The American Militia

"In the United States the case is altogether different. The People, not the Government, possess the absolute sovereignty." James Madison, Report on the Virginia Resolutions, 1800.


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Constitutional Basis of the American Militia.

The English word 'militia' derives from the Latin root of 'miles', which means 'soldier'.

The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were honors students of ancient and modern history. In writing the Constitution and setting up the social institutions they carefully considered the lessons of the past from the Classical histories of Greece and Rome. They also took into account the Old Testament Biblical history of Israel from the time of the Judges to the end of Solomon. They even considered more modern lessons from the 18th Century English Civil War.

In each case the same lesson stood out. The citizen soldier is the foundation of all free republics. In the ancient republics there was no difference between being a soldier and being a citizen. To the Framers of the Constitution the two nouns "militia" and "people" merely described the same groups in the different conditions of war and peace. This armed citizenry was and remains the most proven safeguard against external foreign invasion and internal domestic tyranny.

The citizen soldier was the cause of Hannibal's defeat in the Second Carthaginian War. Hannibal won tremendous victories, including the Battle of Canae where he destroyed 50,000 Roman legionaries although greatly outnumbered. But this was still only a fraction of Rome's citizenry, or military manpower. The Senate and People of Rome were unbowed by this disaster. They called out fresh legions and placed them under the command of Fabian. Hannibal lost the war.

In the later times of the Roman Republic ultra rich conspiratorial elites (of a type the corporate mass media endlessly assure us do not exist today) plotted to undermine the liberties of the Roman citizens and to subvert the Roman Republic. One of their methods was to substitute smaller standing armies of paid professionals for citizen soldier formations drawn from the whole body of the citizenry.

In the so-called Greek city-state democracies the condition was the same. Only men who served as soldiers in the phalanx were eligible to vote as citizens in the assembly.

The father of Alexander the Great, Phillip II of Macedon, also known as the Hegemon, began suppressing this practice as potentially subversive of his dictatorial rule.

The Old Testament records a similar devolution of liberty when the regime substituted small numbers of paid professionals for armed citizen soldiers. In the time of the Judges the army of the 12 tribes of Israel was composed of every able bodied man. Later the second king of the tribe of Judah, Solomon, suppressed this citizen army and substituted in its place a small standing force of cavalry. Unsurprisingly the king of Judah also developed into a greedy tyrant who crushed the people with heavy taxes. At his death the 10 tribes of northern Israel revolted against his son Rehoboam and ended the united monarchy. Left with only a tiny army, scant resources and no army of the people Judah was then rapidly conquered by an Egyptian king called "Shishak."

In the 17th Century the English military dictator Oliver Cromwell (the same man who readmitted the Jews to England) came to supreme power at the head of a professional army called "The Ironsides." The problem of bringing these Ironsides under control comprises the entire history of the later part of the English Civil War. After this lesson the English Parliament refused to support large standing armies. The English Parliament instead relied on a Militia composed of the free citizens with a small standing military force to delay invaders (should the Navy fail to stop an invasion) until the Militia could mobilize.

The Framers of the Constitution derived a number of lessons from the above episodes. Their first conclusion was standing. Armies were the ever ready tools of ambitious tyrants and dictators and always a grave threat to the lives and liberties of the people. Their second lesson was those standing armies were a sometime necessary evil that could only be controlled with certainty by a far larger militia based on the whole people. Their third lesson was the only sure security of a free nation lay in a military power based on the entire citizen population capable of bearing arms and nothing less than that.

The Militia in The Federalist Papers

The Federalist Papers were originally newspaper essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison, three of the 39 men who signed the Constitution in Philadelphia. These essays were addressed to "The People of New York" as part of the ratification drive for the original Constitution. The three authors collectively signed themselves as "Publius".

Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist No. 29 on the militia

``The project of disciplining all the militia of the United States is as futile as it would be injurious, if it were capable of being carried into execution. A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, or even a week, that will suffice for the attainment of it. To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss. It would form an annual deduction from the productive labor of the country, to an amount which, calculating upon the present numbers of the people, would not fall far short of the whole expense of the civil establishments of all the States. To attempt a thing which would abridge the mass of labor and industry to so considerable an extent, would be unwise: and the experiment, if made, could not succeed, because it would not long be endured. Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year."

