Last month, as most of you are aware, I had an abbreviated debate with guest poster Alex on the meaning of the Second Amendment. As I noted in the first post of the debate, I ran into Alex in the comments of a post at Ian Hammet’s Banana Oil! In that comment thread, Alex raised this question:
When was the last time an “armed militia” did anything at all to protect my freedom? Can you give even one example? A free press that can expose government overreaching, that gives me freedom. The right to protest and create a groundswell of changes through civil disobedience, that gives me freedom. The military that keeps the fight with our enemies away from my doorstep, that gives me freedom. Many people have died (or at least put their own lives at risk) in these pursuits just in an attempt to keep you and I free.
(C)oncerning your comment “When was the last time an ‘armed militia’ did anything at all to protect my freedom? Can you give even one example?” I can give an example of how an “armed militia” has protected it’s own freedom. I can give you four, in fact, quite easily.
First, during the Los Angeles “Rodney King” riots, the Korean community armed itself in defense of their businesses and prevented arson and looting. Second, during the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, residents of the devistated areas armed themselves and again defended against looting until law enforcement could be reestablished. Third, Secretary of State Rice recently recounted to Larry King how her father and others armed themselves in defense against “night riders” during the civil rights struggle. And finally, I recommend that you read up on The Battle of Athens, TN. These may not have affected you, personally, but I assure you, these incidents affected the participants greatly. And before you complain that these acts were not carried out by “militia,” I feel it necessary to inform you that according to the U.S. Code, Title 10, subtitle A, Part I, Chapter 13 § 311 defines the militia as:
(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are—
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
Those involved in these actions fall under subsection 2 – the “unorganized militia.”
Alex took exception, of course:
As for the Militia- I would argue that if you go by the definition where anybody of a certain age with a gun constitutes a militia, then yes, maybe there have been acts of liberty by “militias”. However the more prevalent (and realistic) definition (the first one usually listed in a dictionary tends to be the more generally accepted one) is:
An army composed of ordinary citizens rather than professional soldiers.
By that definition I would argue that none of the “examples” you provided were, in fact, militias. (The one debateable example would be the Tennesee folks since they had some basic military training- but even that seems like a stretch).
To turn your argument on its head- by your definition, Condaleeza father was simply facing another “militia”, right? The “Knight Riders” were armed folks trying to get what they want since the government wouldn’t do it for them. It doesn’t matter the intention of these groups by your definition, they should all be armed. Hey, the looters were armed too (some of them), does that make them a “militia”? I would argue it is the formal weapons and tactics training aspect that seperates a true militia (one that could be looked at as an “army of citizen soldiers”) , from a bunch of idiots with guns. If my neighbor’s house is burning and I turn my garden hose on it, that doesn’t make me a fireman.
“I would argue that if you go by the definition where anybody of a certain age with a gun constitutes a militia, then yes, maybe there have been acts of liberty by ‘militias’.” That would be the legal definition, by the statute quoted. However, “I would argue it is the formal weapons and tactics training aspect that seperates a true militia (one that could be looked at as an ‘army of citizen soldiers’) , from a bunch of idiots with guns.” I would argue that it most definitely is not “formal weapons and tactics training” – it is intent. Is the intent of the group or individuals to uphold and defend the rules of society, or break them? Does the group or individual protect and defend the intent and purpose of the Constitution, or does it seek to violate it? Whether the group or individuals are “formally trained” is immaterial. The “formally trained” classification divides the “organized militia” from the “unorganized militia.”
By that definition, how would you define Ms. Rice’s father and his group, and how would you define the “night riders” they were defending against? The Korean shopkeepers? The Miami homeowners? The looters? The mobs?
Alex did not address this last question.
Well, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina certainly illustrates the dichotomy between the looters and the “unorganized militia” in stark contrast once again. Certainly most people interested in this topic are familiar with the Algiers Point militia story:
The Algiers Point militia put its armaments away Friday as Army troops patrolled the historic neighborhood across the Mississippi River from the French Quarter.
