Bedford County Militia

Commentary: Bedford County Militia is about neighbors helping neighbors

David Saur

David Saur writes:

In a commentary titled “Militia not making Bedford County residents feel safer” by Donna StClair, Ms. StClair outlines a few things about the Bedford County Militia that make her feel “unsafe.” As a resident of Bedford County, I would like to put those fears to rest.

Ms. StClair’s main problems with the BCM are their legality, alleged political activism, and anonymity.

In addressing their legality, it is first necessary to understand the Constitution of both the United States and of Virginia. They are documents that define and limit the government’s powers to protect the people’s liberty. Militias are specifically protected in both constitutions as intrinsic to freedom. Historically, and currently, militias are local (though they can be called up, never outside of their home state), composed of volunteers and with elected leaders. To what specific legal issues or “future violence” Ms. StClair is alluding, I am not sure.

The idea that free citizens need permission from elected officials for organizing and performing lawful, helpful activities is about as un-American as it can get. To repeat, the Constitution defines and limits the powers of the government, not the people. And it is, as the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution pointed out, the duty of citizens to protect themselves, to hold their elected representatives accountable, and to ensure that the Constitution remains the law of the land.

The current BCM structure is a legal organization, and one with the simple goal of neighbors helping neighbors. The BCM has members that are ready to help residents who want to plant gardens, learn more about their natural rights, participate in search and rescue, or learn to handle firearms safely. And, as Ms. StClair pointed out, they are ready to help out when a natural disaster strikes as they did when tornadoes struck neighboring counties in May 2022.

One of the points made at the BCM orientation meeting is that it is a non-political organization. Anyone willing to help their neighbors out is welcome, and the BCM is willing to help anyone regardless of their political affiliation. One of the goals of the BCM is to keep politics out of the lives of Bedford County residents during a time when politics have destroyed countless communities across America. Politically motivated riots with looters and provocateurs bussed in from around the country have left more than one community a smoking ruin. As a resident of Bedford, I am glad to see residents willing to support the sheriff and even more glad to see that we have a sheriff who recognizes that his job is to serve as the constitutional authority in Bedford County.

Ms. StClair comments that the BCM “might as well be wearing sheets.” Identity politics and ad hominem attacks do not play a role in rational debate, nor (as the picture attached to her article attests) do they truly represent BCM.

Volunteering for the BCM is a tremendous commitment. As a former U.S. Army officer with two combat tours, I believe that in many ways the commitment made by the BCM is harder. In the Army, I was paid, I had tremendous logistic support, and most importantly, my family was thousands of miles away from the fight. The BCM trains to help the residents of Bedford on their days off; they provide their food, water, cars, gas and firearms. They are committed to leaving their families on the worst days that they might face in order to help maintain that thin veneer of law and order that we all depend on for safety. As private citizens, it is not a wonder that they value privacy. Even so, anyone is welcome to meetings to meet the members and leaders of the BCM.

To call the BCM politically radical is untrue. To call them heavily armed is exaggerated. Owning a pistol, shotgun or rifle isn’t heavily armed. It’s just the basic tools of self-reliance and freedom.

I’ve lived in other places where people were heavily armed and organized, but in gangs, not militias. Every week I could hear gunfire crack in my neighborhood. My neighbor was carjacked in his driveway the week after we sold our house. I’ll take the militia any day.

At the end of the day, the BCM are just neighbors prepared to help their neighbors.