Field Manual of the Free Militia: Section I

Principles justifying the arming and organizing of a militia

By the Free Militia
See also: Section II

1.1 The morality of arming and organizing
Memorize: "He said to them, 'But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.'" -- Jesus Christ (Luke 22:36)

1.1.1 Biblical inspiration and authority

Before we can rightly consider arming and organizing ourselves as a militia, we must consider whether or not doing so is the right thing to do. Later on we will see that we have the historical and constitutional right to form a militia. But ultimately, right and wrong is determined by God's will, and God's will is determined from the Bible. Why turn to the Bible to answer our questions about right and wrong?

If you are a Bible believer, you must be committed to following its moral standards. If you do not believe the Bible, you should still know and weigh what it says and use it to justify your actions to Bible believers.

To answer this question we will briefly look at what the Bible says about its own inspiration, inerrancy, sufficiency, and authority.

First, look at 2 Timothy 3:16-17: "All Scripture is God- breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." Here the apostle Paul is teaching us that the Bible (or Scriptures) are inspired by God or God-breathed. Take careful note of two things that Paul says are God-breathed or inspired. He says that "all Scripture is God-breathed." Notice here that it is the actual Scriptures themselves, the words of the Bible, that are inspired (God-breathed) and not simply the authors. God gave us the precise wording of the Bible in its original Hebrew and Greek, not just the main ideas. Paul also says that "all Scripture is God-breathed." It is not just portions of the Bible that are inspired but all of it. We therefore say that the Bible is the word of God! This testimony that the Bible is the word of God runs throughout the whole Bible. (See, for example, Exodus 34:27, 2 Samuel 23:2, Jeremiah 26:2, John 12:49, John 17:8, 1 Corinthians 14:37, and Revelation 2:18.)

Now to say that the entire Bible is equally inspired word-for- word does not necessarily mean that it is all of equal value or interest to us. It simply means that word-for-word it all came from God.

The Bible is word-for-word the word of God. Therefore it is completely true or without any errors. This is what we mean by "inerrancy." Think about it. If God knows everything (1 John 3:20) and cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18), and if the Bible's words are God's words, then there cannot be any mistakes in the Bible. Otherwise, God would either have to be wrong himself or lying to us.

While this line of reasoning is undeniable, the Bible does not leave us to make our own conclusions about its truthfulness. The concept of infallibility or inerrancy is clearly the Bible's own teaching about itself. Jesus said, "Not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of the pen, will by any means disappear from the Law" (Matthew 5:18). In other words, the Bible must be fulfilled in the smallest detail. He also taught that "the Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35) and praying to the Father stated, "Your word is truth" (John 17:17). God's word can only be truth if it is free from errors. Remember in school when true or false questions on tests were false if any part of them were wrong? Luke wrote his gospel "so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught" (Luke 1:4). Peter wrote, "We have the word of the prophets made more certain" (2 Peter 1:19). More certain than what? Read 2 Peter 1:16-18. Peters says that the word of the prophets is more certain than his own eyewitness experience of Jesus Christ.

Now the fact that the Bible doesn't have any mistakes is not simply "academic" truth. It is of immense practical importance. Only if it is all true can we know for sure that any particular part of it is true. Do you want to do right by obeying a command in the Bible only to find out later that you were wrong to do what you did? Of course not. We need a Bible that is true throughout to have any real hope of pleasing God.

There is still more you need to know about the Bible. Not only is it God's word, not only is it true, but it contains everything you need to know about God and your relationship with him. The fact that it is everything we need to know is summed up by the word "sufficient" and is clearly taught by Paul the apostle in 2 Timothy 3:15-17. It tells us everything we need to know for salvation (2 Timothy 3:15), truth (2 Timothy 3:16), and good works (2 Timothy 3:17). This is why the Bible tells us over and over again never to add to it or to take away from it (Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:6, Revelation 22:18).

Now when we say that the Bible tells us everything we need to know, we need to realize that some things are stated directly and some indirectly. A good algebra textbook, for instance, may not give answers to every algebra problem. Yet is does fully define the rules and principles by which every algebra problem may be solved. The Bible likewise contains all that we need for our relationship with God even if it does not provide direct answers for every problem or question we face. On such indirect issues we must draw valid conclusions based on what Scripture does say.

This leads us to the final point which needs to be made about the Bible: the Bible alone is authoritative meaning that it, and only it, must be completely believed and obeyed. Since all of the Bible is God's word we cannot pick and choose what we want to obey. Since it is all true we cannot neglect a portion of it by raising doubts about its reliability. Since it contains all we need for our Christian walks we cannot appeal to something or someone besides the Bible as our final authority on some issue.

We cannot argue with any part of the Bible any more than we can argue with God himself! God has "laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed" (Psalm 119:4). If we disobey, we will surely fail (Matthew 7:24-25).

We must make sure that whatever we do in any department of life, including the use of force, conforms to the truth and moral principles of the Bible.

1.1.2 The continuity of the Old and New Testaments

If the Bible is the word of God, is it a self-consistent message? Yes! Some sincere Christians believe that the New Testament overturned the Old Testament rendering the Old Testament obsolete. But this is false.

The New Testament did not change or overturn the moral principles of the Old Testament. It simply clarified, developed, added to, or fulfilled them.

Look at what Jesus Christ said: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, unto heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of the pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (Matthew 5:17-18). Several things should be noted about these two verses.

First, Jesus did not abolish what the Old Testament said. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus did not contradict anything said by the Old Testament. Rather than abolishing the law against murder, he went beyond it to prohibit hatred (Matthew 5:21-22). He did not abolish the law against adultery but went beyond it to prohibit lust (Matthew 5:27-28). He did not abolish the principle that punishment by the state should be limited to "an eye for an eye" but simply corrected the abuse of this legal principle of justice by forbidding personal vengeance (Matthew 5:38-39) which the Old Testament also forbids (Deuteronomy 32:35). And he did not negate any Old Testament law by telling us not to hate our enemy because this was a tradition of the scribes found nowhere in the Old Testament (Matthew 5:43-44).

Whenever Jesus wanted to justify his actions or establish a truth, he did it by quoting the Old Testament, not by denying it. Even when he said that loving God and loving our neighbor are the greatest commandments, he was quoting Old Testament commandments that were still in effect. The fact is, the law is still in effect and binding today. "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at one point is guilty of breaking all of it" (James 2:10).