But the band of neighbors who survived Hurricane Katrina and then fought off looters has not disarmed.
“Pit Bull Will Attack. We Are Here and Have Gun and Will Shoot,” said the sign on Alexandra Boza’s front porch. Actually, said the spunky woman behind the sign, “I have two pistols.”
“I’m a part of the militia,” said Boza. “We were taking the law into our own hands, but I didn’t kill anyone.”
She did quietly open her front door and fire a warning shot one night when she heard a loud group of young men approaching her house.
About a week later, she said she finally saw a New Orleans policeman on her street and told him she had guns.
“He told me, ‘Honey, I don’t blame you,’ ” she said.
For days after the storm, the several dozen people who did not evacuate from Algiers Point said they did not see any police or soldiers but did see gangs of intruders.
So they set up what might be the ultimate neighborhood watch.
At night, the balcony of a beautifully restored Victorian house built in 1871 served as a lookout point. “I had the right flank,” said Vinnie Pervel. Sitting in a white rocking chair on the balcony, his neighbor, Gareth Stubbs, protected the left flank.
They were armed with an arsenal gathered from the neighborhood — a shotgun, pistols, a flare gun and a Vietnam-era AK-47. They were backed up by Gregg Harris, who lives in the house with Pervel, and Pervel’s 74-year-old mother, Jennie, who lives across Pelican Street from her son and is known in Algiers Point as “Miss P.”
Many nights, Miss P. had a .38-caliber pistol in one hand and rosary beads in the other.
“Mom was a trouper,” said Pervel.
The threat was real.
On the day after Katrina blew through, Pervel had been carjacked a couple of blocks from his house. A past president of the Algiers Point Association homeowners group, Pervel was going to houses that had been evacuated and turning off the gas to prevent fires.
A guy with a mallet “hit me in the back of the head,” said Pervel. “He said, ‘We want your keys.’ I said, ‘here, take them.’ “
Inside the white Ford van were a portable generator, tools and other hurricane supplies. A hurt and frustrated Pervel threw pliers at the van as it drove off and broke a back window.
Another afternoon, a gunfight broke out on the streets as armed neighbors and armed intruders exchanged fire in broad daylight. “About 25 rounds were fired,” said Harris. Blood was later found on the street from a wounded intruder.
Not far away, Oakwood Center mall was seriously damaged in a fire caused by vandals.
“We were really afraid of fires. These old houses are so close together that if one was set afire, the whole street would all go up,” said Harris. “We lived in terror for a week.”
Their house is filled with antique furniture, and there’s a well-kept garden and patio in back. “We’ve been restoring this house for 20 years,” said Harris.
There are gas lamps on the columned porch that stayed on during the storm and its aftermath. The militia rigged car headlights and a car battery on porches of nearby houses. Then they put empty cans beneath trees that had fallen across both ends of the block.
When someone approached in the darkness, “you could hear the cans rattle. Then we would hit the switch at the battery and light up the street,” said Pervel. “We would yell, ‘we’re going to count three and if you don’t identify yourself, we’re going to start shooting.’ “
They could hear people fleeing and never fired a shot.
During the days, the hurricane holdouts patrolled the streets protecting their houses and the ones of evacuees.
“I was packing,” said Robert Johns. “A .22 magnum with hollow points and an 8mm Mauser from World War II with armor-piercing shells.”
Despite their efforts, some deserted houses were broken into and looted, said Pervel.
Now the Algiers Point militia has defiantly declared it will not heed any orders for mandatory evacuation. The relatively elevated neighborhood area is across the Mississippi River from the city’s worst flooded areas and has running water, gas and phone service.
“They say they’re going to drag us kicking and screaming from our houses. For what? To take us to concentration camps where we’ll be raped and killed,” said Ramona Parker. “This is supposed to be America. We’re honest citizens. We’re not troublemakers. We pay our taxes.”
“It would be cruel for the city to make us evacuate after what we’ve been through,” said Pervel.
The roof was damaged on her house and the rains left “water up to my ankles,” said Boza. So she moved into her mother’s nearby home.
