Militia: Legal Background

“Militia” in the American legal lexicon means the entirety of the able-bodied adult population, properly organized, armed, and disciplined in some effective manner at all times. By incorporating “the Militia of the several States” into its federal structure, the Constitution ensures that such “Militia”—and, absent an Amendment, only such “Militia”—will always exist under its aegis.”

The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 50.

Also see Trained BandsAlarm List • “Regulate” the MilitiaPre-constitutional Rhode Island Regulating Her Militia •  Pre-constitutional Virginia Regulating Her Militia • “the Militia of the several States”


Militia: Legal Background

 If you wanted to know what the word “Militia” meant during the colonial period, presumably you could have gone to a small town and talked with the locals and they would have told you what militia were. But if you wanted to know the legal specifics, you would have looked at the then existing Militia statutes. Militia had been in existence for generations throughout America, settled and regulated pursuant to Colonial and then State statutes. And there are hundreds of Militia statutes that go back to the early 1600′s, until after the Constitution, as they kept passing them pursuant to constitutional authority. The fascinating thing about all these statutes is that they are all principally the same. If you were to take one statute from Virginia, one from Rhode Island and one from New Hampshire and “white out” the indicators of which State or Colony this was, you would not be able to tell one from the other.
  • The pattern of the Militia statutes. Rhode Island is indicative of the legal principles mandated for Militia service in all of the American Colonies.

    Every “able-bodied adult free male” was a member of this governmental organization, the “Militia”. Usually from 15-16 years old to 50-60 years old. And those age ranges reflected mental or psychological and physical capabilities. Society presumed that when you were 15-16 years old you were capable of serving in an actual  military capacity. And by the time you get to be 50-60 years old you had all sorts of ailments that couldn’t be treated, like arthritis, cataracts, and any physical damage during your life time which have made you partially crippled. So the requirements were not arbitrary distinctions, but looked into the practicalities of the way these people lived. The people were narrow in their interpretation of the statutes. Some of the statutes talk about physical disabilities that would exempt you from “full participation” because no one was exempted from every element of participation.  In one colony, for example, if you lost an eye, you didn’t have to show up for “muster” (i.e., show up for the training). You still had to have a gun, however, and you could be called out in an alarm situation (i.e., “insurrection” or “invasion”). As we got closer to the Revolutionary War period the statute was revised to say that you were only exempted if you lost your “right eye” (i.e., your “shooting eye”), so if you were blind in the left eye, the law would still require you to muster.

  • ‘Homeland Security’ was the legal duty of every ‘able-bodied adult free male’ from the earliest days in the American Colonies. The Charter of Rhode Island—1663.

     From Rhode Island’s very beginning, provision of her “homeland security” was the legal duty of every able-bodied adult free male. The immediate and especially the ultimate sources of this duty were never in doubt.

    Rhode Island’s Charter. In the Colony’s first “constitution”, the Charter of 1663, King Charles II

    G[a]ve and Grant[ed] unto the * * * Governour and Company [of the Colony] * * * THAT it shall and may be Lawful to and for the said Governour * * * to Nominate, Appoint & Constitute such and so many Commanders, Governours, and Millitary Officers as to them shall seem Requisite for the Leading, Conducting and Training up the Inhabitants of said Plantations in Martial Affairs; & for the Defence and Safeguard of the said Plantations: AND that it shall and may be Lawful, to and for all and every such Commander, Governour and Millitary Officers * * * and Major part of the Freemen of the said Company * * * To Assemble, Exercise in Arms, Martial Array, and put in Warlike Posture the Inhabitants of said Colony for their special Defence and Safety; AND to Lead and Conduct the said Inhabitants, and to Encounter, Expulse, Expel and Resist by force of Arms, as well by Sea as by Land; and also to Kill, Slay and Destroy by all fitting ways, Enterprizes and means whatsoever, all and every such Person and Persons, as shall at any time hereafter Attempt or Enterprize the Destruction, Invasion, Detriment or Annoyance of the said Inhabitants or Plantations * * * . (footnote 1)

    Notwithstanding that Rhode Island’s Charter referred all-inclusively to “the Inhabitants” of the Colony, the legal and social context of the time—and the manner in which such authority was invariably exercised thereafter throughout Colonial America—made plain that its purpose was “[t]o Assemble, Exercise in Arms, Martial Array, and put in Warlike Posture” only, but in principle all of, the able-bodied adult free males only.

