How a Muster Day Revival Could Secure Second Amendment Rights for Future Generations

You didn’t learn about this in your public high school history class, at least not recently. “Muster Day” was established in the United States after the passage of the Militia Acts of 1792 and remained a yearly tradition until the Civil War. It’s a great institution, and it’s high time to bring it back. It may even help preserve the right to keep and bear arms if we continue our Parkland-driven anti-gun spiral.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last twenty years, you’re likely aware that there are two interpretations of the Second Amendment. The first, recognized by the Supreme Court in the 2008 D.C. v. Heller decision, holds that the right to keep and bear arms resides with the individual. The second interpretation, popular among the anti-gun lobby though never validated by the Supreme Court, makes the Second Amendment contingent on militia service, which would currently disqualify most Americans from the right to own a firearm in the U.S.

The anti-gunners have made no secret about their intent to establish this second interpretation as the law of the land. Hillary Clinton said as much leading up to her failed election bid, and former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens argued along these lines in his dissenting Heller opinion. This interpretation is how gun control advocates can claim that they support the Second Amendment while promoting firearms regulations: if the Second Amendment only applies to militias, individual gun rights can be restricted to virtual oblivion.

Right now, the chances are slim that the Supreme Court will reverse the Heller decision, but here’s a doomsday scenario that, as our prepper friends are constantly reminding us, isn’t all that unlikely.

Democrats, galvanized by their hatred of President Trump, descend from their Martha’s Vineyard mansions and win back Congress in 2018 and the White House in 2020. The anti-gunners immediately pass an “assault weapons” ban, which President Joe Biden signs. Texas and South Carolina sue the federal government on Second Amendment grounds.

SEE ALSO: ‘Repeal the Second Amendment,’ Says Former Supreme Court Justice

The Supreme Court can’t ignore this Second Amendment case. Unfortunately, 85-year-old Ronald Reagan appointee Anthony Kennedy retired in 2022, and Uncle Joe has given leftists a 5-4 advantage. This new Court decides to take advantage of the opportunity. They strike down Scalia’s interpretation and instituted their own: Second Amendment rights are contingent on militia service, and both state and federal laws can prohibit private ownership of firearms.

Here’s where Muster Day comes in. The Militia Acts of 1792 required every able-bodied citizen between the ages of eighteen and forty-five to be a member of the state militia. Congress was concerned about responding to civil unrest, so they passed two laws that, to a certain extent, established uniformity among the various state military units.

Muster Day was the annual gathering in towns and cities by which the actual enrollment was accomplished (Stone 33). Members were required to appear on the stated day and furnish a musket or firelock, bayonet and belt, spare flints, knapsack, and a pouch containing not less than 24 cartridges, along with other pieces of gear (“Militia Act of 1792”). Officers took the opportunity to train their members, and the men also gathered to drink and socialize.

“Muster Day, 1843 or after” by Charles Henry Granger. As you can see, mid-nineteenth-century Muster Days weren’t always the most formal of occasions. (Source: NGA.gov)

People of all political persuasions believed the militias would be the “shield of the Republic,” and state units provided the vast majority of American forces during the War of 1812 (Stone 33). Since then, militia troops were used less frequently until the Dick Act of 1903 officially replaced the 1792 model with the National Guard.

But for over 100 years, Muster Day comprised a central part of American life and culture. The following excerpt was published in a periodical called The Youth’s Companion on April 19, 1883. The author describes “muster days” when he was boy, which likely occurred in the early-to-mid nineteenth century:

When we were boys, in what was then known as the Province of Maine, we were deeply impressed by “muster days.” As the martial notes awoke in the early morning, we rushed out of bed, hurried on our clothes, and ran to the place of rendezvous. It was an exciting scene; it looked so grand, so warlike!

Troops had arrived in considerable numbers, and others were constantly arriving. Here and there a company was attending to the calling of the muster-roll. How strangely grand all that sounded! The calling of names, the response in a prompt, rapid manner all along the line. Then there was a drill and a series of revolutions, preparatory to the greater scene to be acted later that day.

