Sound Off: Does Joining a Militia Count as Military Service?


Maybe it’s because the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon is really cold this time of year or maybe it’s because there aren’t any good hotels with 24-hour room service nearby, but the national media hasn’t really flooded the zone with wall-to-wall coverage of the militia takeover in support of convicted arsonists and Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond. (Don’t count on the media showing up if the militia boys hang on until summer, because it’s going to be 100+ degrees and miserable then.)

The Hammonds have tried to distance themselves from their armed supporters and they’ve reported to Terminal Island in San Pedro, California to begin serving their sentences. Still the militia boys, led by the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, hold firm against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The occupiers consider themselves True Patriots, continuing the Revolutionary War spirit and fighting against an oppressive government determined to strip citizens of their rights and freedom.

The Feds are trying to ignore the militia in hopes they’ll get bored and go home, saying that it’s a matter for local law enforcement and that the FBI is only “monitoring” the situation.

While there are some actual veterans of military service caught up in the militia movement, most of its leaders have never set foot in a recruitment office and couldn’t have qualified anyway.

Still, if you ask these guys, they’re organized fighting units dedicated to protecting the First and Second Amendments. If you think it through, things get a little dicey. If the militias actually start their war against the government, who are they going to be fighting? Granted, it won’t be the Army or Marines on U.S. soil, but those FBI and ATF and local law enforcement agents sure will include a lot of military veterans.

Do you have sympathy for the guys in the militia movement? Are they the “well regulated” militias described in the Second Amendment? Or are they military wannabes who got a little carried away down at the shooting range? Sound off!

  • sgtnam67

    2d Amendment gives the right to bear arms &an organized militia is also mentioned in the constitution. It doesn’t mention that this equates to military service.State militias eventually transformed into State National Guards which come under both the Governor & federal jurisdiction.

    • J Pickett

      That is not entirely true, When the Militia Act was again amended just prior to WW1 which did create the Modern National Guard, (basically stating state militia units would receive standardized equipment/weapons and training, if states agreed to transition into the Guard and structure them in accordance with the US Army TO&E’s) there was a provision made that allowed states the retain units in their own state Militia’s. Those units would receive no federal money and or equipment. While most states transitioned all of their militia units, several states did not and retained some units within their own militia charters. And for the record the National Guard only falls under federal authority after their states Governor releases them. That’s called being transferred from Title 32 status to Title 10 status.

      • Leon Suchorski

        True the state governors have rule over their state’s National Guard, but when the Federal government calls them up, the governor can not stop them from going. They are being called for the national interest, and that supercedes the state interest every time. The only time that the governor’s word holds more weight, is when he/she does not want national forces in their stat, as in Katrina.


    “couldn’t have qualified anyway” – ?

    Based on……….what? Most of these guys look pretty old and over weight – now. How do you know they were out of shape ten or twenty years ago? Do you assume they are not qualified based on their beliefs? Do you assume they are crazy so the army would not have let them in? Ever heard of a guy named Bergdahl? He was pretty crazy too.

    Pretty broad statement.

    • shay simmons

      The common denominators (besides a love of weaponry) seem to be an utter lack of common sense, an overweening belief in entitlement, a refusal to accept anyone who isn’t just like themselves, and an inability to submit to authority.

      Not very good military material.

    • Johnnie Walker

      I think mental instability would disqualify many so-called “patriots”.

  • RealWorld

    Technically, to be considered a militia you must be empowered by
    U.S. Code › Title 10 › Subtitle A › Part I › Chapter 13 › § 311
    10 U.S. Code § 311 – Militia: composition and classes

    so NO THEY ARE NOT, THEY ARE ILLEGALLY OCCUPYING FEDERAL LAND. I am all for standing up for whats right, but do it the right way, not like this.

