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.

  • old_redneck

    This is a joke, right?

    • Turtles Run

      Do you really have to ask.

      Matt Suarez

    • mezurak

      Sounds more like the punch line of his campaign. Lots of luck, pal.

  • Dave Sagarin

    The founders did not “envision” any kind of militia. Each colony had a well regulated militia, which became state militias. They were “well regulated” in that they were supervised and supplied by the state.The Second Amendment was written to reassure the states that the new Federal Government, even if they created a standing army, would not interfere with the states’ militias. This to mollify George Mason in Virginia, for example, to ease his qualms about ratification of the Constitution.

    • M. D. Russ

      “Well-regulated” in the 18 Century meant well-trained. The meaning of the Second Amendment was not to have an organized militia but to protect the individual right of citizens to bear arms and be familiar with their use. Read some history.

      • Dave Sagarin

        I have found, in my reading, that “well regulated,” at that time, included the notion of equipping and overseeing. I know there are other views all over the place.

        And the individual right has only been asserted in the past generation. “The People” in my reading, is “the people,” not “people.” The document opens, “We the People …” and the drafters of the amendment seem to be looking back at that.

        • Doug Wright

          Dave, Thanks for your comments. Please see the remarks I left for Russ above. I’d like to know your thoughts about this idea.

        • JC_VA

          The Founders would disagree. They experienced personal ownership and carry independent of militia duty every day. I find it funny how the people who claim the individual right is a recent invention cannot point to a single case any anyone carrying a pistol in the old West being imprisoned for carrying outside of “militia duty”. Seems most everyone at that time understood individual ownership to be the cornerstone of any kind of militia being possible at all.

          Everyone understands gun ownership to be an individual activity, and it always has been, since before the Founding.

      • Doug Wright

        Russ, Thanks for your comment. With your comment in mind, where is the training? I served with the Marines for 17 years. At boot camp recruits are given M-16s for training for a couple of weeks before they get near a range. As you probably know they learn how to dis assemble and clean and weapon. They certainly know where the safety is. I think training among other gun owners will instill a sense of responsibility that may be lacking from some gun owners. In my article I am trying to empower the common man /woman to raise the level of gun safety and responsibility. I think a congressman needs to be a good listener. How would you suggest we fix the problem as it now stands? The FBI failed, the local police failed and school officials are intimidated. How can we prevent another mass shooting at a school, church or entertainment event? A writer in the New York Times (Bret Stephen) is calling for the elimination of the 2nd amendment. I am entirely against that. I want to come up with a solution, grounded in the principles of the constitution. What are your ideas?

        • M. D. Russ

          The problem is not a lack of training, Doug, or firearms. The problem is mental health and failure to enforce the existing laws that we have to prevent disqualified persons from possessing firearms. A case in point is the Austin serial bomber. He used no firearms to randomly kill innocent people.

          I served in the Army for 25 years. My first assignment after the Infantry Officer Basic Course was as a Training Officer and then Company Commander of a Basic Combat Training company. We occasionally identified a new recruit who exhibited odd and anti-social behavior. He was referred to the Mental Hygiene service at the hospital and, once diagnosed as sociopathic, was expeditiously discharged as mentally unfit for military service. Although he was reported to the NCIS as such, I have no idea how many states checked his background before allowing him to purchase a firearm.

          • Doug Wright

            Russ, Thanks for your reply and for your service. When I was a dentist at the Veterans Admin Medical Center, I treated several patients who had paranoid schizophrenia. Many times, these folks were identified in boot camp or early in their training. I have been thinking about the bomber as well. This bomber, along with the other school shooters all appear to have something in common. They are isolated. Not just loners….these folks isolated themselves from society. My goal with the militia is to bring new gun owners into a community that sets the standards for behavior and training. In this environment the community of militia members can identify anti-social, mentally challenged individuals. Being in the militia would be something a source of pride for the participant. I was a drilling reservist for 17 years. One weekend each month. I thought just one weekend a quarter would not be so onerous. The irresponsible types will stick out like a sore thumb and we can get them some help. What are your thoughts? Is there some other way to handle this? We have real problems….the laws on the books are not being enforced. Mental health resources are equally available. Is one weekend a quarter too much to ask? Most of my shooting friends spend at least this much time at the range on a regular basis. Thanks for this conversation.

          • M. D. Russ

            Doug,

            I think that you are beating a dead horse. The Supreme Court has held in Heller vs. DC and McDonald vs. Chicago that the Second Amendment provides an individual right to bear arms that is not contingent on the collective right of militias to bear arms. Linking the individual right to militias would weaken the Second Amendment and bolster the anti-gun crowd’s contention that only organized military units should be allowed to bear arms–and that those arms should be owned by the military unit and stored in controlled access arms rooms and not at home. That is completely counter to Heller and McDonald and would defeat the purpose of having an individual right to bear arms. Remember, when seconds count the police are minutes away.