Second, Jesus did come to fulfill the Old Testament. In Colossians 2:16-17 the apostle Paul says, "Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however is found in Christ." So it is true that some things in the Old Testament no longer apply to us because Jesus has fulfilled them. But it is only ceremonial aspects of the law that were changed, not the moral aspects. And whatever was finally fulfilled by Jesus Christ was replaced by something better.

The religious festivals of the Old Testament pointed to Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 5:7). The Old Testament priesthood was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who is our High Priest and replaced by the priesthood of all believers (Hebrews 7:23-24). The Old Testament physical temple was fulled in Jesus Christ and replaced by the spiritual temple of the church. The Old Testament sacrificed were fulfilled once and for all by the death of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:27). There is no such thing as something in the Old Testament which was abolished without being substituted by something better in Jesus Christ.

Third, the whole law remains binding until the end of the world. Nowhere did Jesus or the apostles ever change or do away with any moral law or principle of the Old Testament. We have already seen that Jesus based his morals on the Old Testament. Furthermore, the New Testament emphasis on love is not instead of the law but the essence of it.

Paul wrote, "Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not covet,' and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:8-10). Just because we are filled with Christian love does not mean that we can now sleep around, murder, steal, and covet. Indeed, our love makes us do what the Old Testament law commands.

The relationship of the Old Testament law to salvation

This brings us to the question of why Paul deprecates the law and good works (Roman 3:20, Galatians 24, Ephesians 2:8-10, etc.). Nowhere does Paul deny the validity of the moral laws for determining what is right and wrong and for guiding our everyday lives. Like Jesus, his arguments and teaching were always based on the Old Testament itself (Acts 17:2-3, Romans 1:17, Romans 3:10-18, etc.). What Paul denies is the validity of the view that obedience to God's laws can save us. As sinners, we are incapable of full obedience to the law and therefore cannot please God (Romans 3:20, Romans 8:6-8). So we must depend upon the grace of God in Jesus Christ to be forgiven (Romans 6:23).

But this was nothing new! Obeying God's laws did not save anyone in the Old Testament anymore than in the New Testament, and grace did not save anyone any less. No one in the Old Testament was forgiven or saved because they obeyed the law; the law simply made them aware of their sin just as in the New Testament (Romans 3:20, Romans 7:7-8, Galatians 3:24).

The point of all this is that the Old and New Testaments are equally valid and totally consistent in teaching what is right and wrong. Anyone reading the Old Testament will easily recognize the fact that it does not condemn violence or war when it is justified by biblical principles. Abraham rightly fought to rescue his nephew Lot from invaders (Genesis 14). God gave ground rules for conducting warfare (Deuteronomy 20). The book of Judges is basically a history of heroes and patriots who fought against the tyranny of invading armies and ungodly rulers. David was the greatest king of Israel as well as one of its best soldiers (1 and 2 Samuel). Nothing in the New Testament changes any of these facts.

1.1.3 Jesus Christ was not a pacifist

Of course, Christ's emphasis on love is sometimes perceived to imply that he was a pacifist who condemned all violence and war. But this is a misunderstanding.

A close look at the Bible will show that Jesus Christ was not a pacifist and will demonstrate that he approved of the justified use of deadly force.

Neither John the Baptist, nor Jesus, nor the apostles condemned soldiering.

"Then some soldiers asked him, 'And what should we do?' He replied, 'Don't exhort money and don't accuse people falsely -- be content with your pay'" (Luke 3:14). John the Baptist did not tell soldiers that being soldiers was immoral per se, but simply condemned the abuse of their position as soldiers.

Jesus did not rebuke the centurion for being a soldier, but commended him for the faith that came from his understanding of authority in the military (Matthew 8:5-13; see also Acts 10:1-48).

Jesus Christ both permitted and commanded his followers to be armed.

"He said to them, 'But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one'" (Luke 22:36). Now that the apostles had learned the lesson of trusting in God (Luke 10:4), they were to be prepared to defend themselves as they travelled through dangerous areas to take the gospel to the whole world.

"Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. Jesus commanded Peter, 'Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?'" (John 18:10-11). Notice that Jesus allowed Peter to have the sword both before and after this incident. The problem was not that defending someone is wrong; the problem was that it was inappropriate at this time since Jesus wanted to die for our sins (Mark 10:45).

"'Put your sword back in its place,' Jesus said to him, 'for all who draw the sword will die by the sword'" (Matthew 26:52). Again, Jesus did not necessarily condemn using the sword. He told Peter to put it back in its scabbard, not to get rid of it. What Jesus is saying is that anyone who fights risks his life in doing so. This is a matter of fact, not of ethics.

Jesus Christ used just force.

"Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of money changers and the benches of those selling doves" (Matthew 21:12).

"So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables" (John 2:15).

"When Jesus said, 'I am he,' they drew back and fell to the ground." He used his divine power against aggressors (John 18:6).

Jesus Christ would have been justified in defending himself.

On several occasions Jesus Christ evaded an angry crowd rather than giving in to their intent to kill him (Luke 4:28-30, John 8:58-59, John 10:35-39). It was not yet the time for him to sacrifice himself for the sins of many. When the time did come, and his disciples tried to defend him, Jesus said, "Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?'" (Matthew 26:53). Jesus was quite capable of taking care of himself if he wanted to be defended. And his statement that he could call on the Father did not only mean that he had the ability to defend himself, but that he was morally justified in doing so as well. He was under no inherent obligation to die, although he and the Father did plan for him to die.

Jesus Christ will someday use deadly force on a wide scale.

All through the Bible we read of the day when Jesus will return to set things straight. At his second coming he will throw the wicked into the fiery furnace (Matthew 13:41-43). He will separate the righteous from the wicked and send the latter into the eternal fire (Matthew 25:41). He will bring destruction upon unbelievers (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10). He will lay waste to the present heavens and the earth (2 Peter 3:10). And with justice he will judge and make war on the evildoers of the earth (Revelation 19:11-21). This all demonstrates that Jesus is not absolutely opposed to the deadly punishment of wrongdoers. Indeed, there will come a day when he brings it about on a universal scale. But for now, he is delaying his just wrath while giving mankind a chance to repent of their wicked deeds (2 Peter 3:9).

Jesus taught that force was a last resort.