    Footnotes:

    1.) EN-28 — THE CHARTER Granted by His MAJESTY King CHARLES The SECOND TO THE COLONY OF Rhode-Island, AND Providence-Plantations, In AMERICA, 8 July 1663, in Public Laws of Rhode Island, 1719, at 5. Also in Public Laws of Rhode Island, 1744, at 10-13 (separately paginated). Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 95.

  • Rhode Island’s pre-constitutional Militia organized all free males from sixteen to sixty years of age. A statute from Rhode Island’s General Assembly in 1779.

    Rhode Island’s pre-constitutional Militia organized all free males from sixteen to sixty years of age. To some of them the statutes granted various exemptions from service. In its best statement of the reasons for and substance of the basic exemptions available, in 1779 Rhode Island’s General Assembly declared that,

    whereas, by the Experience of all Ages, it has been found expedient, for the better Support of Subordination and military Discipline, to form separate and distinct Corps, which shall take in the different Degrees and Orders of effective Men, so far as respect their Offices and Stations in Life; and whereas this Assembly, influenced by this Principle of general Utility, have ever exempted certain Persons from serving promiscuously in the Militia Battalions; nevertheless, as the Public, in Cases of Necessity, had and have a Right to claim their personal Services, that the same beneficial Purposes may still be effected, It is Enacted, That all Persons under the following Description be exempted from serving in the Infantry Battalions, and Companies of Artillery, viz. all Persons who have served in the Place of General Officers, Justices of the Peace, or other commissioned Officers, the Ministers or Teachers of each Church or Congregation in this State, all sworn Practitioners in the Law, Physicians, Surgeons, Apothecaries, all Persons appointed to work the Fire-Engines, one Miller to each Grist-Mill, one Ferryman to each stated Ferry, all those who have lost a right Eye, or are disabled by Lameness, all Town- Councilmen, Treasurers, Clerks and Serjeants, while serving in their respective Stations.

    And be it further Enacted, That all Persons between the Ages of Sixteen and Fifty Years, exempted as aforesaid from serving in the Infantry Battalions, be formed into separate Corps, to be known and called by the Name of the Senior Class, * * * who shall at all Times be armed, accoutred and provided, * * * and subjected to the same Regulations as the Battalions aforesaid.

    *   *   *   *   *

    Provided always, That this Act shall not extend * * * to any Persons who are excused from bearing Arms, by having taken the Affirmation [of conscientious objection], or produced the Certificates from the Meeting of Friends, as by Law required; neither shall the same have influence upon or prejudice any Charters already granted to Independent Companies.” (footnote 1)

    Footnotes:

    1.) EN-539 — An ACT for the better forming, regulating and conducting the military Force of this State, AT the GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the Governor and Company of the State of Rhode-Island, and Providence-Plantations, begun and holden at South-Kingstown, within and for the State aforesaid, on the last Monday in October, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-nine, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 10 [12], at {32-33, 38}. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 241-242.

  • Militiamen were required by statute to purchase their firearms and ammunition in the free market. Ten statutes spanning the course of 116 years—from 1665 to 1781.

    The actual existence of, and encouragement for, what Rhode Island’s lawmakers presumed was an adequate free market for firearms is reflected most directly in her Militia statutes’ requirements that men should obtain their firearms and ammunition through private purchases. For example:

    • • [1665] “[A]ll men from sixteene years of age to sixtye years old are hereby required to” “find themselves armes[.]” (footnote 1)

    • • [1699, 1701, and 1705] “[A]ll persons that are willing to list themselves in * * * troops [of horse]; and to accoutre themselves with * * * carbine and pistol * * * shall be excused from any other duty in militia exercise[.]” (footnote 2)

    • • [1718, 1730, and 1744] “[E]very Listed Soldier of the * * * Militia, shall always be provided with one good Musket, or Fuzee * * * ; also one pound of good Gunpowder, thirty Bullets, fit for his Gun, six good Flints, fit for Service; one good Sword, or Baionet, a Cartouch Box, ready fitted with Cartriges of Gunpowder and Bullets, on the penalty of Three Shillings, for each time he shall be found not provided[.] 

