The Swiss Militia – A Model for America

Swiss influence was partly responsible for the adoption of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Most Americans only understand the phrase; “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” while ignoring the preceding phrase, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state…”

The Founders didn’t say a militia would be nice to have. Rather they said, to paraphrase, if Americans want to maintain a system of freedom and liberty, a well regulated militia is necessary.

In Switzerland, there is no central governing authority. Political power is diffused through its Cantons. Cantons are geographical divisions similar to our states. The central government is weak while power remains in the hands of the people. Our Founders, for the most part, also envisioned a weak central government with power residing in the states and with the people.

The Swiss militia system was unlike anything in Europe and possibly the world.. Instead of relying on a standing army, Switzerland was (and still is) defended by a national militia. Every man was trained in war, had his rifle at home, was encouraged to practice frequently, and could be mobilized almost instantly. And here’s a little tidbit that will make Sara Brady and her gun-grabbing nest of snakes see red. Swiss militia members are not only allowed to purchase and use full-automatic machine guns, they can also (if they can afford it) buy armored vehicles, anti-tank weapons and artillery pieces. They are truly the homeland security of their tiny nation.

The Swiss-style militia is exactly the vision our Founders had for the defense and preservation of the nation they founded. Almost to a man the they feared and loathed a standing army and considered it an army of mercenaries – not necessarily loyal to the people from whence it sprang but rather to the power that paid them.

“What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. …Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.”
Elbridge Gerry – founding father and signer of the Declaration of Independence

The Founders preferred a militia for other important reasons as well. They considered the militia the best type of military because:
1. It protects the nation very well;
2. It is cheap;
3. It cannot be used for the wrong reasons;
4. It cannot be manipulated by power-seekers and
5. it cannot infringe on freedoms.

These criteria are the conditions that a good military must satisfy. A militia satisfies these better than the present standing army does.

A militia is also a purely defensive force. It cannot be used as an aggressor.

The Founders, despite their other views, almost to a man supported the usage of a militia over a standing army. A notable exception was Alexander Hamilton, a Federalist who not only encouraged a standing army, but also advocated a national banking system.

A militia after the Swiss model could never challenge, let alone overthrow, the federal government. Yet our current federal establishment frequently takes the position that militias are only formed to challenge or overthrow the government and indeed some groups of outlaws call themselves militia and have the overthrow of the government as their goal.

What then is a constitutionally correct militia as envisioned by the Founders? Again, they turned to the Swiss model.

When the first U.S. Congress met and turned to defense measures in 1791, Representative Jackson argued: “The inhabitants of Switzerland emancipated themselves by the establishment of a militia, which finally delivered them from the tyranny of their lords.” A law was passed requiring every able-bodied citizen to provide himself with a firearm and enroll in the militia, and it stayed on the books for over a century.

The “Swiss Confederation” developed only a weak central government, leaving most authority in the hands of the cantons or lower levels of government. The tradition of local autonomy helped keep Switzerland from experiencing the bitter civil wars between Catholics and Protestants that devastated Germany, France and England.

As one historian summarizes: “Switzerland was created in battle, reached its present dimensions by conquest and defended its existence by armed neutrality thereafter.” The experience of Swiss history has made national independence and power virtually synonymous with an armed citizenry.

America’s Founders admired Switzerland as a “Sister Republic” amidst the despotisms of Europe. The American Founders—like the Swiss—understood the moral implications of a universal militia system: a people who are trained to self-reliance and responsibility will defend their freedom to the utmost. But a people who rely on a professional standing army may not have the nerve to resist tyranny.

 As Switzerland proved in World War II, well-regulated militia really was necessary to the security of a free state.Swiss neutrality during WWII was not a gift bestowed by other nations or a declaration of neutrality but a status, earned through armed deterrence.

Further reading on the Swiss militia and gun control.

Click HERE to see where the Founders stood on the question of a standing army versus a militia and
additional reading about the Founders, the militia and gun control.




Filed under Elbridge Gerry, no standing army, Sarah Brady, Swiss Militia, well-regulated militia

3 responses to “The Swiss Militia – A Model for America

  1. Pingback: The Federally-controlled police state is closer than you think | Dare call it Treason

  2. Pingback: Anti-gun fanaticism rises to fever pitch following Connecticut school shooting | Dare call it Treason

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