Of course, it is true that violence is not always -- indeed rarely -- justified. "Jesus said, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place'" (John 18:36). So Christians should not use force to establish or maintain the kingdom of God or impose their religious beliefs on others. But this does not mean that Christians should never use force. Jesus implies that if the situation was different, if his kingdom was an earthly kingdom, then force would be acceptable.

Jesus also said, "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Matthew 5:9) showering that our goal should always be to seek peaceful resolutions if at all possible (see also Romans 12:17-19). Later he said, "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matthew 5:39). Slapping the right cheek was not a life-threatening attack, but a personal insult similar to spitting on someone. So Jesus was teaching that we should not resort to force when we face minor personal insults and mistreatment. But he was not condemning self-defense when our very lives are threatened as we have already seen.

Finally, Christ tells us, "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:44-45). How can we love our enemies and kill them at the same time? Clearly Jesus is saying we should harbor no hatred towards anyone. Our actions should never be motivated by hatred or vengeance but only by justice. Judges can and do justly sentence criminals to prison while having compassion on them. God can and does desire a sinner's repentance as he condemns him forever. So also it is possible and necessary for us to love our mortal enemies, to pray for their souls and seek to change their minds and behavior, even when we are forced to take up arms against them.

1.1.4 Principles of just war

As we have seen, Jesus Christ was not a pacifist and it is sometimes necessary to respond to evil with force. But why and when is force right and when is it wrong? Through the Bible there are several key principles to answer this question.

The right to life. All through the Bible it is assumed that individuals have the right to life. For instance, Exodus 20:13 says, "You shall not murder." The reasons we cannot murder is because God says so. But the reason he says so is because he has given us the right to live. This right to life implies the right to self-defense. If we should not be murdered, then we are justified in preventing someone from killing us. This is shown throughout the Bible.

Capital punishment. For various terrible crimes and sins, only death is a sufficient punishment. God himself instituted capital punishment. "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man" (Genesis 9:6). "Anyone who strikes a man and kill shim shall surely be put to death" (Exodus 21:12). Consistent with the principle of "an eye for an eye" (Exodus 23-25), only a murderer's death can satisfy the demands of justice for murder. Capital punishment is also the just penalty for despising authority (Deuteronomy 17:12), rebellion (Deuteronomy 21:21), and kidnapping (Deuteronomy 24:7). It makes no difference in principle whether an individual, or an army, or political leaders are guilty. If a man is guilty of a capital crime, he should die at the hands of an executioner. If any army is guilty of a wide-scale crime, they too should die, at the hands of an opposing army if necessary. If our leaders are corrupted to the extent of imposing tyranny upon the people, then they should be forcefully overthrown and replaced by a legitimate government.

Resisting tyranny. This idea of resisting tyranny is common in the Bible. Clearly we should not resort to force when mere possessions are at stake. High taxes and the like can be endured and do warrant taking lives. But when leaders are responsible for murder, deny civil liberties, and generally impose a draconian regime upon the people, then we should disobey, resist, and rise up to fight. In Exodus 1:15-22 the king of Egypt ordered that all newborn boys be killed. But the Hebrew midwives did right by disobeying and sparing the innocent babies. As we said previously, the book of Judges is full of accounts of leaders raised up by God for express purpose of delivering Israel from the hands of tyranny. Read about Ehud (Judges 3), Deborah (Judges 4), Gideon (Judges 6- 7), and Samson (Judges 13-16). These people are commended for their faith in the New Testament because they responded to God's calling to fight against tyranny (Hebrews 11:32-34).

Justice not revenge, collective not personal. Paul the apostle wrote, "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody" (Romans 12:17). We must always be motivated to do what is right. "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18). By all means we must seek peaceful resolutions. "Do not take revenge my friends" (Romans 12:19). We are not to get even with an evildoer nor are we to take justice into our own hands. But it is not evil or vengeful for people to individually defend themselves or to collectively exact just punishment.

Obeying authority. Since the Bible is the inspired word of God, we must follow its commands and principles. We must take seriously the concept of just war taught explicitly in the Old Testament and implicitly in the New since the Bible is consistent in its moral precepts. Since Jesus was not a pacifist, we cannot say that christians renounce all armed conflict. And while force should be a last resort it is sometimes necessary for self-defense and to resist tyranny.

This leads us to the all important idea of authority. Who is in charge. What must we obey? When is resistance justified? "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me'" (Matthew 28:18). All legitimate authority rests in the Lord Jesus Christ. All earthly authority is therefore derived and limited authority. Christ gives parents the authority to raise children according to his principles (Ephesians 6:1-4). But we have no authority to abuse our children or lead them astray. He gives ordained leaders of the church authority within the church, but they are accountable to Christ (Hebrews 13:17). They also have no authority to abuse or lead astray Christians. Likewise, he gives authority to governments to maintain law and order, not to abuse citizens or to perpetrate evil.

Consider Romans 13:1-5 which is perhaps the most important biblical passage about the authority of governments. "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God" (Romans 13:1). In America, the highest governing authority is the Constitution, not elected officials who are sworn to uphold and defend it.

"Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves" (Romans 13:2). Violating Constitutional liberties is rebelling against God, whether it is done by a criminal or the politicians. Thus,

When elected officials break their oath to uphold the Constitution, it is not the patriotic citizen who is in rebellion, but the governing official!

"For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you" (Romans 13:3). If you do what is Constitutionally right by forming a militia and the government accuses you of wrongdoing, then in fact they have lost all authority because they have turned away from the very thing which legitimizes them.

"For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, and agent of wrath to bring punishment to the wrongdoer" (Romans 13:4). God intends the government to do you good by maintaining law, order, and justice. When the government systematically punishes the upright citizen and commends wrongdoing, it is no longer serving God's purpose.

"Therefore , it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience" (Romans 13:5). Jesus Christ is the ultimate authority and the Constitution is the real governing authority. If we are submitted to Jesus Christ and committed to Constitutional liberties, then our conscience demands the resistance of unconstitutional authority which is no authority at all.

1.1.5 Discussion questions

To determine what is right and wrong in ethical matters, should we follow public opinion, existing laws, our own opinion, or the Bible? Why?

Do you believe that there is any inconsistency in what the Bible has to say about the morality of self-defense and war waged against tyranny? If not, why not? If so, please specify what "inconsistency" you perceive. Is there any way you can see these "inconsistencies" can be reconciled?

Do you believe that Jesus was, or Christians should be, complete pacifists? Why or why not?