    • Robert

      well do tell us what you think they could have done to do it the right way, when they had already tried doing it the right way look at all they did try and got NO WERE ,so now tell me what do you think they did not do first

      • Brian

        You didn’t mean they “got NO WERE” you meant they weren’t allowed to get away with a crime. The ranchers went thru the court system and had their side heard in a court of law (I.e., the right way) and the court found them guilty. Case closed or next step court of appeals. That’s our system. You don’t like it then you can leave.

      • Leon Suchorski

        Hey, Realworld is not an amicus curii. It is up to them to get a lawyer to get things correct.


      Before you make the statement please go read the 1845 Alabama v US decision on the use of public lands and who controls public lands.

    • John Galtier

      Sorry, but that land CANNOT be federally-owned. Have you EVER actually read the constitution? There is a only a very few types of land that thee feds are Constitutionally allowed to own; and bird Sanctuaries are are not one of those limited categories!
      The Rule of Law, and the US Constitution, demonstrate that federal actions concerning their clams of ownership of land is in almost ALL instances illegal, Unconstitutional, and frankly criminal!
      REAL, you might want to quit being a sheeple and start defending the freedoms that our forefathers bled and died to pass on to us!

  • TIm Marquart

    I suppose they are serving their cause, but unfortunately that is only important to them and those that support that particular cause. If that qualifies as serving, so to does the “service” rendered by anyone who dedicates themselves to a cause. Doing something based off of whoever version of patriotism that you choose to believe doesn’t make you a warrior, or even correct. Really, the only “service” being performed here is self-service, both to the cause and to the ego.

    • Leon Suchorski

      Go Huey, Louie, and Dewey

  • reader1

    Only after he left. These people are stirring up a heap of trouble not just for themselves but for everyone with guns. And yeah most of these dude probably couldnt run a quarter mile. Just abunch of idiots with ar-15s. Who watch to much fox new and sit at home and never leave.

  • Snow

    They meet traditional and constitutional requirements for a militia. Why not? Our founding fathers were not big on a large standing military during peace time. These gentlemen are as much a militia as were the original minutemen at Concord and Lexington. The original minutemen were farmers and shopkeepers. Could all of them have run a quarter mile, were some maybe a little over weight, or middle aged? Why the need to run, is that so you can run away rather than stand your ground , or advance.

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    There is nothing about seizing public property, or picking up a rifle to avoid paying grazing fees on public land, that remotely approaches “military service.” The appropriate descriptions are grand larceny, menacing and breach of the peace.

  • Meme

    Not supporting there actions or condoning them but men like these bought our country it’s freedom. It was the minute men that gave us a chance against the British empire. They believe there actions To be in the best intrest of our country they may or may not be. But never the less these men hold the oath of enlistment to heart I admire them for it. weather or not they have taken it them selves. No matter what every man woman that has worn the uniform has taken the same oath. A peice of paper first and for most. “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” words no one should ever forget! Words every man and woman has spoken that has served. My two cents that is all:)

    • cib101

      That ishr also swears allegiance to the president.

      • cib101

        Oath sorry

  • BixlerB

    What a load a hooey! Geezers playin army.

    • wi militia

      I’m 31. Far from a geezer.

  • Wyrmswyck

    Are they military. Do they obey orders from the CIC and his designated Commanders? No. However in the Bill of Rights. At the very Bottom in fine print. It says that every American has the right to be STUPID!

    • Tedtanker

      How about defending the Constitution? They swore an oath to that against enemies foreign and domestic.

  • Mitsuo Togegawa

    Both views are valid. it will be for the victors to deside after the second civil war is over with.

  • LIAM

    These guys are Soup-sandwiches!! The are NOT military and are not professionals. Some may be Veterans, but that does not make them military in any way!!

  • McQuate

    If you can’t do it legally, use force? That’s so un-American.