The author goes on to describe how the entire town had gathered to watch the demonstration, and the soldiers even put on a mock battle between English and American troops. Though muster days took a variety of forms, they all worked to ensure militia membership, train troops, and give local communities a holiday.

SEE ALSO: Maryland Gun Owners Forced to Choose Between Firearms and Medical Marijuana

The U.S. Congress isn’t going to reinstate compulsory militia membership any time soon, but what’s to stop private entities from resurrecting Muster Day? What if, even after the hypothetical Supreme Court grants Second Amendment rights only to militia members, the Muster Day revival has enabled millions of Americans to enlist in the National Guard and retain their right to keep and bear arms? Imagine the surprise on President Biden’s face when the Court’s misinterpretation of the Second Amendment increases militia membership and guarantees gun rights for citizens across the country.

National Guard service shouldn’t be undertaken lightly, of course, and thousands of citizens won’t be permitted to join the Guard per their enlistment requirements. But if the anti-gun lobby wants to tie gun rights to militia membership, they should prepare to swell the ranks of the modern-day militias. Muster Day could be a way to get that ball rolling long before the anti-gunners get their way.

Works Cited

“Militia Act of 1792.” The Gun Debate: An Encyclopedia of Gun Control & Gun Rights, edited by Grey House Publishing, 3rd edition, 2016. Credo Reference, http://ezproxy.baylor.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/greygun/militia_act_of_1792/0?institutionId=720. Accessed 02 Apr. 2018.

“MUSTER-DAY.” The Youth’s Companion (1827-1929), vol. 56, no. 16, Apr 19, 1883, pp. 162, ProQuest, http://ezproxy.baylor.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/127060108?accountid=7014.

Stone, Richard G. A Brittle Sword: The Kentucky Militia, 1776-1912. 1st ed., University Press of Kentucky, 1977. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130jd0c.

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Cody January 20, 2019, 2:03 pm

    “…makes the Second Amendment contingent on militia service, which would currently disqualify most Americans from the right to own a firearm in the U.S.”

    Not according to the author of the second amendment and a host of other founders.

    “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.”
    — George Mason, in Debates in Virginia Convention on
    Ratification of the Constitution, Elliot, Vol. 3, June 16, 1788

  • Pat Cavanaugh May 6, 2018, 1:17 am

    It has not been that long since a Muster was held in CA. A large riot was in progress so the neighbors in a residential area came forth for protection. Both men and women brought weapons/ammo to a central point to protect their neighborhood. How did it work? It worked very well and kept out the unwelcome for creating any losses. Some number of weapons noted were military resold from the CMP, others were styled as semi auto and sold new, there was a hint of one 30 cal auto 2 man unit in place. The Militia is the neighbor that would stand next to you to provide protective force to maintain Peace for home and family.

  • John L May 5, 2018, 4:52 pm

    Muster day? Current gun owners can’t muster to join a pro 2A group and half can’t muster to vote. The only time they can muster is to bitch online.

  • Sam May 5, 2018, 2:11 pm

    So this is the doomsday scenario? …”Democrats, galvanized by their hatred of President Trump, descend from their Martha’s Vineyard mansions and win back Congress in 2018 and the White House in 2020. The anti-gunners immediately pass an “assault weapons” ban, which President Joe Biden signs. Texas and South Carolina sue the federal government on Second Amendment grounds.”

    The State “sue” the Federal Government? Where do I find that clause in the Constitution. The right and proper remedy to unjust and unlawful usurpation by the Fed is for the the Creators of the Fed to Nullify those unlawful actions. Local and State action and education is exactly what is needed. It is not a battle Parties (Republican and Democrat), It is a battle of Principles.

    Bring back the Muster Days!

  • Dave Brown May 4, 2018, 1:27 pm

    Heck Muster Day might work, and besides what WE are doing not ainn’t working. The NRA use to be about education and attraction, but The Buck has caused them to be so much Less today. They brought me into Gunning 54 years ago at the age of 12, and I am still doing the deal. But, they are not, they have lost their roots. The 2nd is fine, and it might be safer without The NRA doing the damage they have been doing for the last 10 or so years. Free Your Mind, and you just might SEE.