How is the idea of just war consistent or inconsistent with loving God? With loving our neighbor? With loving our enemy?

Describe the general continuity of principle among capital punishment, law enforcement by the police, personal self-defense, and just war.

Can you describe the difference between acting out of revenge and acting in behalf of justice? Why is the one right and the other wrong?

What is your definition of authority that must be obeyed?

What are some examples of usurped or illegitimate authority that do not justify armed resistance? Why isn't fighting right in such cases?

What are some examples of usurped or illegitimate authority that do justify armed resistance? Why is fighting right in such cases?

Main ideas of this section

We must make sure that whatever we do in any department of life, including the use of force, conforms to the truth and moral principles of the Bible.

The New Testament did not change or overturn the moral principles of the Old Testament. It simply clarified, developed, added to, or fulfilled them.

A close look at the Bible will show that Jesus Christ was not a pacifist, and will demonstrate that he approved of the justified use of deadly force.

When elected officials break their oath to uphold the Constitution, it is not the patriotic citizen who is in rebellion, but the governing official!

Further reading

If you desire to read and study these issues in more depth, I recommend the following books available from the Free Militia.

On the inspiration and authority of the Bible

Custer, Stewart. Does Inspiration Demand Inerrancy? (Nutley, New Jersey, The Craig Press, 1968), 120pp.

Garrett, Duanne A. and Melick, Richard R., Jr. (editors). Authority and Interpretation: A Baptist Perspective (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, 1987), 220pp.

Giesler, Norman (editor). Inerrancy (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1980), 516pp.

Young, Edward J. Thy Word Is Truth (Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Banner of Truth, 1957), 274pp.

On the morality and ethics of just war

Boettner, Loraine. The Christian Attitude Toward War (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Presbyterian & Reformed, 1940/1985), 91pp.

Davis, John Jefferson. Evangelical Ethics: Issues Facing the Church Today (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Presbyterian & Reformed, 1985), 299pp.

Morey, Robert A. When Is It Right to Fight? (Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bethany House Publishers, 1985), 143pp.

Murray, John. Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishers, 1957), 272pp.

1.2 The heritage of arming and organizing
Memorize: "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know now what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!" -- Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775

1.2.1 Give me liberty or give me death!

When the second revolutionary convention of Virginia met in March of 1775, the majority of those in attendance favored quiet preparations for war but wanted to continue seeking peace with the king of England and Parliament. So when resolutions were introduced proposing that Virginia formally assume a defensive posture in anticipation of war, the majority cringed at the prospect of war being inevitable. The resolutions were about to be defeated when Patrick henry rose to address the assembly. It was his speech that changed minds so that the resolutions were carried. It was his speech that first openly advocated war. It was his speech which arguably mobilized the American colonies for eventual victory.

I therefore will quote the speech in its entirety to set the context of the American Revolution and to remind us of the similar perils we face today. As you read it, keep several things in mind.

Keeping these facts in mind will keep us from mistaking Patrick Henry for an impatient, violent man and keep his speech in proper perspective. And now, let Patrick Henry's words speak for themselves.

"No man, Mr. President, thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very honorable gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining, as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I should speak forth my sentiments freely, and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery. And in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty towards the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

"Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of Hope. We are apt to shut out eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my own part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

"I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past. And, judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry, for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparation which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation -- the last arguments to which kings resort.

"I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy in this quarter of the world, to call for this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging.

"And what have we to oppose them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty, and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not already been exhausted?

"Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned with contempt from the foot of the throne.

"In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we are to be free; if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending; if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained -- we must fight! I repeat sir -- we must fight! An appeal to arms, and to the God of hosts, is all that is left us.

"They tell us, sir, that we are weak - unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of Hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

"Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature has placed in our power. Three millions of people armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.

"Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone: it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery. Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston. The war is inevitable. And let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!

"It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry peace, peace, but there is no peace. The war is actually begun. The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our the clash of resounding arms. Our brethren are already in the field. Why stand here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"

Thus was Patrick Henry's speech. Thus were the resolutions to prepare for war carried. Let me make a few more remarks so you can see the parallels with our situation today and so there is no misunderstanding.

1.2.2 The beginning of the American Revolution

Contrary to popular belief, the American Revolution was not fought because the colonists were taxed without representation. It is true that for years preceding the revolution, taxes and fair representation were the issues that energized patriots. These were the questions that first caused friction between the colonies and England. But no American patriot took up arms to kill a British soldier because he thought his taxes were too high.

American patriots took up arms against the British and began the revolution only when -- and precisely because -- the British attempted to disarm them.

The first incident was when the British tried to confiscate stores of gunpowder and weapons to disarm the militia in New England. Almost at the same time (news travelled slowly in those days) the British confiscated the colonists' gunpowder in Williamsburg. The events in New England resulted n bloodshed; in Virginia the bloodshed was averted. But both historic confrontations took place because the British attempted to disarm citizens.

Two lessons should be noted about these two incidents which really started the American Revolution. First, the British government's attempts to disarm American colonists, even though the colonists had not attacked the British, was considered to be an act of war by the Americans. They knew that if they were successfully disarmed, the British would be unchecked in their attempts to subjugate and enslave them.

Second, when the acts of war were perceived, it was not Americans acting under the authority of the British Crown that opposed them. It was ordinary armed citizens -- outlaws as the British saw them -- who fought.

Our country sprang into being and is founded on the principle of ordinary citizens like you and me arming and organizing ourselves to fight tyranny.

1.2.3 The Declaration of Independence

About a year after hostilities broke out at Lexington and Concord, the Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence. This declaration officially severed political ties with England and established the thirteen American colonies as independent states.

On the one hand, it took quite a long time to finalize and ratify the Declaration of Independence considering that the country had already been at war with Great Britain for a year and there was no real prospect for a peaceful resolution. But what this delay accomplished was a consensus among the delegations from all thirteen colonies about the justification of revolution and independence. It is therefore enlightening to examine their rationale in the Declaration of Independence since it represents the universal position of the leaders of all the colonies as to why America was justified in its revolt against the king and Parliament.

The relevant text is the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence which reads as follows:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the government. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such a form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. -- Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. --"

What follows is an enumeration of particular abuses by Britain, many of which were particular to that day. I shall not comment on these except to say that one complain rings very literally true today: "He has erected a Multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance." We also are harassed by every conceivable kind of regulatory agency, trivial law, and arrogant official which "eat our substance" through confiscatory taxes that get us coming (income taxes), standing (property taxes), and going (sales taxes).

