Pike County Board Wants to Explore the Creation of Private County Militia

By Benjamin Cox on March 6, 2024 at 3:44pm

The Pike County Board is exploring the legalities of setting up its own county militia.

The Pike Press reports that County Board members Joey Cobb and Mark Mountain posed the question to Pike County State’s Attorney Walker Filbert about the county establish its own militia.

Cobb says the question stems from hearing about possible proposed legislation in Congress that would prohibit other organizations from the training of private security.

Democrat Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts introduced a bill in January that would create a federal statutory framework to prohibit certain conduct involving actions as a part of (or on behalf of) a private paramilitary organization while armed.

Filbert says it would not be legal for Pike County to form its own militia because the county is a political subdivision of the State of Illinois, and under state statute, a county would not be authorized to have its own private militia.

According to Article XII, Subsection 2 of the Illinois Constitution, counties or other entities are forbidden from operating outside state authority, providing that “[t]he military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.” The Illinois Supreme Court and General Assembly also went a step further making it a misdemeanor for “any body of men or women, other than the regularly organized militia of this State,” the US. armed forces, and veterans organizations, “to associate themselves together as a military company or organization, to drill or parade with arms in this State.” The statute says that only in times of great peril and when authorized by the Governor would a paramilitary group or militia be authorized for use. More information can be read here.

Members of the Pike County Board questioned whether that was a violation of the right to bear arms under the second amend. Filbert says that having a private militia and being able to own guns were two separate issues. The U.S. Supreme Court decided in an Illinois case in 1886 and again in 2008 that the Second Amendment “does not prevent the prohibition of private paramilitary organizations” in District of Columbia v. Heller.

Mountain and Cobb suggested that the discussion on a county militia be continued at the county’s Agriculture Committee hearing at the county annex building in Pittsfield on March 13th.