  • JJMurray

    Even if you want to consider them militias under the Constitution – which there is plenty of precedent to consider them that – it really doesn’t matter. So what if they are considered “militia” what does that actually gain them? Unless the government officially recognizes them there is no interaction or coordination and they simply operate independently and remain subject to all the laws they were subject to as civilians. This is how militias work int he US. You can form one, train it, drill, it, equip it, but everyone in it is still just a US citizen UNTIL the militia is “called up”.

  • SFC Retired

    Sgtnam67 hit the nail on the head. There are still some state militas like the Texas State Guard but they answer to the Governor or Adjutant General of their state. But unless serving under Title 10 or 32 time does not count

  • George Shaw

    No but hell no, most of them are looking for glory, no more than that.

  • J Pickett

    Not getting into the wrong or right aspect of this, but the last time I checked, King Phillips war, The French and Indian War, The Revolution, The War of 1812, The Whiskey Rebellion, Shay’s Rebellion, The Mexican American War, The Civil War, The Spanish American War and Many others where all fought primarily with Militia units. Most of the Time the Militia units out performed the regular forces/ then later Federal Forces. Food for thought

  • Dick Lancaster

    A militia is referenced in the 2nd Amendment and in that context it is a vital part of a “free state.” The government of the free state is charged with protecting the state from external threats. When the government IS the threat to the free state, a well regulated (meaning armed, equipped and vigilant) militia becomes necessary. Since the government controls the military (and the National Guard) and IS the threat, a militia is, by definition, opposes the the military of the rouge state and therefore cannot be considered part of it.

  • John

    I guess the “Militia” should register itself as one an LLC and with local law authorities nearest State and Federal law agency’s. Then petition local civil authority for recognition. This all being done if not recognized it should go to the Courts. If it is well regulated and swears allegiance to the US Constitution why not officially recognize them? I’d rather fight a 20 year old in prime shape than a older overweight militia woodsman on his home turf.

    • Rick Osmon


  • JohnD

    Really? They are not true militia formed like minutemen. They are a selfish twisted interpretation of their right to disobey laws they don’t like! Instead of voting them out or legal change, they revolt! They need jail time not military time! The FBI should hit these criminals like the Wounded Knee uprising, remember that one or the Branch Davidians!

    • randymack

      sounds like you don’t approve of our original Militia rising up in rebellion over laws they didn’t like too….

  • Elguapo102

    Our present commie president does not believe in the US Constitution, but the fact is that the US of A is largely based on our US Constitution which includes the Right to keep and bear arms. A true militia has to be properly organized and efficiently controlled by a leadership hierarchy not loosely gathered group of upset individuals. I think that they are more armed and concerned neighbors than militia.

    • TLP

      The only un-Patriot is you.
      These people are thugs.
      The President isn’t a communist.

  • mecanico

    You’re are freakin kidding right?

  • Jham


  • puresaltA1A

    What a troll of an article lol…. anyways did the government over step its bounds… yes it did mr. government teat reader reading this lol.. it charged this father and son as terrorists… which was a far stretched at best to cover them… seriously… burning off underbrush and accidently burn 100 acres of government land out in the middle of no where… guess what… the grass grew back… but the real burner is these guys were released early… and a vindictive federal judge came back and sentence them to another 4 years on a whim…. without a trial or them doing anything else wrong…. are the militia part of serving…. no but it is made up of tons and tons of vets…. each militia is part of its own… I was a part of one back in college… all college guys form every branch service that went out and crossed trained each other, we were all bests of friends till this day, nothing like the above militia… have nothing against them… just lots of plates and milk jugs never made it home though ;p

  • TeXan1111

    Of course this should be military experience. The 2nd amendment says it all. ” A well regulated Militia” enough said to protect our second amendment.

  • Niels

    After all is said and done, Native Americans (a.k.a -Indians) have more of a complaint about public lands than these guys do. A militia is made up of local residents, not individuals from other states.

  • RetiredCDR

    No, membership in a (Private) Militia does not count as military service.