Now for some relevant thoughts on the second paragraph:

If you become convinced that the federal government is bent on systematic violations of our personal liberties, it is your moral duty and obligation to join with others so convinced to restore true liberty for all Americans.

This is a radical conclusion, but our forefathers were "radicals" and this is the premise upon which our nation was founded and has its being.

1.2.4 Guns are not the problem

Americans have a rich heritage of arming and organizing themselves into militias. We have not even considered the Old West where virtually everyone had a gun for self-defense. Nor have we considered the fact that up until the turn of the century, states required by law that every able-bodied adult male citizen possess a gun and ammunition.

But aren't guns the cause of all kinds of evil? Ostensibly, recent movements to restrict private gun ownership or use have been intended to reduce accidents and violent crime. But facts simply do not support this.

Fewer accidents occur with guns than by many other common things in life.

There is no basis for the belief that restricting gun ownership or use will significantly reduce violent crime. While it would be stretching the truth to say that gun ownership prevents crime, it certainly does not cause it.

So-called assault rifles are not the weapon of choice among criminals. They are singled out for gun control not because they threaten the law-abiding citizen but because they threaten an unconstitutional government.

Do not believe gun control activists who claim they only want to regulate and not eliminate gun ownership and use by law-abiding private citizens.

1.2.5 Discussion questions

What were your first impressions of Patrick Henry when you read his speech? Do you think he was a realist or an alarmist? Subversive or patriotic? Principled or power-hungry? Bold or foolhardy?

Read Patrick Henry's speech again in the light of today's situation (substitute America for Great Britain, Congress for Parliament, etc.). Using a highlighter, highlight the statements and ideas that apply now. What are the main parallels between Patrick Henry's day and ours?

Patrick Henry said, "Give me liberty or give me death!" Christian theologian Loraine Boettner wrote, "We desire peace, but not the kind that is found in the slave camp or cemetery." What do you say?

Why do you suppose that the American Revolution was ignited over guns instead of taxes, even though taxes had been the main issue for so long?

What is your definition of a "right" and where do rights come from?

What is the purpose of the government and where does it gets its authority?

What is the proper, just, and moral response of an American citizen to a government which systematically violates the "unalienable rights" of the people? Why?

If a person would publicly advocate the ideas of Patrick Henry or the principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence today, how do you think he would be labeled and treated by the federal government? By the news media? By the typical American citizen?

What does this tell you about the direction this nation is headed?

What was your initial reaction when you read the statement, "If you become convinced that the federal government is bent on systematic violations of our personal liberties, it is your moral duty and obligation to join with others so convinced to restore true liberty for all Americans"? What is your reaction after having time to reflect upon it?

Are you ready, willing, and able to join in such a cause provided that you are convinced your personal liberties are in peril? What are your reasons?

Do you believe that wide-spread gun ownership causes crime, prevents crime, or is virtually irrelevant to the issue? Why?

Do you think it is a virtue or a vise to own an "assault rifle"? Why?

The main ideas of this section

American patriots took up arms against the British and began the revolution only when -- and precisely because -- the British attempted to disarm them.

Our country sprang into being and is founded on the principle of ordinary citizens like you and me arming and organizing ourselves to fight tyranny.

If you become convinced that the federal government is bent on systematic violations of our personal liberties, it is your moral duty and obligation to join with others so convinced to restore true liberty for all Americans.

There is no basis for the belief that restricting gun ownership or use will significantly reduce violent crime. While it would be stretching the truth to say that gun ownership prevents crime, it certainly does not cause it.

So-called assault rifles are not the weapon of choice among criminals. They are singled out for gun control not because they threaten the law-abiding citizen but because they threaten an unconstitutional government.

Further reading

At the very least, you should obtain, read, and absorb a copy of the Declaration of Independence.

If you desire to read and study these issues in more depth, I recommend the following books available from the Free Militia.

Gottlieb, Alan. Gun Rights Fact Book (Bellevue, Washington, Merrill Press, 1988), 168pp.

Gottlieb, Alan. The Rights of Gun Owners (Bellevue, Washington, Merrill Press, 1981), 235 pp.

Henry, William Wirt. Patrick Henry: Life, Correspondence and Speeches (Harrisonburg, Virginia, Sprinkle Publications, 1993 reprint), 3 volumes, 1946 pp. Written by the patriot's grandson.

Norval, Morgan. Take My Gun If You Dare! (El Dorado, Arkansas, Desert Publications, 1979), 103 pp.

Syrett, Harold C. (editor). American Historical Documents (New York, New York, Barnes & Noble, 1960), 427 pp. Excerpts and complete texts of important legal documents from 1606 through 1962.

Tyler, Moses Coit. Patrick Henry (New York, New York, Bert Franklin, 1898/1970), 454 pp. This is a fantastic and arousing biography of the great patriot. I highly recommend it.

1.3 The right to arm and organize
Memorize: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." -- Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

1.3.1 The text of the Bill of Rights

Up to this point we have considered moral principles and human opinions, not the law. To be sure the Declaration of Independence represents a well-nigh universal opinion existent in the American colonies in 1776. But we have yet to establish the legal basis for forming militias. The Bill of Rights is the cornerstone of American liberty and the final court of appeal for our personal freedoms. Since many citizens are not familiar with the Bill of Rights, and since our public education system does an inadequate job of expounding upon them, the complete text is reproduced here for reference.

Article I -- Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Article II -- A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Article III -- No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Article IV -- The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Article V -- No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Article VI -- In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Article VII -- In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall otherwise be reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Article VIII -- Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Article IX -- The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Article X -- The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

These are some of the "unalienable rights" we possess as human beings and which must be protected by the state and federal governments. They are not, necessarily, all-inclusive as Article IX indicates and as subsequent amendments (like Article XIII against slavery) have demonstrated. But they are the bare minimum of what we are Constitutionally guaranteed.

Note also that the Constitution provides for the legal amendment of itself (Article V of the main text). But while there are many parts of the Constitution that are subject to debate and amendable, the Bill of Rights are not. The Declaration of Independence rejects the notion that genuine rights can be annulled by any government or any majority.