    • Michael Smith May 4, 2018, 4:44 pm

      You are being very short sighted thinking the NRA isn’t necessary especially now. Just tell me what other national organization with the member numbers the NRA has that will fight for us.

    • Warsaw Wizard May 5, 2018, 7:36 am

      To Dave Brown: I totally agree that what we are doing isn’t working and we must galvanize and come up with a plan of counter attack. Now, I also agree with you about the NRA evolving from a pure shooting educational organization to what we have now but, the evolution was necessitated by the liberal, anti-gun left ( Democrat party and liberal news media) to defend against their attack on our second amendment and our right to own firearms. The NRA is still very involved in firearms safety and education and has expanded itself into a defenders posture trying to unite it’s members to stand up and fight back. They are trying to do it peacefully and legally but, from what I am seeing the anti-gunners are not traveling the the peaceful and legal road. I am totally convinced that the mass shootings have been orchestrated by a power that wants to destroy our right to bear arms and defend ourselves much like Hitler did in 1939. I pray that America wakes up before it’s too late.

  • Kevin Cote May 4, 2018, 12:45 pm

    Ok, I have thought more , I believe the first obstacle is to retake the education of boys . Herein lies the problem . The levels of testerone have decreased 60% in men since the 1980’s… think that may be a problem ? lowered IQ , suicide , mental illness ,…. all on the increase in boys/men ?.. What has changed ? Social engineering certianly has transformed our once rugged individualistic , industrious , inquisitive society into fat , stupid little snowflakes who are in increasing numbers being feminized , marginalized , blamed and beaten for every phony percieved ill, unfairness or bigotry that they can fabricate . Just go listen to Jordan Petersen on Youtube and get a dose of what is happening. He is spot on . The men must regain control of our own lives, families and society . It has been infiltrared by those who are first and foremost , evil . Who among you thinks that everything including the air we breathe and the water we drink is not tainted with stupid ? How the Hell did we get here ? More importantly , what are you going to do ” today ” right now to turn the tide ?… I was Captian of the Rifle Team in High School !!!! Could you imagine that 44 years ago it was completely acceptable to carry your 22 target rifle in a case onto a school bus and lock it in your locker ?…. Shame on us !….. How did we go from being a country that was the envy of every other country on the planet to the most hated ??? I know how , by whom and why . Now its time to put your big boy pants on and find out too.
    Want answers , I will point you in the direction..you may not believe what you discover at first , denial is always part and parcel of that kind of ” disease “.

    • JungleCogs May 4, 2018, 12:53 pm

      Here’s the crux of the problem… the Progressive Fascists (code name: Democrats) control almost all of our information. By that, I mean Leftists dominate academia, entertainment, the media and the internet. In our society, whoever controls the flow of information controls the public opinion that ultimately decides all matters. The demonization of firearms is by design a way to get us to comply because how can a socialist system work without the cooperation of everyone? Thus, they will use public opinion to force us.

  • JungleCogs May 4, 2018, 12:40 pm

    Many do not understand the meaning of ‘well regulated’ or ‘militia’, as they only view it in today’s lexicon. ‘Well regulated’ really meant, “In good working order, condition and at the ready”. A quick check of any “Webster’s Collegiate” will confirm that point. Frankly, at the turn of the 19th Century they didn’t have “regulations” (or ordinances) as we often use the term today (they simply had laws). Further, the ‘militia’ was considered to be the entire citizenry (then of adult males); and they were to be ‘well regulated’ as well.

  • Allen391 May 4, 2018, 11:25 am

    I’m not liking this proposal at all. It plays right to the ‘militia advocates’ agenda. I am more supportive of the broader interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. Let’s keep gun ownership as an individual right. Not the right of some quasi military organization controlled by the whims of the nation’s leadership.

  • Brian Claypool May 4, 2018, 10:15 am

    Just FYI, the militia is still a part of US law. A revival of Muster Day would be a good idea, although it is difficult to see how it could be implemented today.

    10 U.S. Code § 246 – Militia: composition and classes

    (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; and

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

    Therefore, companies like Dicks Sporting Goods are very likely guilty of violating US law, as are the states who deny the RKBA to younger citizens.

