ Daniel G. Rodeheaver; Stan Weeber; Weeber, Stanley C. (2004). Militias in the New Millennium: A Test of Smelser's Theory of Collective Behavior. Washington, D.C: University Press of America. pp. 4–6. ISBN 0-7618-2789-7. (M)ilitias are social groups that practice skills within a distinct territory, are anti-government in outlook, and have definite opinions regarding use of terrorism to further militia goals.
  9. ^ Weeber, Stan C. + Rodeheaver, Daniel G.. "Militias at the Millennium: A test of Smelser's theory of collective behavior," Page 188
  10. ^ Weeber, Stanley C., and Daniel Gilbert Rodeheaver. Militias in the New Millennium A Test of Smelser's Theory of Collective Behavior Page 61.