    Current federal law 10 USC Sec 311 states that the militia consists of “all able-bodies males of ages 17 to 45 who are, or have made declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States.” (There are some exceptions stated…)

    There are two recognized militia categories under federal law.
    The Organized Militia (National Guard).
    The Unorganized Militia (everyone else who meets the 10 USC 311 definition).

    There is a third group of “private militias”. They possess no legal status under law in their organizational membership but, as individuals, may qualify as a member of one the two recognized militia categories under federal law.

    These individuals are not meeting the definition of “Unorganized Militia” for military service under Federal Law since that requires submitting to the orders of Federal (President) or State (Governor) leadership.

  • TeXan1111

    We suspect that the Fox News/Bundy militia will eventually count but only if Ted Cruz is president as he hates america. Has he released his birth certificate yet??

  • Robert

    Militias are completely legal and let’s not forget the private militias that took part in the revolutionary war and from what I understand to a lessor extent in the war of 1812. Plus all the private security contractors the state department and pentagon employ are private militias. They are just employed by a corporation. I’m not saying that occupying federal lands at this time is the right thing but I fully support people’s right to form a militia.

  • Robert

    well i will tell you this right now our government dose not want a well regulated Militia for each state that will fallow the constitution and fight for the people of that state but we don’t so what we have is what we have it is on us if our government had protected the people and not be the ones we need protection from this would have never happen.

  • Mark

    I find it interesting that you jump to the conclusion that many of these militia “couldn’t have qualified” for the military and thus why they haven’t served. That’s quite an assumption.

  • Paul

    Wanna B’s and are unable to join a real military unit.

  • ACE

    They are not regulated by the military and they dont have a office in the pentagon, they are not a Service branch or anything like the army. They serve a purpose that rarely needs to be served, last ditch deffence of the nations home front. They are in their rights for peaceful protest, but declaring war or threatening any violence against anyone would make them a hostile force in my book. But granted taking fed land with guns is not peaceful and it aint protest. They need to take action or go home. hopefully the latter.

  • Mark

    These people are not a militia, they are military wannabes illegally seizing federal property. They should be arrested and punished for illegal seizure of federal land and for impersonating REAL soldiers or law enforcement officials.

    Should a group of armed First Nations members to seize the militia’s property as it was illegally taken from Native Americans in the past? No, follow the laws of the land that protect and provide for us all. I’m sorry that these criminals aka militia feel they are above the law, but essentially they are just arrogant self indulgent bullies.

  • David

    No. Just like playing in a KISS cover-band doesn’t make you Gene Simmons.

  • P adams

    No I don’t think so, I understand their point,but they haven’t had the right training

  • jackye

    a bunch of wannabes with guns frighten me more then terrorists with a cause and military training. used to be using weapons against your own people was a crime.,.or so i thought

  • LVDM

    This does not count as Military Service; however, it does fall within the guidelines of a “Well Regulated Militia” as described in the 2nd Amendment.

    “Well Regulated” simply means that all members have the same basic equipment and training. At the time 2A was written this simply meant that the members all had firearms, power, wad, ball, clothing, could carry their own water and salt pork.

    The constitution describes the regulated and unregulated militias.

    The regulated Militias answer to the State and Federal Government and have become the National Guards or each state whereas the Unregulated Militias are made of those citizens that have banded together to form militia groups that do not answer to the State or Federal Government.

    Groups like the widely known Southern Michigan Volunteer Militia; ,and the lesser known Las Vegas Desert Militia; ,fall into the “Unregulated Militia” category and answer only to themselves and the US Constitution.

    These groups are Constitutionally recognized as well as covered under US Federal Law under title 10 U.S. Code § 311 as well as Public Law 113-86.