We may, for instance, proceed on Constitutional grounds to debate whether the President's term should be four or six years, whether Congress should have the power to lay and collect income taxes, and whether the Supreme Court should be appointed or elected. But we cannot ever consider licensing free expression, invading homes without warrants being issued on probable cause, convicting those arrested without trial, or the like.

1.3.2 The meaning of the Bill of Rights

There are three concepts essential to a proper interpretation of the Bill of Rights. These are original intent, the people, and rights.

Original intent

There are basically two ways to interpret any document written by someone else. The wrong way is to interpret it the way we want to interpret it in light of our personal prejudices and cultural pressures. This is routinely the way our present Congress and court system actually do interpret the Constitution. The right way is to interpret it as those who wrote it intended it to be interpreted. This is what is meant by the Constitutional doctrine of original intent. According to this approach, we are not so much interested in the legal precedents handed down in previous court cases as we are in the historical context of drafting and ratifying the Constitution.

Now of course there are situations and issues that have come up in modern times which the Framers could not have known about and therefore had no direct intentions concerning. But their intent should be held to as closely as possible. For instance, the Framers could not have possibly envisioned the advent of radio and television. Yet their intention was for all forms of press to be free and therefore radio and television journalism should remain free even though they are a new technology. The Framers also could not have anticipated the invention of the telephone or wire tapping. But their intention was certainly that such forms of communication to be free from unreasonable surveillance and searches via wire taps. In the same way, automatic weapons were not a reality in the eighteenth century. But that does not mean that they are not protected by the Second Amendment. To say that machine guns are not protected because they were non-existent when the Constitution was drafted would also mean that radio and televisions journalism are not protected forms of press, and that telephone conversations may be recorded without warrant because these are all new technological developments.

This tangent shows that what we mean by original intent is not that we have exactly and only the same circumstances in mind as the Framers but that we have exactly and only the same principles in mind. Circumstances, technology, and culture may change, but Constitutional principles do not and cannot.

Now the reason that seeking original intent is so important to our Constitutional rights is that ignoring this principle inevitably leads to infringing our rights. Rights are routinely violated by the federal government because the courts ignore original intent and interpret the Constitution to suit their whims or to satisfy public pressure.

Now let's say that you and some friends sit down to lay a board game like Monopoly. Perhaps you agree to play by the rules. Or perhaps you unanimously agree to play by "house rules" and modify a few rules here or there. Either way, all of you agree to proceed with the game on the same basis. Now if some of the players -- even a majority -- choose to reinterpret the rules later in the game this would be viewed as cheating. If such cheating persisted to the point of altering all the rules in the majority's favor and against the minority, then one could hardly blame the minority from quitting the game. Cheating is cheating even if it is done by a vast majority!

Today, the Bill of Rights is being reinterpreted by political officials for the "benefit" of the majority. But such interpretations are clearly contrary to the true meaning of the Bill of Rights. It doesn't matter how strong a majority wants to change these rules, it is cheating nevertheless to change the rules by reinterpretation instead of making legal amendments to the Constitution.

It is clear that our Congress and court system generally reject the doctrine of original intent from the following facts:

It is clear that any approach to interpreting the meaning of the Constitution apart from original intent is futile. Apart from what the Framers meant there is no rule of law. If we can make it mean whatever we want it to mean, then there is no way of coming to agreement over a controversial or divisive issue since controversy means by definition that we disagree on what is right. Apart from original intent, we break faith with those who founded this great nation. How do you like it when people interpret the Bible to suit their fancy instead of as God meant it? How would you like it if your lawyer and heirs simply reinterpreted your will to suit their personal greed? Documents mean what their authors meant!

The only way that the Constitution has any meaning and can serve as the governing document of this country is if we follow its original intent.

"The people" means individuals

The next idea we must examine to understand the Bill of Rights is "the people." The Bill of Rights recognized three entities which are to be governed and united under the Constitution. First, there is the United States which refers to the federal government. Second, there is the states which refers initially to the first thirteen and now to the fifty state governments. Finally, there is the people which refers to individual citizens, not the federal or state governments. It is "the right of the people to peaceably assemble." It is "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms." It is "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects." And other unmentioned rights are to be "retained by the people."

All the rights of the people, indeed all of the first nine amendments, are rights we have as individuals and are limitations on the state's powers.

This is a very important point. The framers were very clear and consistent in who they attributed certain rights to. "The people always refers to individuals, not groups or governments. Indeed, the first nine amendments are solely rights guarantied to the people. Only the Tenth Amendment guaranties rights to state governments, and none, count them, none, recognize any rights of the federal government. The whole of the Bill of Rights was intended as limitation of government, not an empowering of it. So we do great violence to the intended meaning whenever we twist "the people" to mean collective groups or state governments.

The concept of rights

This brings us to the concept and nature of rights. Rights are not a privilege that can be taken away. Nor are they franchise granted by the government. A right is something a human being possesses as a birthright given by God. They cannot be denied, legislated away, or amended into oblivion by any majority short of 100 percent.

The fact that rights are unalienable by any government and cannot be outweighed by the interests of the majority is incontestable.

We do not have majority rule. The whole Constitution -- with its system of checks and balances as well as the rights of the people -- is designed to prevent personal liberties from being by a tyranny of the majority.

1.3.3 The structure of the Bill of Rights

The primary right of the people is personal liberty. All government functions are designed to insure personal liberties. The Constitution's Preamble states the Constitution's (and thus the government's) purposes:

"PREAMBLE: We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish the Constitution for the United States of America."

All of these purposes serve the final purpose of securing liberty: justice is established so institutions and majorities will not abuse our liberties. Domestic tranquility is secured lest criminal elements trample liberties. The common defense is provided for so foreign powers will not invade and enslave us. The "general welfare" (which benefits everyone, not select groups) must be promoted for the sake of fostering liberty. (Roads and mail, for example, benefit all citizens by allowing free movement, trade, and communication.) These are the sole legal purposes of the federal government and each is subordinate to maintaining the blessings of liberty.

This pattern of subordinating everything to personal liberties is also found in the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment protects freedom of religion, speech, and the press. The remainder of the Bill of Rights is subordinate to free expression, not in the sense of being less important, but in the sense of insuring First Amendment rights. Therefore the Second through Tenth Amendments are designed to protect the First Amendment.