One thing is utterly certain from Hamilton's statements in The Federalist No. 29. 'All the militia' is comprised of the whole body of the citizenry and lesser part. The Militia is simply another name for the People in their role as citizen-soldiers. The phrase 'well-regulated militia' appears well prior to the drafting of the Second Amendment.

This is a happy usage since it clearly defines what is Constitutionally meant by this hitherto divisive phrase. What does Hamilton mean here by "well-regulated militia"? He means well trained and equipped as individuals as well as units. His last quoted sentence above unmistakably envisions guranteeing the entire citizenry is armed. In the context of The Federalist Papers the phrase "well-regulated" in connection with the militia has a completely opposite meaning from what the modern tyrants in Washington and their marketplace mob claim it to be.

"Well-regulated" applies to federal, state, local and private efforts to strengthen the militia. This phrase grants no power to any government in the United States to try to intentionally weaken that portion of the militia's strength arising naturally from the individual efforts of its members, who are the whole People. Governments may fail in their Constitutional duties to properly form and lead the militia. Governments may not go in the opposite direction and attempt to suppress the militia.

The only Constitutional "gun control" for the government is making certain every citizen has arms. In the 1980s the city government of Kennesaw, Georgia resumed its Constitutional duties towards the militia. The municipal council there enacted an ordinance requiring all adult citizens to procure and maintain a firearm with suitable ammunition in their home. This government was rewarded for its loyalty to the Constitutional peoples' militia with an instant dramatic drop in the crime rates.

In contrast the government of Australia recently disarmed the entire citizenry on the claim this step would create a safer environment for the citizenry. The natural order of Nature's God instantly punished this Marxist rebellion against the old English Common Law. Instead of dropping crime rates, and especially gun crime rates, soared. The proverb "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" was proven true once again. This proof was made at the cost of the citizens and to the profit of the criminals.

Better "well-regulated" parts, called "select corps" in the 1780s, of the militia may exist and are again increasingly prudent for the government to nurture. But such "select corps" are not the entire militia. The federal government does not possess any power at all to arbitrarily designate a better equipped and trained portion as being the entire militia and then suppress the remainder of the militia by falsely claiming this select corps is the only "well-regulated" Constitutional militia.

Hamilton continued to say in No. 29:

``But though the scheme of disciplining the whole nation must be abandoned as mischievous or impracticable; yet it is a matter of the utmost importance that a well-digested plan should, as soon as possible, be adopted for the proper establishment of the militia. The attention of the government ought particularly to be directed to the formation of a select corps of moderate extent, upon such principles as will really fit them for service in case of need. By thus circumscribing the plan, it will be possible to have an excellent body of well-trained militia, ready to take the field whenever the defense of the State shall require it. This will not only lessen the call for military establishments, but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.''

Hamilton again makes clear the interchangeability of 'militia' and 'nation' in Constitutional usage. And when Hamilton says "nation" he means the whole People. Nation in constitutional usage is not a synonym for "government". Five years later in the Militia Act of 1792 the government indeed directed its attention as soon as possible to the "formation of a select corps of moderate extent". The Framers, now Presidents, Governors, Senators and Congressmen, defined this select corps of the militia as all able bodied white male citizens between the ages of 18 and 45. They listed certain specified exceptions such as members of Congress, the Vice-President, postal and transit workers.

Hamilton here is discussing practical military policy when he talks about a "select corps". He is not defining the total extent of the militia as something less than the whole nation. Were a government to attempt to embody every member of the militia and march them out of a district the civil society would collapse. Crops would fail, children would starve and women would be left vulnerable to the predations of the "merciless savages" mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.

Even standing bodies of state troops are not considered to be militia in The Federalist. See Hamilton in The Federalist No. 28:

"Suppose the State of New York had been inclined to re-establish her lost jurisdiction over the inhabitants of Vermont, could she have hoped for success in such an enterprise from the efforts of the militia alone? Would she not have been compelled to raise and to maintain a more regular force for the execution of her design? If it must then be admitted that the necessity of recurring to a force different from the militia."

We see here that even individual STATES cannot raise a standing body of troops, claim this body to be the state's "well-regulated" militia and then suppress all other parts of the state militia. Hamilton here is contemplating the possible future existence of standing state military units. This is another remarkable display of foresight by a Framer. Such state military companies later appeared in different states at different times. And yet despite anticipating their appearance Hamilton still differentiated such forces in his mind from the "militia".