She said she still has 42 bullets to expend before she could be forcibly evacuated.
“Then I hope the men they send to pull me out are 6 feet 2 inches and really cute,” she said. “I’ll be struggling and flirting at the same time.”
By BOB DART,
Cox News Service
Monday, September 12, 2005
In Biloxi, Mississippi, the same:
Jeffrey Powell yanked the cushions off his living room sofa and arranged them on the bed of his truck. Then he got his shotgun, made himself comfortable, and spent the night in his driveway, protecting his hurricane-ravaged home and enjoying whatever breeze he could catch on a steamy night.
Powell is part of the Popps Ferry Landing neighborhood watch, a group of citizens trying to restore order and peace in their middle-class community a week after Hurricane Katrina brought her chaos.
“We’re not going to have any looters out here,” said Dan Shearin, 56, Powell’s next-door neighbor. “We have some burly men who are sleeping outside with guns. If the looters come, we’ll take care of them.”
They haven’t shot anyone, but they had to scare off a few groups of people they didn’t know in the middle of the night, Shearin said.
As stories of violent and desperate looters have made their way across Mississippi, people in communities where law enforcement has been overwhelmed are reaching for their guns to police their streets.
In Popps Ferry Landing, many neighbors had lived near each other for years but had never spoken. The realization that their safety and homes were vulnerable and police presence was scarce brought them together quickly. The Dollar Store up the road was looted and vandalized pretty badly.
“We haven’t exactly seen organized law enforcement out here,” said Hugh Worden, 53, who lives on the other side of Powell. “The first day after the storm, we saw law enforcement out here. After that, there’s not been much patrol. I suppose police are protecting the main streets.”
Worden, a manager at Treasure Bay Casino before it was destroyed, said he has talked to everyone within three blocks of his home.
“The good thing is, now we all know each other,” he said.
Popps Ferry Landing is tucked away in an enclave of western Biloxi, not far from Pass Road, the main east-west thoroughfare through town. Most of the houses here are two-story Colonials built in the early 1990s, and valued between $100,000 and $175,000. Many lost all or part of their roofs in the storm, and on some the entire front was torn away, as well. Piles of wood and aluminum siding stand in yards. So many trees are down, the road is an obstacle course.
Shearin said he did not sleep outside with a gun, but like most of his neighbors, he owns one. He has a Smith & Wesson .38.
“If I see somebody who’s not supposed to be here, I’d shoot over their head,” he said. “I wouldn’t shoot anyone. I’m not a violent person — not yet, anyway.”
Shearin, a retired phone salesman, said he has been disappointed that police don’t have the manpower to deal with looters.
“What good is the federal government?” he asked. “You’ve got to take care of yourself.”
Sitting on his porch drinking a bottle of Aquafina, Shearin said he’d never seen as much destruction as Katrina brought.
“The terrorists couldn’t do this much damage,” he said.
He and his wife, Dottie, said they’d like to get out of Biloxi for a while, but they, like their neighbors, have to stay and wait for insurance claim agents to come by and assess the damage. The Shearins lost half their roof and most of their back yard, including a new hot tub.
“We are waiting on the insurance agents,” Dottie Shearin said. “They have to come by and make a visual inspection.”
Around the corner, Marti McKay, 30, said she and other neighbors have scattered their cars around the street to make it look as if everyone is home. It was scariest before they got their power back Saturday.
“It’s nerve-racking at night around here because it’s so dark,” McKay said. “It’s so quiet. We’re used to the sound of air conditioning, and lights.”
Her housemate Robin Frey helped organize some spotlights in the neighborhood powered by generators. And neighbor Oliver Fayard, 49, walked the streets with a flashlight to check on everyone.
“You didn’t have a choice but to get out there and network,” Frey said. “We saw some cars we didn’t know that came through the neighborhood. We gave them a look to kill. We made it known these are not vacant houses.”
By Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 5, 2005; Page A23
Another example from New Orleans:
When night falls, Charlie Hackett climbs the steps to his boarded-up window, takes down the plywood, grabs his 12-gauge shotgun and waits. He is waiting for looters and troublemakers, for anyone thinking his neighborhood has been abandoned like so many others across the city. Two doors down, John Carolan is doing the same on his screened-in porch, pistol by his side. They are not about to give up their homes to the lawlessness that has engulfed New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
“We kind of together decided we would defend what we have here and we would stay up and defend the neighborhood,” says Hackett, an Army veteran with a snow-white beard and a business installing custom kitchens.
“I don’t want to kill anybody,” he says, “but I’d sure like to scare ’em.”
With generators giving them power, food to last for weeks and several guns each for protection, the men are two of a scattered community holed up across the residential streets of the city’s Garden District, a lush neighborhood with many antebellum mansions.
The streets, where towering live oaks once offered cool shade, are now often impassable because of huge fallen branches and downed power lines. Lovely porches framed in wrought iron lay smashed. Many of the homes appear only slightly damaged, or even untouched.
But the neighborhoods are stunningly empty, and so quiet that they sound like a forest.
It is a short drive but a world away from the city’s downtown, where tens of thousands of hungry, thirsty and increasingly angry people waited in misery at the Superdome and the New Orleans Convention Center before evacuations finally began.
Here, Carolan starts his nightly watch by lighting a big fire in his barbecue pit. Hackett turns his lights on and jams a 15-foot wooden brace against the front door so no one can break through.
The night is “black, black, black,” Hackett says. “It reminds me of when I was in Vietnam, it reminds me of Dac To.”
They have not had a problem staying awake. Each night there are gunshots in the distance, sometimes people walking through, an occasional car driving by.
“Last night I had to draw down on some people,” Carolan says. A car with what sounded like a crowd of drunken, partying kids came through and stopped.
“I had to come out with a flashlight in one hand, pistol in the other,” he says, crossing his arms like an X. “I said: `Who are you? Do you live here? What are you doing here?’ They said, `We’re leaving.'”
Hackett, who in his 50s, lives alone, with his two cats and a bunch of neighbor’s pets that he is caring for. Carolan, 46, is keeping watch with his brother, wife, son, and 3-year-old granddaughter.
In the first few days, they were especially fearful. Looters smashed windows and ransacked a discount store and a drugstore a few streets over. Three men came to Carolan’s house asking about his generator and brandished a machete. He showed them his gun and they left.
“It was pandemonium for a couple of nights. We just felt that when they got done with the stores, they’d come to the homes,” Hackett says. “When it’s not easy pickings, they’ll go somewhere else.”
Things have gotten quieter, the men say, but not quiet.
“What do you say, I’m a survivor,” John Carolan says with a laugh, thinking of the reality TV show. “Hey, give me the million bucks now.”
How long can Carolan and the others hold out?
Hackett has enough gas and food for a month. Carolan says they have weeks’ worth of food and bug repellent, and he will siphon gas from left-behind cars to keep his electricity going.
“Everything we have is in our homes. With the lawlessness in this town, are you going to walk away from everything you built?” Carolan says. “A lot of people think we’re stupid. They say, `Why did you stay?’ I say, `Why didn’t you stay?'”
Sept. 5, 2005
These are just a couple of the stories of people arming themselves and organizing. The militia is made up of all the population who are willing and able to come together to assist in the defense of people and property against enemies foreign and domestic.
Alex tried to claim that the KKK and looters qualified as “militia” under the legal definition spelled out in U.S. Code, Title 10, subtitle A, Part I, Chapter 13 § 311. Not so, and it is blindingly apparent to anyone who is not self-deluded into believing that guns in the hands of the law-abiding are a threat to the safety of the public.
Remember: Any law that could be passed to “reduce the number of guns” in circulation, will reduce the number of guns in the hands of the law-abiding – not the criminal, nor the criminally inclined. It will disarm the victims, not the perpetrators.
Ask Patricia Konie. And do a Google News search on Ms. Konie. She’s not to be found on any Mainstream Media link. Interesting, isn’t it?