As a law-abiding citizen of this great country, I can form my own militia if I so choose, appoint myself colonel, enlist my friends as privates or PFCs, and we can run around the woods until we all keel over from heatstroke or heart attacks – whatever comes first. It’s all perfectly legal, at least for now.
We have the right to criticize our government. We can sit around the campfire at our secret militia base nursing our sore muscles and fire ant bites and talk about how Joe walks like a penguin, or how it would take Kamala a good 20 minutes just to tell you you’re on fire. It’s all perfectly legal and protected speech, at least for now.
We have the right to train with our firearms. We can draw from a holster, shoot while moving, practice CQB and send as much lead downrange as our bank accounts will allow. It’s all perfectly legal conduct, at least for now.
However, a new bill making its way through Congress known as the “Preventing Private Paramilitary Activity Act of 2024,” would make all of this illegal or at least suspicious enough to draw scrutiny from the feds. More importantly, it would paint a target on the back of every single American gun owner, which is the actual intent of this ill-conceived and extremely unconstitutional legislation.
To be clear, if Joe Biden ever signs this bill, the second he puts down his crayon the feds will flock to local gun ranges in numbers that will make it nearly impossible for actual members to find a place just to park. This bill would give them license to investigate anyone who trains with a gun in order to determine whether they’re a militia member – and don’t think for a second that they won’t.
The FBI recently investigated law-abiding Americans whose sole transgression was shopping at a Cabela’s or a DICK’s Sporting Goods. Evidently, the FBI, the country’s so-called premier law enforcement agency, wasn’t aware DICK’s stopped selling guns and ammunition eons ago. Nowadays, the most dangerous thing on their shelves is a pickleball paddle.
When the Framers wrote the Second Amendment, militia membership was not only encouraged, it was required. All able-bodied men were instructed to own a firearm, powder and shot and to keep them clean and serviceable in the event they were ever needed. Now, under the guise that it might be militia-related, a handful of lawmakers are trying to criminalize firearm training – especially anything tactical. In my humble opinion, it is just another step toward their ultimate goal of total civilian disarmament.
H.R.6981, the Preventing Private Paramilitary Activity Act of 2024, was sponsored by Congressman Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland who apparently has never taken a constitutional law class.
Raskin and co-sponsor Senator Edward J. Markey, (D-Mass.), said in a press release they introduced the bill to “hold individuals liable who directly engage in certain types of conduct, including intimidating state and local officials, interfering with government proceedings, pretending to be law enforcement, and violating people’s constitutional rights, while armed and acting as part of a private paramilitary organization.” (As an aside, there are already plenty of federal statutes on the books to address these types of crimes.)
The two lawmakers, of course, raised the specter of Jan. 6th to help sell their legislation.
“Private military organizations pose a threat not only to national security, but they also present a public safety problem that extends beyond any single state; for example, private paramilitary actors like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers traveled across state lines on January 6th,” they said in the joint press release.
The bill defines a Private Military Organization – the authors’ new term for militia – as “any group of 3 or more persons associating under a command structure for the purpose of functioning in public or training to function in public as a combat, combat support, law enforcement, or security services unit.”
According to this overly broad definition, the private security teams established by churches, synagogues and mosques across the country could be classified as militias, as could dozens of other groups.
Like its definitions, the conduct the bill proscribes is overly broad too. The legislation defines “dangerous conduct” as:
- publicly patrolling, drilling, or engaging in harmful or deadly paramilitary techniques
- interfering with or interrupting government proceedings
- interfering with the exercise of someone else’s constitutional rights
- falsely assuming the functions of law enforcement and asserting authority over others
- training to engage in such behavior
What exactly are harmful or deadly paramilitary techniques? Does CQB qualify? How about movement? Could transitioning, malfunction drills or off-hand shooting lead to my arrest? How about plain ole punching holes in paper on a flat range? The authors don’t say. They would leave it up to federal agents and prosecutors to determine what violates the law. What could possibly go wrong …
Anyone who violates Raskin’s anti-militia bill could face fines and up to a year in a federal prison. Repeat violators could face up to two years. If the violation involves bodily injury there’s a five-year penalty. If a death occurs, the bill calls for a life sentence.
The authors also added a forfeiture clause to confiscate your guns: “Any person who violates subsection shall forfeit to the United States any property, personal or real, involved in, used, or intended to be used, in any manner or part, to commit, or to facilitate the commission of, the violation, or that constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the violation.”
Raskin’s legislation is an unconstitutional nightmare. The bill clearly violates the First and Second Amendments and would have a chilling effect on any organized firearm training. The normal banter about the Biden-Harris administration that almost always occurs during breaks in training classes would have to stop, lest it be misconstrued as a threat. Team training would have to end. Instructors, especially the tactical ones, would have to understand they are only one over-zealous prosecutor away from losing everything. This is all by design, of course. It’s exactly what Raskin and his ilk wanted when they sponsored this abomination of a bill.
Fortunately, the Founders left a few roadblocks for Jamie, Joe and Kamala: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly, and of course our Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
Thomas Jefferson once said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Nowadays, in terms of our civil rights, he could not have had better precognition.
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