      *  *  *  *  *

      “ * * * [A]ll such Persons * * * excus’d from Training, yet shall notwithstanding be provided with the same Arms, Ammunition, &c. as * * * is required of such as are obliged to Train, & that once every year, or oftner * * * , there shall be * * * a Survey and Examination made, whether such Persons are provided as * * * is Required; and all such Persons as shall be found unprovided with such Arms * * * shall pay the Fine of Five-Shillings for each default[.]” (footnote 3)

      This statute did not specify from what source the “Listed Soldier[s]” and “all such Persons * * * excus’d from Training” were to acquire the equipment with which they “shall always be provided”. But as no statute mandated that the government should provide that equipment (except to the poor), and as the “Soldier[s]” and other “Persons” were personally fined for being “not provided”, the only possible source was the free market.

    • • [1755] “[E]very Person * * * by Law to be accoutred * * * is hereby directed to provide himself with Arms, and other Accoutrements[.]” (footnote 4)

    • • [1766] “[E]very enlisted Soldier of the * * * Militia, shall always be provided with one good Musket or Fuzee * * * , also One Pound of good Gun-Powder, Thirty Bullets fit for his Gun, six good Flints, One good Sword or Bayonet, a Cartouch Box, ready filled with Cartridges of Powder and Ball, under the Penalty of Four Pence for each Article of Accoutrement * * * which he shall be deficient in, for every Time he shall be unprovided therewith[.]

      * * * * *

      “ * * * [A]ll such Persons * * * excused from training, shall, notwithstanding, be provided with the same Arms, Ammunition, &c. as * * * is required of such as are obliged to train. And * * * Twice in every Year, * * * there shall be an Examination and Survey made, whether such Persons are provided as * * * is Required; and all such Persons as shall be found unprovided, shall pay the Fine of Four Pence for each Article of Accoutrement they shall be deficient in[.]” (footnote 5)

      The observation made immediately above in reference to the statute of 1718 (continued through 1730 and 1744) applies here as well.

    • • [1775] “[E]very man in the colony, able to bear arms, [is directed] to equip himself completely with arms and ammunition, according to law.” (footnote 6)

    • • [1776] “[A]ll persons in their towns, being inhabitants” “who are by law obliged to equip themselves with a good fire-arm, bayonet and cartouch box; and who shall not * * * be reported incapable of providing themselves * * * , do provide themselves[.]” (footnote 7)

    • • [1779] “[E]ach and every effective [that is, able-bodied] Man * * * shall provide, and at all times be furnished, at his own Expence (excepting such Persons as the Town Councils of the Towns in which they respectively dwell or reside shall adjudge unable to purchase the same) with one good Musquet, and a Bayonet fitted thereto, * * * one Ram-rod, Worm, Priming-wire and Brush, and one Cartouch-Box.” (footnote 8)

    • • [1781] “[E]ach of the * * * non-commissioned Officers and Soldiers [of the Militia shall] furnish himself with a good Musket, Bayonet, Cartouch-Box[.]” (footnote 9)

    • • [1781] “[E]ach Person, liable to do military Duty * * * (unless excused by the Town-Council of the Town to which he belongs for Inability to procure the same) who shall at any Time be found destitute of a good Gun, being his own Property, shall pay * * * a Fine[.]”

      Footnotes:

      1.) EN-295 — Acts and Orders of the Generall Assembly, sitting at Newport, May the 3, 1665, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 2, at 115 (emphasis supplied). Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 182.

      2.) EN-296 — An Act for the better regulating the militia, and for punishing offenders as shall not conform to the law thereunto relating, At the Generall Assembly and Election held for the Collony at Newport, the 7th of May, 1701, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 3, at 433 (emphasis supplied).This statute is dated “1699” in LAWS AND ACTS OF RHODE ISLAND, AND PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS Made from the First Settlement in 1636 to 1705, at 92, reprinted in J.D. Cushing, Editor, The Earliest Acts and Laws of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (Wilmington, Delaware: M. Glazier, 1977), at 107. Reprinted from a compilation dated “1705”, it appears in Military Obligation, Rhode Island, at 37. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 182.

      3.) EN-297 — An Act for the Repealing several Laws relating to the Militia within this Colony, and for further Regulation of the same, LAWS Made and Past by the General Assembly of His Majesties Colony of Rhode- Island, and Providence-Plantations, in New-England, begun and Held at Newport, the Seventh Day of May, 1718, and Continued by Adjournments to the Ninth Day of September following, in Public Laws of Rhode Island, 1719, at 87, 88; in Public Laws of Rhode Island, 1730, at 93, 94; and in Public Laws of Rhode Island, 1744, at 67, 69. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 183.

