Alan Ferdman | A Police Department or a Militia?


From the time I was young, to early this year when my mother left for heaven, I remember her telling me whenever things were not going my way, “every cloud has a silver lining”. 

She was a true optimist, and extensively used sayings like; “Everything happens for a reason,” and, “When one door closes another will open.” Today, we seem to have more than our share of clouds in the sky, with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting our lives, rioting in the streets, California ablaze, and we are living in the most polarized political climate I have experienced since the Vietnam War era.

Yet, I think Mom was right. Whenever I read some negative comments about the United States, in the paper or on the internet, I want to know more about the topic being highlighted, so I immediately set off to do some research. Typically, I learn the “silver lining” Mom was talking about is knowing the facts, without the media, intellectuals, or current hysteria spinning and bending history to support their positions. It gives me a sense of well-being when I can intelligently discuss the topic. It does not matter if I agree or disagree with what transpired — knowing the facts allows me to make informed decisions. 

For example, just a few days ago I came across an article in The Signal, written by a columnist, whom I consider a good friend. In it, he discussed the Second Amendment and how it relates to the establishment of “a well-regulated militia.” The author revealed how he believes it works today and stated, “Clearly Congress creates, funds and activates the militia. Upon activation, the militia is subject to the president, the commander in chief.”

But is that what was intended at the time our country was founded? The mid-1700s was a uniquely different time and place. Only large cities had their own version of a police department, and most smaller communities relied on a militia of able-bodied men 14 to 45 years of age, who volunteered to defend their community. Which translated to virtually all adult males, as average life expectancy in 1790 was only 35 years of age.

Quoting the Heritage Foundation, “For the founders, the militia arose from the posse comitatus (an armed group of citizens), constituting the people as a whole and embodying the Anglo-American idea that the citizenry is the best enforcer of the law.” The townships did not fund the participants or purchase their equipment. Each member was expected to bring their own weapons, ammunition, and be ready whenever the need arose. Plus, in many cases, private citizens had better arms than the federal Army. While most Army soldiers were carrying smooth-bore muskets, some citizens showed up with “long rifles,” and their long-range accuracy was welcomed by those in charge.

Fast forward to current times, and all communities in the United States have law enforcement provided by a local police or sheriff department. While expecting all adult males to come forward to defend their community no longer seems necessary, the mechanism to accomplish such a goal remains written in the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Plus, our founders may have been smarter and more forward-looking than we currently give them credit for. 

2020 has brought forth a segment of our society who feels our current method of law enforcement is no longer effectively serving our community. Cries of police brutality and minority persecution have brought with them a movement that looks to defund the police, and then replace them with an unarmed force of social workers. All while politicians favor pandering to the protesters and removing much of the ability of law enforcement to protect law-abiding community members, rather than maintaining order. 

In addition, we are witnessing prosecuting attorneys refusing to make those who willfully break the law, destroy property, injure innocent residents, and disrespect law enforcement officers, pay for their actions.

So, what happens if this outlying segment is successful in removing law enforcement from our communities? It is easy to sense community members becoming concerned and preparing to protect themselves. Gun sales have gone through the roof. Community members who never thought about owning a firearm before are now actively visiting gun stores and initiating purchases. Perhaps we may have to return to the practice where communities will again rely on a militia of able-bodied men who will volunteer to defend their community. Of course, they will be required to bring their own weapons and ammunition. Do you favor the concept?

Most rational-thinking adults do not believe a return to Wild West law enforcement is a good idea. Plus, we have a lot of good law enforcement officers currently on the job. I favor supporting those who are risking their lives every day to keep us safe, and long for a time when prosecutors did their job by separating the lawless from our communities. But if those who seek to defund the police get their way, don’t think for one minute most of the population will sit back and do nothing. Family members will do anything necessary to protect their loved ones, friends and neighborhood, while at the same time working tirelessly to throw pandering officeholders out on their behinds. 

What happens next is all up to us. We can improve the legal system we have today, or regress 200 years. Being silent is not the answer. Our elected officials need to hear from us regularly and loudly, as we demand they keep our community safe. In the meantime, I’ll just keep watching as our community prepares for the worst, while hoping for the best.

Alan Ferdman is a Santa Clarita resident and a member of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee board.

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