Judith Zuckert’s letter of Sept. 10, after quoting the Second Amendment, asks the question, “Are there any state militias, well-regulated or otherwise?”
Yes, there are.
The body of the Constitution addresses militias in three places. In Article I, Section 8, Powers Granted to Congress, subsection (15) lists: “To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.” Subsection (16) lists: “To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline provided by Congress.” In Article II, The Executive Branch, section 2, Subsection (1) provides that: “The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States.”
In other words, today we call it the National Guard. Congress authorized the Guard in each state and specified its training. Each state selected the Guard’s officers, and carried out the training. In those days, they had to provide their own weapons.
A law in 1916 put the Guard entirely under federal control, provided federal funding and specified conditions when it could be called into federal service, when the president is its commander in chief.
Most of the time, we see the Guard in times of disasters such as floods or earthquakes, when they distribute food and water and provide other services. But George Washington called them out in 1794 to put down a rebellion of Pennsylvania farmers who objected to paying a federal tax on the production of whiskey. Several presidents called out state National Guard units to enforce civil rights laws in the 1960s.
Jan Miller, Salt Lake City