militia movement

Constitutional militia movement

The modern constitutional militia movement, the constitutionalist wing of the "militia movement" in the United States, became active in the mid 1990s in response to outrage about the violent confrontation at Ruby Ridge, the Waco Siege and gun control legislation. The movement is composed largely of veterans, libertarians, and Second Amendment advocates who share a common motivation of anger at federal government actions and also a set of ideals associated with the values of the militia they see embodied in the Constitution.


The roots of the modern Constitutional militia movement is found in the revolutionary nature of the militia with precedents in United States colonial history, found in the Articles of Confederation, the U.S. Constitution, and subsequent federal legislation. This early republican militia tradition included an armed unorganized populace with the function to safeguard against the tyranny of government and standing armies. The modern constitutional movement began as early as 1958, although, in this early phase, the movement was based ideologically with the white supremacist Christian Identity militia movement mixed with constitutionalist elements. With the advent of the neo-militia movement of the 1990s, beginning in 1992, the constitutionalist elements became more dominant, although they were still mixed with some underlying Christian Identity themes.

Beginning circa 1960, a fear of Communism was prevalent in the United States in light of communist victories in China, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America. This concern was shared by members of the militia movement who feared a collectivist takeover of the United States. The constitutionalist militia purpose draws upon the old Colonial role of the militias as defenders of America against foreign invaders generally, and specifically against collectivist forces infiltrating and dominating within the United States. These militias believe in the sanctity of the U.S. Constitution, and that certain groups are conspiring to destroy America. Unlike the Christian Identity militias, the Constitutionalist militias generally tend to not cast blame on ethnic, racial or religious lines, but rather blame the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, and the New World Order.


Conceptually, a citizen's militia has been defined as a constitutionalist private army meeting regularly to practice combat skills and discuss weapons. The militia is defined as a social group with a distinct territory, being anti-governmental in outlook, and having definite opinions regarding use of force to further militia goals. It may have an offensive, paramilitary, and/or defensive orientation depending on circumstances.

Operational features include.:

  1. Training in combat scenarios and weaponry skills in mock actions and maneuvers.
  2. Has an identifiable territory in which members reside.
  3. Bases organization philosophies on anti-government rhetoric.
  4. Development of contingency plans in case of governmental provocation.


A study of typology of the constitutionalist ideology militia movement identifies four types

  1. The Open Constitutionalist, with the Cascade Brigade as an example.
  2. Constitutionalist/Command Structure, with the Alabama Constitutional Militia and the Michigan Militia as examples.
  3. Constitutionalist/Cell Structure, with the Militia of Montana and the Texas Constitutional Militia as examples.
  4. Underground/ No Public Contact, with the Sons of Liberty (Alabama) as example


From the inception of the modern movement there has been controversy over whether the movement was an important part of a complete response to many important threats, or a threat in itself. Both protagonists and antagonists have emerged in all parts of society.

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