In The Federalist No. 46

James Madison made crystal clear the intended Constitutional role of the militia in controlling the federal government and its standing armies in the event of attempts at establishing unconstitutional tyrannies:

"Extravagant as the supposition is, let it however be made. Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of."

Madison's Military and Militia Mathematics

The total population of the United States according to the Census of 1790 was 3,929,214.

Now go back a few years to 1787 and take the total population of the United States. Remove the non-citizen Negroes and then divide by two to deduct white females. Now subtract the boys too young and the elderly men. We can see where Madison obtained his "near half a million" militia size. It was the maximum number of citizens he considered could be practically mobilized at that time for such a supreme crisis as a tyrannical or alien usurpation occurring in the federal government. Madison repeats Hamilton's view on what the militia is. To reiterate, the militia is comprised of the whole body of the citizenry and nothing less.

With our current historical perspective, Madison's calculations show incredible accuracy. Madison stated "one hundredth" (1%) of the population was the maximum number the federal government could sustain in a standing military force in peacetime. Let's check Madison's theory against modern experimental results. In 1980 the total census of the U.S.A. was 226,000,000.

In that year of Cold War the Department of Defense active duty end strength for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard was 2.2 million. This was precisely Madison's predicted percentage of 1% of the population as the maximum regular force the federal government would be capable of sustaining in peacetime.

Madison also gave another mathematical ratio in The Federalist No. 46. This was the relative size of the practically mobilizable Constitutional militia compared to the regular army. Madison's militia/army ratio was 500,000/30,000 or 16.67 militiamen to 1 regular soldier. Applying this ratio to the 1980 federal active duty force number yields a 1980 Madisonian militia strength of at least 35 million militiamen (2.1 million x 16.67). It's reasonable to argue that in extending sovereign franchise to women the United States simultaneously enlarged the militia. If true this extension doubled the 1980 size to at least 70 millions of militia. The only possible source of such immense numbers is the People themselves.

A modern red warning flag rises when we compare Madison's 1787 militia strength of 500,000, drawn from a total population of less than four million, to the size of the Army National Guard today. This modern "Army National Guard" numbers less than 250,000 compared to a population around 270,000,000 in the Year 2001 A.D. It is less than half the size of the standing regular army. In 1980 the Army National Guard numbered about 350,000 compared to a regular army of over 770,000. This was also less than half the size of the regular army.

Whatever this modern Army National Guard is, it is clearly something other than what Hamilton, Madison and Jay meant by their usage of 'militia' in The Federalist. They unequivocally showed in No. 46 it would be mathematically impossible for the federal government's standing army to ever outnumber the militia. Yet based on some people's explanations of the militia and the Second Amendment here are two instances of the federal army apparently outnumbering the 'militia' 2:1. The entire proposition is false. The argument starts from a defective understanding of what the American militia is.

The Militia in the Constitution of the United States of America

The Constitution did not establish the militia. The militia existed prior to the ratification of the Constitution. The Constitution itself recognizes the prior independent existence of the militia apart from the government of the United States. The Constitution merely delegates to the federal government certain powers solely designed to increase the effectiveness of the militia. The Constitution delegates no power to the federal government to limit the size of the militia to less than the entire people or to attempt to reduce its natural strength.

Attempts by the elements of the federal government to do this, so far from being Constitutional, actually mark the federal politicians and personnel concerned as having evolved into the illegitimate tyrannical regime that Madison designated as the enemy of the people/militia in The Federalist No. 46.

Article I of the Constitution delegates to Congress certain powers to support the militia:

"To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

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 prescribed by Congress;"

The Militia powers delegated to Congress are those of an 18th Century army Quartermaster General

The armies of the 18th Century had much smaller general staffs than modern forces. The usual single general staff officer was known as the Quartermaster General. The purpose of this officer was to reduce the administrative workload of the Commanding General. In doing this his clear duty was to take all possible measures to strengthen the combat power of the army. To carry out this duty the Quartermaster General's powers included prescribing courses of training for the army, specifying the tactical organization of the sub-units of the army and issuing regulations to implement the prescribed training and organization. The Quartermaster General was also responsible for ensuring the army was properly supplied. The Quartermaster General possessed no powers of command, such as appointing or dismissing subordinate officers of the army.