    • Mike Bolton May 11, 2018, 11:02 am

      Your all forgetting the Dick act of 1903 forming the national guard. In some states because of the Dick act, militias where deemed unnecessary and illegal.
      Unregulated militia, wouldnt qualify.

  • Cantxsailor May 4, 2018, 10:13 am

    I want to know who’s going to be in charge of the list they use to call the roll. The one with the names of all the firearms owners. As much as I applaud the idea of a true militia, made up of our neighbors for our own greater protection, the specter of this turning into a defacto registration is worrisome. It seems we can’t have one without the other.

    • Boz May 4, 2018, 11:27 am

      ALL people would be called out in general, as it would be assumed that all are patriots and own firearms. Those who do not, well, that is their loss. No names need be used.

      • Cantxsailor May 4, 2018, 2:51 pm

        Well that isn’t the gist of the description given. “The calling of the muster roll” in plain English is reading the names on a list. I’m all for us standing together for our mutual protection. Lists? Ya not so much.

  • Luis G Bonilla May 4, 2018, 9:50 am

    Don’t forget that the militia was composed of all the male’s old enough to fight , when the need was there . when they finally got into the war an army( militia) was created . The 2nd Amendment was enacted the keep our rights as men and women ,families . To keep a monarchy with the power to do as they wish from being created . With the inability to take away our guns to defend ourselves , the 2nd Amendment came to be . The times have changed but not the possibility .

  • Damon May 4, 2018, 9:09 am

    The word militia in 1776 was defined as a group of citizens ‘capable of military service’ (military service back then would be translated to ‘military operations’ today), but not controlled by a centralized government. In 1787 they didn’t put restrictions on anything related to the militia, not even gender, race, or social class (although women back then would mostly be excluded). Since 1787 the federal government and most states have been infringing on the 2nd amendment right to form a militia made of ‘citizens not controlled by a centralized government’ by passing legislation shaping what is legally accepted as a military force, IE: state’s National Guard vs. state militias. The name alone, National Guard, denotes it is for guarding the nation under centralized government control and not guarding the local populace from ‘enemies foreign and domestic.’
    I wish they would bring back the original rights afforded to citizens when the US Constitution was written.

  • No1hunter May 4, 2018, 9:02 am

    What the anti 2nd amendment people can figure out is the right to form a militia is a right of the people and in order to form a militia, the people have to have arms. It has nothing to do with government or the military. That was the original intent of the 2nd amendment and the reason our founding fathers put it in the Bill of Rights.

  • Maine May 4, 2018, 7:53 am

    Because snowflake stand for snowflakes FYIThe term muster means the process or event of accounting for members in a military unit. This practice of inspections led to the coining of the English idiom pass muster, meaning being sufficient. When a unit is created, it is \”mustered in\” and when it is disbanded, it is \”mustered out\”.A muster roll is the list of members of a military unit, often including their rank and the dates they joined or left. A roll call is the reading aloud of the names on the muster roll and the responses, to determine who is present.[1]Musters (in the sense of gatherings with roll calls) also take place in prisons.[2]https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muster_(military)

  • Infidel762X51 May 4, 2018, 7:51 am

    I don’t know about other states but PA had a law forbidding private military training. I would bet the socialist states of NJ, CA, NY, CT, MA, MD, etc. have similar laws.

  • Adam May 4, 2018, 7:12 am

    Right intent, dumb idea:
    Approximately half the states maintain laws regulating private militias. Generally, these laws prohibit the parading and exercising of armed private militias in public, but do not forbid the formation of private militias. In Wyoming, however, state law forbids the very formation of private militias.

    • George May 4, 2018, 11:52 am

      True for Nevada, Adam. While private state militias units are authorized, public “parading” is prohibited and a unit’s member/weapons roster must be filed with the state.

  • Kevin Cote May 4, 2018, 5:03 am

    Muster Day ?… just call it ” Melt the Snowflakes Day ” … could you imagine the whining and complaining from the current crop of brainwashed little commie pinko fags…
    Let the men lead and have the girls go play .

  • Bobs your uncle May 3, 2018, 10:33 am

    Don’t worry, all you need is the United Nations “small arms treaty”. What? you haven’t heard of it?

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend