A role unawares; how state law makes you member of Tennessee militia

In World War II, state government organized what is now the Tennessee Defense Force to provide emergency manpower and a “force multiplier.”

State government organized what is now the Tennessee Defense Force to provide emergency manpower and a “force multiplier” during the U.S. government’s global expansion period in World War II.

By David Tulis / Noogaradio AM 1240 FM 101.1

The armed Americans defending a Nevada rancher bring up an important question for state and local economy here in Tennessee. When a state is being browbeaten or threatened by the good people in Washington, how does a local area prevent an explosion of violence? How does it prevent oppression — or invasion? How does it maintain security, which necessarily implies the presence or use of armed might?

The greatest threat to you is not terrorism or an enemy overseas, but from an international jurisdiction known as the United States. Liberty and security in the states has long been intimidated by the “security” and social management claims of Washington.

An important problem in the question of keeping public order when armed civil strife threatens is that addressed by Edwin Vieira Jr. He is a constitutional and monetary scholar whose many  books contribute to the cause of liberty. Mr. Vieira’s main argument in a 2012 history of state militias is that the second amendment right to bear arms is reduced when envisioned primarily as a personal right. The right to bear arms, in his dissent, is corporate and public. As the federal system collapses, a revitalized state and local militia concept will help maintain public tranquility during the long devolutionary and independence phase.

Mr. Viera’s The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of ““the Militia of the Several States”” is a 2,304-page book with 6,500 footnotes and endnotes that says defense of states’ rights even today is undergirded by organized and trained civilian militias. Being a mere grouping of individuals, the armed supporters of rancher Cliven Bundy do not hold to the original and organic conception of an organized and armed populace defying tyranny and restoring justice.

Tennessee situation

In the law of my home state, if you are an able-bodied man able to serve Tennessee in a military capacity, you are already in the militia.

The Tennessee constitution envisions an organized and an unorganized militia. References in the constitution to the militia are to the body of citizens who may be called into service by the governor to depend the state in rebellion or from invasion.

The governor is commander of “the Army and Navy of this state, and of the Militia” (duties of the governor, Article 2, Section 5).

The army and navy refer to the more organized military bodies — the Tennessee Defense Force, formed in 1941, and the now federalized national guard, each of which in the Tennessee code annotated are given their own chapters.

Defense by everyman

The militia is given its own chapter as well in the state code (TCA 58-1-301).

The militia is made up of “all persons of this state subject to military duty or draft into the military service.” The statute outlines how the governor controls a draft “of enrolled citizens into the military service.”

Mr. Militiaman, don’t make light of your extremist status. You could land in hot water. If you are “of” this state and “subject to the call into activity military service of this state” and don’t show up, you are considered a deserter “and will be treated accordingly,” the code asserts.

The population pool for the militia is the body of citizens protected by Article 1 rights. These are folks the framers of Tennessee’s people-government covenant protected by a Tennessee “2nd amendment.”

Constitutional promise

Because the constitution forbids a standing army, it envisions a sitting one. Hence the two organized militias — and the unorganized one.

Section 24. That the sure and certain defense of a free people, is a well regulated militia; and, as standing armies in times of peace are dangerous to freedom, they ought to be avoided as far as circumstances and safety of the community will admit.

The right to bear arms recognizes the people’s authority to act militarily “for their common defense.” Their covenant with state government entails that they be “well regulated.”

The constitution says in Article 1, section 28, “That the citizens of this State have a right to keep and bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime.”

The general assembly has the authority, in other words, to regulate the wearing of pistols, which are not viewed as military weapons, but personal safety weapons.

All hardware lawful

Tennessee law recognizes the militia’s ability to arm itself with the latest weapons of warfare. That would include grenade launchers, flamethrowers, machine guns, armored cars and perhaps weaponized drones.

“The right to bear arms for common defense does not mean the right to bear them ordinarily or commonly for individual defense, but has reference to the right to bear arms for the defense of the community against invasion or oppression,” states Tennessee Jurisprudence (TennJur), a basic reference encyclopedia on Tennessee law.

The words “bear arms,” have reference to their military use, and are not employed to mean wearing them about the person as part of the dress. As the object for which the right to keep and bear arms is secured, is of a general and public nature, to be exercised by the people in a body for their common defense, so the arms, the right to keep which is secured, are such as are usually employed in civilized warfare, and that constitute the ordinary military equipment.

That citizens train in the use of military arms is also envisioned in Tennessee’s constitutional system of protected liberty.

“The citizen has, at all times, the right to keep the arms of modern warfare, and to use them in such manner as they may be capable of being used, without annoyance and hurt to others, in order that he may be trained and efficient in their use” (Andrews v State, 50 Tenn 93 Heisk.) 165 (1871), according to TennJur.

Courts recognize that the right to keep arms necessarily involves the right to purchase them, fix them, buy ammo for them, and carry them to and from home.

Tennessee citizen militiamen took part in the War of 1812 against the British and Indians. (Photo Tennessee department of state)

Tennessee citizen militiamen took part in the War of 1812 against the British and Indians. (Photo Tennessee department of state)

But Washington over the past century has eviscerated federal government in lieu of a national one. Only with the greatest vigor and courage can people in Nevada, Illinois, Tennessee and other states reanimate their lost rights in their old forms to defy Washington and restore balance and a sustainable union.

Sources: Greg Yates, “Tennessee Defense Force Collection, 1941-1991, archive, Tennessee Department of State, a brief history of the TDF

James Jay Carafano and Jessica Zuckerman, “The 21st-Century Militia: State Defense Forces and Homeland Security,” Heritage Foundation, Oct. 8, 2010, backgrounder No. 2474. Twenty-three states and territories have organized militias, or SDFs.


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