      4.) EN-298 — An ACT in Addition to the several Acts regulating the Militia in this Colony, At the GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the Governor and Company of the English Colony of Rhode-Island, and Providence-Plantations, in New-England, in AMERICA; begun and held by Adjournment at Providence, on the first Monday of February, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty-five, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 2, at {72} (emphasis supplied). Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 183.

      5.) EN-299 — An ACT, regulating the Militia in this Colony, part of An ACT, establishing the Revisement of the Laws of this Colony, and for the putting the same in Force, in A LAW, Made and passed at the General Assembly of the Colony of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, held at Providence on the First Monday in December, 1766, in Public Laws of Rhode Island, 1767, at 182, 184-185. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 183.

      6.) EN-300 — Proceedings of the General Assembly, held for the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at Providence, on Wednesday, the 28th day of June, 1775, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 7, at 358 (emphasis supplied). Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 183.

      7.) EN-301 — Proceedings of the General Assembly, held for the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at Providence, on the second Monday in January, 1776, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 7, at 423 (emphasis supplied). Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 184.

      8.) EN-302 — An ACT for the better forming, regulating and conducting the military Force of this State, AT the GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the Governor and Company of the State of Rhode-Island, and Providence-Plantations, begun and holden at South-Kingstown, within and for the State aforesaid, on the last Monday in October, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-nine, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 10 [12], at {31-32}. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 184.

      9.) EN-303 — An ACT for embodying and bringing into the Field Twelve Hundred able-bodied effective Men, of the Militia, to serve within this State for One Month, from the Time of their Rendezvous, and no longer Term, and not to be marched out of the same, At the General Assembly of the Governor and Company of the State of Rhode-Island, and Providence-Plantations, begun and holden (by Adjournment) at South-Kingstown, within and for the State aforesaid, on the Fourth Monday in February, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-one, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 11 [14], at {8} (emphasis supplied). Accord, An ACT for incorporating and bringing into the Field Five Hundred able-bodied effective Men, of the Militia, to serve within this State for One Month, from the Time of their Rendezvous, and no longer, and not to be marched out of the same, AT the GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the Governor and Company of the State of Rhode-Island, and Providence-Plantations, begun and holden, by Adjournment, at Providence, within and for the State aforesaid, on the Fourth Monday in May, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-one, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 11 [14], at {15}; and An ACT for incorporating and bringing into the Field Five Hundred able-bodied effective Men, of the Militia, to serve within this State for One Month, from the Time of their Rendezvous, and for no longer Term, and not to be marched out of the same, At the General Assembly of the Governor and Company of the State of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, begun and holden by Adjournment at Newport, within and for the said State, on the Third Monday in August, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-one, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 11 [14], at {41}. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 184.

      10.) EN-304 — An ACT in Addition to, and Amendment of, an Act, passed in October, A.D. 1779, entituled, “An Act for the better forming, regulating and conducting, the Military Force of this State”, At the General Assembly of the Governor and Company of the State of Rhode-Island and Providence-Plantations, begun and holden, by Adjournment, at South-Kingstown, within and for the said State, on the Third Monday in March, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-one, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 11 [14], at {51-52} (emphasis supplied). Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 184.

     

  • Militiamen were required by statute to maintain possession of firearms in their own homes. Six statutes spanning the course of 136 years—from 1643 to 1779.

    Quite the contrary of any notion that firearms and ammunition were to be consigned to public arsenals unless and until public officials deigned to distribute them. Quite the contrary, Rhode Island’s statutes required her citizens to themselves actually possess personally (not simply own titularly) their firearms and ammunition:

    • • [1643] “[E]very man shall have foure pounds of shot lying by him, and two pounds of powder, and to have it in readiness[.] (footnote 1)

    • • [1665] “[F]or the farther providing for the defence of the Collony, in having a Magazine or store of armes and amunition, both in pertickelar men’s houses, and alsoe on publicke store in each towne”, “every man in each towne be allwayes furnished with two pound of gunpowder, and fowre pound of lead or bulletts”. (footnote 2)

    • • [1677] Individuals within the Militia “from the age of sixteen yeares unto the age of sixty yeares”, not exempted, “shall * * * have one good gun or muskitt fit for service”, one pound of good powder, and thirty bullets at least”. (footnote 3)

    • • [1718, 1730, and 1744] “[E]very Listed Soldier of the * * * Militia, shall always be provided with one good Musket, or Fuzee * * * ; also one pound of good Gunpowder, thirty Bullets, fit for his Gun, six good Flints, fit for Service; one good Sword, or Baionet, a Cartouch Box, ready fitted with Cartriges of Gunpowder and Bullets, on the penalty of Three Shillings, for each time he shall be found not provided[.]