It hardly needs to be stated that no Quartermaster General ever possessed authority to intentionally restrict the combat power of the army below the level of available resource. Such an action would constitute sabotage and, depending on the circumstances and motivations, might also meet the Constitutional test for treason.

When considering an entity as large as the nation in arms, there was only possible national Quartermaster General consistent with the Constitution. This was Congress with its powers of taxation, appropriation and legislation. And like all other quartermasters general the Congress received no powers of command such as appointing or dismissing officers of the militia. Since the President's own authority over Congress is very limited absolute, it was necessary to restrict such Congressional meddling in militia commands by including a clause in the Constitution itself.

There is also no delegation of power to Congress "raise" militia. Congress is only empowered to "provide for calling forth" for national purposes an entity that already possesses an independent Constitutional existence entirely apart from the United States Congress. Neither the existence or the size of the militia is dependent on the whim of any U.S. Congress. This is a key distinction because Congress is empowered elsewhere in the Constitution to "raise" standing national armies and circumscribe their strength.

The Constitution only empowers Congress to assist in "organizing" the militia which already exists and indeed predates the U.S. Congress by many years. As will be seen in the first Militia Act of 1792, "organizing" refers to specifying the tactical formations of the nation's militia. In the 1792 Act Congress specified an organizational structure of divisions, brigades, regiments and companies. "Organizing" has nothing to do with "recruiting" militia manpower. American militiamen are never 'recruited'. They are born (and sometimes naturalized).

No power is delegated in Article I authorizing Congress to artificially limit the size of the militia to population segments that minority sectarian political interests may deem politically reliable. The Congress is authorized, and may be Constitutionally required (debatable ground), to take positive action to improve the combat power of the militia. The most reasonable reading is that Congress has a discretionary grant of power to exercise the functions of national quartermaster general whenever foreign or domestic conditions appear to make this a prudent precaution.

Congress however certainly has no power to do anything to reduce the strength of the militia that naturally arises from its base in the People. Nor does Congress possess any power to disarm the militia. Congress cannot even Constitutionally govern that part of the militia that is not called into actual federal service.

Of special interest here is the express prohibition on Congress from appointing officers in the militia. This authority is strictly reserved to the states . This reservation clause in fact strips the modern Army National Guard of any Constitutional claim to be a 'militia' of any nature, organized or unorganized.

There have recently been modern attempts to deny the nature of the militia and limit its size, such as this section of the United States Code in Title 10, Chapter 13, Section 311:

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are -

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia;


(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

This is merely a clumsy unconstitutional attempt at usurping the People's Constitutional status as the militia. This is not the first time the Congress has crawled out of its Constitutional playpen and it won't be the last. The Constitution itself and its "penumbras and emanations" defines the size of the militia as being the whole body of the people. No Congress has any authority to dictate a lesser size. In setting up this definition Congress also defied Article I of the Constitution which expressly confined its powers of "governing" the militia to that portion actually called into federal service. Congress equally lacks any power to expand the militia beyond its limits by including aliens who are not numbered among the citizens of the United States.

Article II of the Constitution relative to Presidential powers over the Militia merely states "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;

This is intended ( see Federalist No. 74 ) to ensure unity of command between the United States Army and those parts of the militia called out by the federal government in wartime. The President lacks Constitutional power to appoint officers in the militia, even when called into federal service. The appointment of officers in the militia is strictly reserved to the states by Article I.

As Commander-in-Chief he probably has a power to relieve militia officers for specific disciplinary offenses. Even when called into federal service he has no power to cashier them en masse simply to replace them with his own officers. His Constitutional power over militia personnel is in fact so limited that the Militia Act of 1792 stated that only militia officers could serve on courts-martial panels trying militiamen for disciplinary offenses.

I am well aware of the modern ceremonial rituals that maintain the charade of 'state appointment' of Army National Guard officers. I am equally aware of the parallel process of "federal recognition boards" of candidates for Army National Guard commissions. No one failing to obtain 'federal recognition' ever receives a state commission. This entire procedure at best is an honorary process by the states towards certain officers of the U.S. Army who are citizens of these states. At worst it's a violation of Constitutional separation of powers. The states are not authorized to meddle in the President's power to appoint officers of the U.S. Army.