  • Robert

    The guy in the photo happens to be myself, so i believe I’m qualified to speak to this. 1st off the question is somewhat invalid, but anyways….
    A. I’m retired military. 22 years. You’re welcome.
    B. Yes, i can still sprint 1/4 mile in full kit (about 30 lbs) I may be graying, but I can still qualify expert, even after a stress test.
    C. I’m a member of Idaho III%. We are NOT a militia. We are a self regulated group that stands for individual rights and constitutional freedoms. There are like groups in most states in the union.
    D. We are part of the of the Pacific Patriots Network (PPN). Representatives from most groups in the network are there providing a buffer between the Bundys and law enforcement, (Especially the FBI)
    E. If you are commenting about this from your comfy computer chair or living room, and haven’t actually gotten involved to get this country back on track, then shut up.

    E-7 USAF (Retired)

  • RetiredCDR

    The groups mentioned above – Southern Michigan Volunteer… Las Vegas Desert Militia… do not meet the definition of “Unorganized Militia” under Federal Law (10 USC 311). They are actually “private militias”. At best they may meet a definition of “Unorganized Reserve Militia” as used in the Texas Constitution. But that is a separate, individual, “State” issue – not Federal.

    That is not to say they are illegal. They may, or may not be. In and of itself there is nothing illegal in exercising 2nd Amendment Rights. That is not a discussion I intend to participate in here. But they do not have legal standing as a “militia” under Federal Law. Most members of “private militias” are also likely members of the Unorganized Militia as defined by 10 USC 311. But that is a separate issue from their private organizational membership.

    But don’t take my word – or anyone else who has posted here.
    Research it! This will get you started – google (and wikipedia) are your friend.
    Most of these are very short.
    Interesting article in wikipedia under “Militia (United States)”
    Militia Act of 1792 (+ 1795 and 1903 modifications)
    Title 10 USC 311 & 312
    Title 32 USC 313
    Your State Constitution (some States go has high as age 65 for State militia membership).

    The original Minutemen would have come under the current definition of “Unorganized Militia”. They were called to arms by their Governor and/or Congress. In some cases possibly their Mayor. The point being there was a recognized, government sanctioned, chain of command.

    I am a firm supporter of the 2nd Amendment.
    Your 18yo male college student will likely be surprised to hear that he is a member of the “Unorganized Militia of the United Staes” under Federal (and probably State) Law.

  • Harry early

    No, it’s a bunch of people who want to play soldier with others who were either kicked out of the service or were to chicken to join the 1%.

  • Tom L

    I spent two years in the Massachusetts State Guard after I retired from the Army. The precedence for the various states militaries, of which there were 33 or so at last count varies based on their individual state militia laws. MA has plenty. Three medium sized bokks in the law library. Oddly, for a state with a long militia history, MA has no Naval Militia. Unlike other border states and Alaska who still have one. They had 100 M16s in an Army depot somewhere in NH. Butwe had no arms room to put them in. There was also some attempts, successful I would say, to keep weapons out of the hands of the State Guard. For money purposes, we were still called the “Militia” because that is how we appeared in the state budget. the National Guard got the money. It was all politics though. The Ancient and Honorable Artillery, a private organization, got to go to the range and qualify once a year on the state’s tab while we (State Guard) had to either sneak in with a host unit or go to a civil range. I ended my stint with them after that. I did have to be formerly discharged fronm the State Guard and was given a service ribbon for it.

  • jimships
  • Russ

    An oganized Militia is not the military not today or in the past. A militia is an organized group of citizens that band together to protect their rights under the constitution primarily from big government to ensure a tyrannical government don’t run all over its citizens. Military is organized to protect and defend the constitution against foreign agression and to wage war to protect our nations interests. The military is a paid body of highly trained members that volunteer to serve in the various branches as a uniformed military force. A militia is a non paid group of members that come together and train as free citizens to protect their communities and states from federal agression and foreign agression just like they did during the revolution.

  • Art

    I think “well regulated militia” should be defined.
    Is wearing camouflage, armed to the hilt, threatening civil war (while begging for Twinkies and warm underwear), and trashing a wildlife sanctuary the defining features of our forefathers intentions?
    I repeated “Well REGULATED!”

  • Ron