FREE THOUGHT AND EXPRESSION (the essence of liberty)
(enforce liberty)
(sphere of liberty)
(prevent persecution)
UNENUMERATED RIGHTS (limit the expansion of federal powers)
STATE RIGHTS (divide and dilute the federal government's powers)

The Bill of Rights has an integrity that can only be maintained as each of its part remain intact. Eliminate a part, and the whole will crumble.

1.3.4 The meaning of the Second Amendment

Now let's examine the meaning of the Second Amendment as it was originally intended as an integral to the whole of the Bill of Rights.

"Article II: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

All of these -- regulation, licensing, registration, taxation, prohibition -- are totally unconstitutional with respect to arms useful to a militia.

1.3.5 Discussion questions

How much of the Bill of Rights were you familiar with before reading this section? Which of these rights were you unaware of or surprised by? Why are these rights so important?

Describe what we mean by original intent. Why is it critical that we interpret the Bill of Rights this way instead of any way we see fit?

What are some Constitutional limits on majority rule? Why are such limits placed on the majority? Are such limitations justified? Why? When do the interests of the majority outweigh the rights of the individual?

Which one or two rights guarantied by the Constitution are most "near and dear to your heart"? Why? Does the fact that you decide not to exercise some of your rights diminish their importance? Why?

Main ideas of this section

The only way that the Constitution has any meaning and can serve as the governing document of this country is if we follow its original intent.

All the rights of the people, indeed all of the first nine amendments, are rights we have as individuals and are limitations of the state's powers.

We do not have majority rule. The whole Constitution -- with its system of checks and balances as well as the rights of the people -- is designed to prevent personal liberties from being denied by a tyranny of the majority.

The Bill of Rights has an integrity that can only be maintained as each of its parts remain intact. Eliminate a part, and the whole will crumble.

Select-fire assault rifles like the M-16 are the most Constitutionally protected firearms precisely because they are standard industry weapons.

All of these -- regulation, licensing, registration, taxation, prohibition -- are totally unconstitutional with respect to arms useful to a militia.

Further reading

At the very least, you should obtain, read, and absorb a copy of the Constitution of the United States in its entirety.

If you desire to read and study these issues in more depth, I recommend the following books available from the Free Militia:

Barnett, Randy E. (editor). The Rights Retained By the People: The History and Meaning of the Ninth Amendment (Fairfax, Virginia, George Mason, 1989), 416pp.

Cord, Robert L. Separation of Church and State: Historical Fact and Current Fiction (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, 1988) 315pp.

Epstein, Richard A. Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain (Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1985) 362pp.

The Gun Rights Activist, "The Epistemology of Liberty," contributed by Herb Campbell, Ron Jongeling, Bruce Knodel, and Rev. Steve Lineman (Hermatage, Pennsylvania, 1994).

Norval, Morgan. Take My Gun If You Dare! (El Dorado, Arkansas, Desert Publications, 1979), 103pp.

1.4 The reasons to arm and organize
Memorize: "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government." -- Declaration of Independence

1.4.1 Our civil rights are threatened

The Bible says that you are morally justified to arm yourself and band with others who love liberty. American history shows that you stand in a great tradition if you arm and organize yourself. The Constitution clearly recognizes your legal right to possess firearms and join a militia. But should you want to?

The U.S. Army field manual on Guerrilla Warfare (FM 31-21, September, 1961, page 5) says: "Resistance movements begin to form when dissatisfaction occurs among strongly motivated individuals who cannot further their cause by peaceful or legal means."

So we must ask ourselves: Is there any reason to suspect that my personal liberties are in jeopardy? Is there any indication that the government is systematically threatening my rights? Is there any possibility that a tyranny could be established in the United States?

Affirmative answers to any of these questions should arouse our fervor for liberty and motivate us to spring immediately and effectively to arms.

It will now be demonstrated that our liberties are in jeopardy, that our rights are systematically threatened, and that tyranny can happen in the United States. (I am not saying it will, I'm saying it could happen.) We will demonstrate this by examining the status of our civil, gun, property, and state rights. First, here are some examples of violated civil rights:

The right to life (Fifth Amendment):

Freedom of religion (First Amendment):

Freedom of the press (First Amendment)

Searches and seizures (Fourth Amendment)

1.4.2 Our gun rights are threatened

In case you think your right to keep and bear arms is secure, just consider the following (much of this happened just in 1993- 1994).

Historical gun control

Gun regulation

Gun licensing

Gun registration

Gun taxation

Gun prohibition

Gun law enforcement abuses

New anti-gun developments as of 3/26/94

In the couple of weeks since printing this material several attacks on gun rights have come to my attention which deserve being mentioned.

First, the Senate-approved ban on semi-automatic weapons which is now pending in the House (a vote is expected around April 1, 1994) actually would ban much more than politicians admit. Supposedly, it would ban only specific models such as the TEC-22, TEC-9, AK-475, Uzi, Galil, AR-70, MAC-10, MAC-11, MAC-12, AR-15, and Steyr AUG to name just a few. However....

Second, as if this is not bad enough, on February 28, 1994, Congressman Schumer and Senator Metzenbaum introduced legislation which advocates:

The really subversive thing about these two bills is that they are aimed at limiting militias more than at limiting crime. Military features on rifles like folding stocks, pistol grips, and flash suppressors are useful on a battlefield but immaterial in committing a murder or bank robbery. How many criminals bayonet someone? Moreover, limiting the amount of ammunition we can own to 1000 rounds does not do anything for violent crime. It only takes one loaded magazine holding a few rounds to knock over a bank or blow someone's brains out. But it takes an "arsenal" of thousands of rounds of ammunition to be ready to oppose the government.

1.4.3 Our property rights are threatened

Your property rights are also under attack. Virtually everything possible is being done to take away whatever wealth you have.

Taking property without a trial (Fifth Amendment)

Taking property for public use (Fifth Amendment)

Income taxes are unconstitutional

Progressive taxes are unconstitutional

Excessive taxes are unconstitutional

Hotel taxes are unAmerican

1.4.4 State rights are non-existent

The state rights guarantied by the Tenth Amendment are universally ignored by every branch of the federal government.

The way things should be

Article X of the Bill of Rights states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Unless the Constitution specifically grants a power to a branch of the federal government, or says that states cannot do something, it is presumed that the authority and power rests with the states. In other words,

Whenever there is a conflict between the laws of federal and state governments, the state law which should take precedent and prevail over the federal law, not vise versa, unless the Constitution says otherwise.

