Could martial law ever really be implemented in the United States? Would the American people, by and large, accept it, and if so, under what circumstances, and for how long?
The answers to these questions vary, of course, and in fact are purely speculative based at this point, because the last time the United States experienced it was during the Civil War, when the military (hence the term “martial”) was deployed to restore order.
But that period of time is instructive because though “times were different,” the very real national emergency created by civil conflict then would be no less dire now, meaning modern politicians and presidents would likely respond in much the same way as Abraham Lincoln did (he suspended habeas corpus, created military districts ruled by military governors, and spent money to raise military forces without congressional approval, among other actions – all of which were eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court).
Martial law in modern terms
A series of articles examining this very concept in modern terms were published in December in Bugout.news. The series posited what might happen to Americans’ civil and constitutional liberties in the event of sustained terrorist attacks around the country, similar to the jihadi-inspired shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., in November. An earlier piece in Bugout.news noted specifically that if war came to the U.S., the Constitution would be its first casualty:
War on American soil is not a pleasant thing to contemplate, though most don’t expect the current global conflagration that is being waged primarily by unconventional forces to manifest itself on the American continent with the same ferocity as that which defined our Civil War. But would that matter? Isn’t the precedent thus that “war” and “national emergency” and “martial law” are now defined in a manner the president decides?
A couple of Paris-style ISIS attacks in America is all it would take for this president to emulate Lincoln’s actions, albeit with far less noble intentions.
The die has been cast. The legal precedent set. And now, we have been warned.
How to handle martial law
Besides terrorism or outright civil unrest, an epidemic (Ebola or Zika virus) could also trigger martial law. Should it come to America, how would you survive it? In some ways, as noted by this infographic from the Free Thought Project, some level of martial law is already here, given the militarization of local and state police forces.
Still, things could get much worse. Here are some suggestions as to how best to handle martial law:
- Make a bug-out plan: If you’re into the prepping/survivalist world then a martial law situation is probably “the big one” you’ve been training for. In today’s wired world, the chances are good that you’ll be warned by folks in the know, or other experts about a pending martial-law situation, so you’ll have some time to make your move. Make sure the gas tank in your vehicle is always full and you have survival gear stowed in your trunk. And make sure you know where you’re going before you leave. A friend’s home outside the city, a property of your own with provisions already in place, a rural area that you’ll share with others are good places to fall back on.
- Learn how to use a weapon and then train with it. Also, train your family how to use them – not as a way to fight the government, but as a way to protect yourselves from the masses of displaced humanity, should martial law lead to societal collapse. Consider using a silent weapon like a crossbow for hunting purposes.
- Keep quiet and out of sight. You’ll want to store your gear, weapons and food in a secret place that would survive a first, and even second sweep of your home by government agents or troops. You should also consider storing your supplies underground; flowerbeds and gardens make great places, as the ground is already disturbed and won’t look suspicious.
- Be cool and don’t hassle troops or police when they come by; don’t do anything to draw attention to yourself.
- Be careful whom you trust, especially if they’re from the government.
- Build a safe room where you can lock yourself away from intruders and prying agents.
“Just like all disasters, martial law could happen at any time. That doesn’t mean we should live in fear, but it does mean we should take the proper steps now so we aren’t caught off guard when it goes down,” notes Survival Life.