      *  *  *  *  *

      “ * * * [A]ll such Persons * * * excus’d from Training, yet shall notwithstanding be provided with the same Arms, Ammunition, &c. as * * * is required of such as are obliged to Train, & that once every year, or oftner * * * , there shall be * * * a Survey and Examination made, whether such Persons are provided as * * * is Required; and all such Persons as shall be found unprovided with such Arms * * * shall pay the Fine of Five-Shillings for each default[.]” (footnote 4)

    • • [1766] “[E]very enlisted Soldier of the * * * Militia, shall always be provided with one good Musket or Fuzee * * * , also One Pound of good Gun-Powder, Thirty Bullets fit for his Gun, six good Flints, One good Sword or Bayonet, a Cartouch Box, ready filled with Cartridges of Powder and Ball, under the Penalty of Four Pence for each Article of Accoutrement * * * which he shall be deficient in, for every Time he shall be unprovided therewith[.]

      *  *  *  *  *

      “ * * * [A]ll such Persons * * * excused from training, shall,notwithstanding, be provided with the same Arms, Ammunition, &c. as * * * is required of such as are obliged to train. And * * * Twice in every Year, * * * there shall be an Examination and Survey made, whether such Persons are provided as * * * is Required; and all such Persons as shall be found unprovided, shall pay the Fine of Four Pence for each Article of Accoutrement they shall be deficient in[.]” (footnote 5)

    • • [1779] “[E]ach and every effective [that is, able-bodied] Man * * * shall provide, and at all times be furnished, at his own Expence (excepting such Persons as the Town Councils * * * shall adjudge unable to purchase the same) with one good Musquet[.]” (footnote 6)

    Footnotes:

    1.) EN-191 — [A General Town Meeting in Portsmouth,] 5th of October, 1643, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 1, at 77 (emphasis supplied). Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 150.

    2.) EN-192 — Acts and Orders of the Generall Assembly, sitting at Newport, May the 3, 1665, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 2, at 117 (emphasis supplied). Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 150.

    3.) EN-193 — Proceedings of the Generall Assembly held for the Collony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations at Newport, the 1st of May, 1677, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 2, at 570 (emphasis supplied). Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 150.

    4.) EN-194 — An Act for the Repealing several Laws relating to the Militia within this Colony, and for further Regulation of the same, LAWS Made and Past by the General Assembly of His Majesties Colony of Rhode- Island, and Providence-Plantations, in New-England, begun and Held at Newport, the Seventh Day of May, 1718, and Continued by Adjournments to the Ninth Day of September following, in Public Laws of Rhode Island, 1719, at 87, 88; in Public Laws of Rhode Island, 1730, at 93, 94; and in Public Laws of Rhode Island, 1744, at 67, 69. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 150.

    5.) EN-195 — An ACT, regulating the Militia in this Colony, part of An ACT, establishing the Revisement of the Laws of this Colony, and for the putting the same in Force, in A LAW, Made and passed at the General Assembly of the Colony of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, held at Providence on the First Monday in December, 1766, in Public Laws of Rhode Island, 1767, at 182, 184-185. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 151.

    6.) EN-196 — An ACT for the better forming, regulating and conducting the military Force of this State, AT the GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the Governor and Company of the State of Rhode-Island, and Providence-Plantations, begun and holden at South-Kingstown, within and for the State aforesaid, on the last Monday in October, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-nine, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 10 [12], at {31-32} (emphasis supplied). Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Multimedia CD, (2012), page 151.

From the earliest days of the American Colonies, it was “every able-bodied adult free male[‘s]” duty pursuant to law to keep and bear arms suitable to perform their Militia service. Arms were purchased in the free-market and kept in the home. Failure to comply with Militia statutory regulations for organization, individual armament, and training would result in a fine. To be excused from performing one’s Militia service required an exemption.

A properly revitalized constitutional Militia today would include “able-bodied adult from sixteen to sixty years of age”—so women would be included in the Militia as they have since been emancipated and serve today in the regular armed forces.