As we saw previously, the whole Bill of Rights is designed as a limitation on federal powers. The Tenth Amendment serves this purpose by dividing and diluting power among the several states. Indeed, it was state governments that ratified the Constitution and delegated authority to the federal government. This being the case, they only handed over authority to the federal government to do what is specified in the Constitution and nothing more.

The way things really are

Obviously, the Tenth Amendment is routinely ignored by the president, the Congress, and the courts. In extra-constitutional matters, state laws should override federal laws. But in fact, federal laws always override state laws. National speed limits supersede state speed limits. Federal environmental rules outweigh similar state rules. In every governmental matter, the only state laws that exist are those compatible with federal laws or which the federal government has seen fit not to address at all.

One of the best examples of the total disregard for state rights is federal mandates. The federal government frequently mandates that states enact certain laws, provide certain services, or fund specific programs that cost millions or billions of dollars without one cent of federal funding to support the mandate.

Don't be fooled by the fact that states are permitted to do things that Washington does not do. Remember, permission and rights are incompatible. In some matters, Congress et al. simply do not want to flex their muscles. For instance, during the Reagan administration, a major shift in power took place away from federal agencies to state agencies. But this was because liberals in Washington recognized that Ronald Reagan sought deregulation. Since state agencies were more active regulators than their federal counterparts, responsibilities were conveniently transferred to the states to sustain strong industry regulation. But this whole scheme is Washington's doing and not the result of any state's right to govern.

The point here is not that state governments are any more noble or benevolent than the federal government. They are not because they consist of the same frail human beings that are susceptible to corruption by power. The point is something that is spelled out clear as day in the Constitution is always and everywhere totally and completely turned on its head!

A call to arms!

From every legitimate angle, we are justified in keeping and bearing arms as well as forming or joining a militia independent of government control. The Bible tells us we are morally right. The American Revolution shows we have the historical right. The Constitution protects our legal right. Moreover, our Constitutional liberties are systematically being eroded and denied. The fact that officials are infringing gun rights on every front is simply a manifestation of their inner tendency to empower themselves. Left unchecked, this tendency will lead to genuine tyranny. Remember, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

So this is a pivotal point in American history. If the government is successful in banning semi-automatic paramilitary weapons, then they will be emboldened not only to further infringe gun rights, but to infringe all rights. This is because the Second Amendment is the teeth of the Bill of Rights, and assault rifles are the teeth of the Second Amendment. Without their bite, there is nothing to prevent a draconian state from devouring all of our precious liberties.

Your right and duty is to arm and organize yourself against further federal and state encroachments on your liberties. As a minimum, you should purchase and learn how to effectively use a firearm, preferably a so-called assault rifle. The more citizens that own guns, the less willing the government will be to threaten us. Ideally, you should also join a local militia, committed to constitutional principles. You need to be organized, equipped, trained, and coordinated with other like-minded men to effectively stand up to the growing arrogance of the federal government. It was said during the American Revolution that "united we stand, divided we fall." This is still true today. So arm yourself. Organize yourselves. And prepare to fight if you have to.

We could learn a lot from the Swiss. They are zealously neutral and refuse to meddle in foreign affairs. Neither should we be aggressors or wish to start bloodshed. But Switzerland is also a virtual armed camp of citizen soldiers prepared to fight to the last man for their freedom. Major H. von Dach of the Swiss army put it this way:

"If two enemies fight each other to the last -- and this is always the case when an ideology is involved (religion is part of it) -- guerrilla warfare and civilian resistance will inevitably break out in the final phase.

"The military expert who undervalues or even disregards guerrilla warfare makes a mistake since he does not take into consideration the strength of the heart.

"The last, and admittedly, most cruel battle will be fought by civilians. It will be conducted under the fear of deportation, of execution, and concentration camps.

"We must and will win this battle since each Swiss [in our case American] male and female in particular believe in the innermost part of their hearts -- even if they are too shy and sober in everyday life to admit or even speak about it -- in the old and yet very up-to-date saying: 'Death rather than slavery!'"

-- Major H. von Dach, Total Resistance: Swiss Army Guide to Guerrilla Warfare and Underground Resistance, Paladin Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1958/1963, p. 173, emphasis added.

1.4.5 Discussion questions

Are you convinced that the cases cited are factual infringements of our rights by the government? If not, which ones are you skeptical of? Are you skeptical that these things actually occur or that they are really unconstitutional? Do you need more substantiation?

Have you ever personally experienced any of these improprieties? Which ones? Do you think you might experience them in the future?

Which of these violations of personal liberties is (are) most alarming, shocking, or ominous to you? Why?

Would you classify the attack on your rights as insignificant or dangerous? As isolated or systematic? As careless or intentional?

On a scale of 1 to 10, how alarmed are you at the present status of your liberty? What else would have to happen to make you alarmed?

Do you believe the present attack on personal liberties is more or less widespread and serious than during the days leading up to the American Revolution? How are things worse? How are they better?

Does it reassure you that these improprieties are done by or with the knowledge of elected officials instead of a military dictator? How is this similar to 1775-1776 when the British Parliament suppressed American liberties? How is it different?

What are your thoughts on joining a militia in your community? What are your reservations?

At this point it would be premature to ask you for your commitment to the Free Militia. You do not yet know who we are, what we stand for, why we exist, when we are willing to fight, or how we are organized. Section 2 of this field manual addresses these issues by explaining:

Would you like to read this section and consider joining us? Yes___ No___

Main ideas of this section

Your civil rights to life, free religion, free press, and security from unreasonable searches and seizures are systematically being threatened.

Your right to keep and bear arms is systematically infringed by regulation, licensing, registration, taxation, and prohibition of all kinds of firearms.

Your property rights are systematically violated by having property taken without trial, without compensation, and through confiscatory taxation.

State rights are universally denied since, in principle, state laws should prevail over federal laws while, in practice, the opposite always happens.

Further study

The best way to follow developments related to your Constitutional liberties is to pay attention to newspapers and news magazines (television news is too surface and sensational to give any reliable information).

I might also suggest a couple of video tapes. The video on the massacre in Waco, Texas is very chilling since it presents actual visual images of BATF abuses of power.

America in Peril

Thompson, Linda D. Waco: The Big Lie, American Justice Federation, 3850 S. Emerson Avenue, Indianapolis, Indiana 46203, 1993.