            We have plenty of laws on the books to disqualify unstable people from bearing firearms. We just need to enforce them. Adam Lanza was disqualified and yet his mother took him to a firing range to practice and left firearms and ammunition in the house where he could get to them. Jared Loughner had been banned from his community college campus and was known by local police and his parents to have mental issues. The list goes on and on. Rarely has there been a mass shooter who wasn’t or should have been disqualified from firearms possession.

          • Doug Wright

            Thanks Russ, I agree with you on a number of points. The alarm has gone off at my office building in Rockingham County more than once. I always get to the building before the police. I am armed when I arrive out of necessity. I am pretty frustrated because of what you observed. Almost all the mass killings would have been prevented if mentally unstable folks could not get their hands on guns. I know we have the laws, how do we make certain they are enforced? This is not happening now.

  • Jay Hughes

    This has got to be one of the all time dumbest things I’ve ever heard of in my life. Only slightly more dumb was Maryland’s rain run-off tax. For the guy who is “abusive” to his wife and child there are a myriad local and state authorities the person can reach out to for an investigation into this person. As for this new “militia” we’re going to have people with NO medical training at all evaluating whether people are mentally/psychologically fit to own and use a gun? Absurd. There will be a background investigation that’s almost as rigorous as one for a top secret security clearance? We don’t require people to undergo a background investigation before they peacefully protest their government, attend the church of their choice, or, write a letter to their local newspaper editor detailing why they think Donald Trump is a stupid son of a bitch. We have all the gun control we need. The young man in Florida could have easily been stopped if the FBI did its job. The young man in Florida could have easily been stopped if the useless Sheriff was less interested in grandstanding on television and actually running his department. The kid even called 911 not once, but twice to confess he was going to shoot up a school. Adding more government layers will only abridge the rights of law abiding citizens and not keep us safer.

    • Doug Wright

      Jay, Thanks for taking the time to share your views. 35 years ago Ronald Reagan outlined his Star Wars program. A lot of folks thought this was a pretty foolish idea at the time. To take your concerns point by point…..local and state authorities are failing us. This happened in Florida. Regarding my friends concern about the fellow who is giving his wife a bad time: a wife with little kids will probably be pretty intimidated and may not feel she can contact the local authorities. The folks in the militia with no medical training you mention in will refer to folks who HAVE mental health training. Someone who perhaps is a school guidance counselor or a member of the clergy who is in the militia. I am NOT advocating gun control or confiscation. Milita members would keep their weapons at home just like they do in Switzerland or Israel. The FBI, the local sherif and the school officials ALL failed to do their job. We need folks who are responsible and committed to safety to help make our society safer. I think the careful, thoughtful folks I see at any shooting range would take their responsibility very seriously. My goal is not to add government layers, my goal is to get the larger gun- owning community to police their own. Please let me know what you think. Thanks for writing.

      • Shawn _

        Doug, you’re no Ronald Regan.

        • Doug Wright

          Shawn, you are right. I am not an actor. I have only been a politician since January 15. I am an innovator. I am successful in business and as a dentist because I use unique ideas to solve problems in my business and for my patients. Now, what are your ideas for improving our safety and preventing gun violence in the future?

  • Shawn _

    “I propose another tier of militia membership.”

    And you want to run for state Congress?

    You should probably read 10 U.S. Code § 246 – Militia: Composition and Classes, then. It already details that, to quote directly from the law:

    (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.

    Who let you in this party?

    • Doug Wright

      Shawn, I do not see anything preventing another tier of militia membership. The AR-15 and AK-47 were developed as military weapons. In two of your posts, I do not see anything that will improve public safety and prevent mass shootings. I do not think gun control can stop the mass shootings. I think we would all be well served if the gun owning community set the standard for gun safety and responsibility. My idea puts the onus on the people, not the police or a federal employee. Members of the new militia, once trained, could act as volunteers to augment safety officers in schools. I am a health care provider with 21 years of military experience. I am a gun owner and I have worked at trauma center and was part of a team who treated gun shot victims. I think the wound from a NATO 5.56 is worse than that other firearms. This opinion is based on first hand experience. Because it is designed to deliver rounds on target in rapid succession, I think this weapon and weapons like it are dangerous in the wrong hands. I do not think the state or federal government should be deciding who can have these weapons. My proposal empowers gun owners like you to set the standard for safety and responsibility. I am interested in your ideas on this subject. What do you think we should do to reduce the risk of another mass shooting?

      • JC_VA

        Please stop trying to sell that falsehood about the AR15 – The AR15 was never issued to any military. The AR15 was the platform from which actual military arms were derived.

        If we’re going to use your tortured criterion, we’d have to do the same for the lever action and pump action systems also. Not to mention the bolt-action system, still in service with most military forces in the world, and capable of much more damage.

        “First hand experience” isn’t relevant to deciding on the lethality of the 5.56mm round. It produces wounds no worse than any similar round, less than most any typical hunting round. Only the data are relevant, and it’s been shown time and again that your average hunting rifle produces bigger temporary and permanent wound cavities than the 5.56mm is capable of.

        I would have to echo the question of another previous commenter – “Who let you in this party?”. I think there’s a different one you might find yourself more at home in.

  • JC_VA

    This is a parody, right?

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