Grab your musket, ball, and powder because you’re probably a member of at least one Unorganized Militia! Let’s discuss State vs. U.S. militias, and how you became a member without even realizing it.
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Are militias still a real thing?
The 2nd Amendment prevents the government from infringing on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. What it says, specifically is, “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.”
As you can see, the 2nd Amendment unequivocally declares that a well-regulated militia is necessary to ensure the security of a free state. Although use of the word “militia” may seem controversial to some people, the militia was the cornerstone of our nation’s independence during the American Revolution.
In fact, militias are still alive and well today. Depending on what state you live in, chances are that you’re probably a member of at least one militia!
What are the two types of U.S. Militias?
There are two types of militias in the U.S.
- Organized Militias and
- Unorganized Militias
The organized militia consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia. But we’re not going to discuss the organized militias.
The unorganized militia consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia. It might seem confusing at first but bear with me.
Basically, if you’re a member of the U.S. Militia, then you’re either organized or unorganized. How do you know if you’re in the U.S. Militia?
Are you in the U.S. Militia?
The U.S. Code defines the militia for the United States.
There are two types of people who are automatically members of the U.S. Militia.
- All able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States, and
- Female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
So, I’m sorry ladies, but according to law females are never members of the Unorganized U.S. Militia and can only be members of the Organized U.S. Militia through service in the National Guard.
Therefore, if you’re an able-bodied male U.S. citizen who is between the ages of 17 and 45, then congratulations! You’re a member of the Unorganized U.S. Militia.
Are you a member of your State’s unorganized militia?
Most states have their own militias which are completely separate from the armed forces. You might think it’s just a “conservative state” concept, but even more “liberal states” like California, New York, and Washington have laws that establish state militias.
The laws establishing the unorganized militias in California, New York, and Washington follow the U.S. definition pretty closely, but there are some slight variations.
The California Unorganized Militia is comprised of able-bodied males who are 18-45 years old (instead of 17).
The New York Unorganized Militia excludes those males who are on the state reserve list or the state retired list.
The Washington Unorganized Militia on the other hand doesn’t have a cap on age, but includes those who are more than 18 years of age. Also, and most surprisingly, the Washington Unorganized Militia isn’t just limited to males but includes “all able bodied persons…”
But in some states, take Florida for example, the inclusion in the unorganized militia is even broader.
In Florida, “The unorganized militia is composed of all persons who are subject to military duty but who are not members of units of the organized militia.”
You might notice that Texas is missing from this list. Well, that’s because Texas absolutely gutted their unorganized militia (which is referred to as the Reserve Militia) and nobody even noticed.
How Texas destroyed their unorganized militia
According to the Texas Government Code, the “Reserve Militia means the persons liable to serve, but not serving, in the state military forces.”
Well, Texas used to provide a definition for who was liable to serve as a person who is “able-bodied; a citizen or a person of foreign birth who has declared an intent to become a citizen; a resident of the state; at least 18 and not more than 60 years of age; and not exempt.” -former Tex. Gov. Code § 431.081
Unfortunately, in 2013, our genius legislature deleted the section of the law that prescribed who is subject to military duty and failed to replace it or redefine it. That means that we’re left with a Reserve Militia composed of those who are liable to serve in the state military forces, but with no definition of who is liable to serve in those state military forces.
The saddest thing is that it has been this way for the past 10 years and there are no signs of fixing it.
–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,
Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Civil Litigation Division
1101 Broadway, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3303
Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479