Wright: Virginia Needs More Militia

By Doug Wright

Even a “nice guy” is gonna take issue with a review when the entire evaluation of my performance at the candidate forum is based on one answer to one question. I challenge anyone to try to answer any of the questions we were asked within 60 or 90 seconds. (See Sixth District GOP Forum Grades: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.)

About my answer concerning the militia: the second amendment starts with the phrase, “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state….”

My question is, “Where is the militia?”

The founders envisioned a citizen’s militia, called “irregulars” in their day, who drilled periodically and elected their own officers. I served with the Marine Corps for 17 years. As part of my training, I treated goats who were heavily sedated and shot with a NATO 5.56 round … the type that comes out of the AR-15. The wound is horrible.

The shock wave from the 5.56 round destroys a grapefruit sized portion of the goat’s hind quarter. I shudder to think about little kids or high school students suffering from these wounds. In Florida, the system that should protect us all from a madman with a gun failed. The local police, the FBI, and the school system all failed to identify the shooter as the risk he was to the community. So the public safety institutions we have now are not working. I am a shooter and own several firearms.

I was in a gun store when a very young man came in and purchased an AK-47. He had no idea how to insert the magazine or where the safety was on the weapon. He was nervous and emotionally inappropriate. I was worried about him having such a weapon.

I also have a friend who is struggling with a relative who has two AR-15s. The person in question is abusive to his wife and children. “How can I keep something really bad from happening?” my friend asked me.

My idea would be to require any owner of a rifle identified as an assault type rifle, like the AR-15 or the AK-47, to be a member of a state militia. Virginia has a militia called the Virginia Defense Force. This would qualify for gun ownership in my plan but there are only 1,200 VDF members.

I propose another tier of militia membership. It would require once-a-quarter meetings where gun safety and marksmanship were taught. Other training, like automotive safety and first aid, could be added to the program. Members of the Virginia Long Rifle Militia (catchy name, don’t you think?) would also be given a mental health questionnaire each year.

Militia members would be asked questions like, “Are you going through a divorce? Bankruptcy? Eviction? Is your spouse sick or has your spouse passed away? The questionnaire would also ask, “Do you know anyone in your unit who is emotionally unable to be trusted with a firearm?” Members who needed help could be identified and referred to mental health specialists.

Those who are judged to be at risk would have their firearms secured. Militia members would set the community standard for firearm safety and marksmanship. Members who qualify could become instructors. In time of crisis in the state, the governor would have another organization to call upon for volunteers, not in the role of marksmen but as volunteers to man shelters and communication equipment in a civil emergency.

I would be in favor of making the purchase of ANY assault rifle (as defined by Congress) contingent on membership in a state militia. National Guard members and members of the U.S. Military would qualify. Folks who currently own such weapons would be invited to join the militia but would not be required to join. Thus, no buy back or confiscation.

Before I ran three successful businesses, I worked as an employee in five different dental offices. I worked for the Veterans Administration as well. I left several of these jobs because I saw innovative ways to make the practice better but my ideas were shot down because they were too original. We need original, innovative ideas now.

Our country has too many dead from mass shootings. The institutions we depend on for our safety are failing. When all else fails, I say we rely on “We the people.” I am in favor of creating a new institution, something that our founding fathers would immediately recognize and understand. This new institution would increase firearm safety and prevent future mass shootings while protecting our rights under the second amendment.

Douglas Wright is a candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in the 6th Congressional District who lives and works in Rockingham County.