The Army National Guard, though falsely labeled as state militias, is in fact a branch of the U.S. Army. When assembled for training these soldiers are paid by the Department of Defense Finance and Accounting Service with funds drawn from the U.S. Treasury. The soldiers' uniforms are identical to regular U.S. Army uniforms, even having the same tags reading "U.S. Army".

Here are three more breaches by the federal government of its Constitutional limitations if the modern claim is sustained that "the National Guard is the militia" or even "the organized militia".

1. The Constitution does not authorize the federal government to pay the militia to train.

2. Training the militia is strictly reserved to the states.

3. Congress has no power to "raise" the militia and thus establish the maximum strength of the militia (it does have such a power over the U.S. Army). Yet Congress annually fixes the authorized strength of the Army National Guard in the defense appropriations.

Congress may prescribe the "discipline" for training the militia but it does not currently do so. The President and his officers, not the Congress, prescribe the discipline for training the Army National Guard. He does the same and to many of the same standards for the U.S. Army. This is more proof the Army National Guard is merely part of the U.S. Army and is not any part of the militia.

On a slightly divergent note, here is a private association of individuals some of whom MAY possess valid state appointments as militia officers:

This private corporation does business as the "State Guard Association of the United States, Incorporated." The only portion of their essay that is correct is their definition of 'militia' as deriving from the Latin word for soldier.

Their assertions that they or their masters have any authority to limit the militia to less than its Constitutional size is patently false. Their authority as state militia officers, if any, only extends to those portions of the militia that legitimate state political authorities have specifically placed under their command. They and their adherents ARE NOT the entire militia. Their claims to the contrary merely mark them as a possible subversive group.

These false claims, and their apparent close relationship to the Army National Guard and the last Clinton Secretary of the Army, Louis Caldera, makes a further investigation into their activities essential. Such an investigation may reveal that a modern cabal inside the federal government has defied the Constitution again by meddling in the appointment of state militia officers. Patriotic citizens with further information on the activities and affiliations of this private corporation or its president, someone styling himself Brigadier General Subhi D. Ali, Tennessee, are urgently requested to write

It might be argued based on the original Constitution that among the President's powers as Commander-in-Chief is the implied power to order his forces or parts of them to lay down their arms and 'surrender'. The case is indeed overwhelming that under the original Constitution a President carrying the Congress with him did possess such power to successively "call forth" into federal service, disarm and dismiss in series selected portions of the militia, all in the space of days or even hours. Presidents who love the People and are united with them in spirit, mind, body and heritage would never do such a dastard deed. Others among the Framers and Ratifiers foresaw that not all Presidents would be like this. It was adjudged by them a certainty that a President and even entire Congresses alienated from the People would one day appear.

As a result of these concerns the first act of the new Congress was to write and send to the states a package of 10 Amendments now called the "Bill of Rights". These were ratified in 1791 and include:

The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

James Madison has been described as the "Father of the Constitution". He was a member of the Constitutional Convention that drafted the original document, a principal author of The Federalist Papers written to explain the proposed Constitution and later the fourth President of the United States of America. Madison once wrote:

"Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government."

We have not separated text from historical background. We have instead deeply searched out the historical background to put the text into its proper context. Thus armed we can now approach the final Constitutional provision concerning the militia. The single sentence of the Second Amendment reads thus:

A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

To reiterate:

A well-regulated (see The Federalist No. 29 for the Constitutional definition and usage of 'well-regulated') Militia (see The Federalist Nos. 28, 29 and 46 for the Constitutional definition of 'Militia') being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The meaning and intent of this simple sentence cannot be more plain. There is no paradox, no internal contradiction, no confusion of thought in this one sentence amendment. The Militia are the People in time of war while the People are the Militia in time of peace. The People cannot turn out as a "well-regulated" militia if they have no arms in their possession.

Combat effective and powerful ("well-regulated") militias must have arms. The militia being the entire People by another name, this amendment prohibits ANY level of American government from infringing on the People's right to personally possess and carry weapons. The simple reason is that such an action would reduce the combat power of the militia (i.e. cause it to be less 'well-regulated').

It is within the government's power to require every citizen to own arms, such as Kennesaw Georgia does. The government could even require every citizen to practice weekly at a rifle range. Such actions would be reasonably calculated to lead to a militia that is 'well regulated'. It may be Constitutional for the government to pass no laws concerning the militia and to ignore its organization and even its armament. It is Constitutionally completely outside the government's power to prohibit citizen ownership of arms or forbid practice with the same.

Let's dispense with a number of legends about the Second Amendment spread by elements who intentionally deny entire volumes of Constitutional history and practice. These "Constitution Deniers" make a number of unfounded assertions in the following forms:

Constitution Denier Claim #1: "The Second Amendment only guarantees the states the right to maintain a militia which is now called the Army National Guard."

This argument is conjured out of thin air. Article I of the Constitution, in reserving to the states the undivided power of appointing militia officers, had already specifically recognized the right of the states to command the militia and therefore its independent existence in the states. Article II specifically recognized the separate prior existence of the militia, the state centered power of command over it and also that the President would act as Commander-in-Chief of the all the nation's mobilized forces in time of war.

Constitution Denier Claim #2: "The phrase 'well-regulated' allows the federal, state, or local governments to ban individual ownership of guns."

This is another false argument based on absolutely nothing. The phrase 'well-regulated' only delegates specific Constitutional powers to enhance and increase the combat power of the militia by means of federal efforts. Congress with its Quartermaster General powers relative to the militia possesses no authority to arbitrarily limit the militia's strength that arises from other sources in the nation. Congress may judge (or misjudge) contemporary domestic and foreign conditions as not requiring exceptional national efforts to strengthen ("well-regulate") the militia. But Congress, the President, the Courts or all three completely lack any Constitutional power to suppress the militia or limit its natural size.

The Second Amendment expressly denied to the Commander-In-Chief and ALL government officials any power of disarming the militia or of interfering in their acquisition of militarily effective arms.

Constitution Denier Claim #3: "The Second Amendment permits registration of firearms."

This is a gray area. Constitutionality would hinge on the purpose of such a program. Registration might be Constitutional if the government can demonstrate registration is part of a larger effort reasonably calculated to increase the combat power of the militia. For example, a registration program might be Constitutional if it were in the nature of taking a census of weapons. The only reasonable purpose would be to identify unarmed citizens who needed to have weapons issued to them under Congress' Article I power to arm the militia. This is an example of a registration calculated to 'well-regulate' the militia. This would perhaps be lawful if the federal government finally its Constitutional duty to form and equip the militia on the Swiss pattern, which even George Washington viewed with admiration in the 18th Century.

Government attempts to conduct a registration of weapons preparatory to confiscation are not just outside the bounds of Constitutional practice. This purpose would constitute an effort by the government to suppress and destroy the militia, not to 'well-regulate' it. Such efforts do not outlaw the People as the Militia. They instead outlaw the political cabal concerned as a "distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government" to be dealt with by the states and the militia in accordance with the procedures of The Federalist No. 46.

Constitution Denier Claim #4: "The Second Amendment secures states as well as Congress the power to arm the militia. The right to 'keep and bear arms' is a collective right that can only be exercised through the state government."

It's true that retaining state government power to arm the militia independently of Congress was a prominent concern in numerous legislatures during the ratification debates for the original Constitution. The fallacy of the above Communist minded argument is shown by the wording of the Tenth Amendment, the last of the "Bill of Rights":

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

As shown in the Tenth Amendment, and everywhere in the Constitution, the statesmen of that era had no difficulty discriminating between "States" and "People" in writing. When they meant state governments they wrote "states". When they meant people they wrote "People". Those worried that state governments have no independent power to arm the militia can be at ease. Nothing in the Constitution prohibits state governments ("states") the power to arm their militias. The Tenth Amendment specifically this power among many others to the states.

The ratification debates produced many concerns about the militia falling into abeyance from refusals by Congress, the state governments or both to arm it. A large body of statesmen then recognized that wealthy and corrupt political elites always prefer standing mercenary forces to reliance on the People's Militia. The final consensus solution reflected in the Second and Tenth Amendments is that Congress, the States and the Militia ("People") all keep the power to arm the militia.

The ultimate guarantee of the Constitution of the United States is not the President, ephemeral Congressmen or artful lawyers with slick words and plausible sounding rationales. Such individuals did not secure the Independence of the United States enabling the creation of the Constitution. These achievements were won by the citizen-soldiers on the field of battle amid the rattle of musketry and clash of arms. The ultimate guarantors of the Constitution of the People of the United States of America remains the same power that created it. This is death-dealing force in the hands of the People themselves assembled for war as the militia (soldiers).