The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “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.” Many citizens know and agree with the second part of that clause to keep and bear arms, but how many pay attention to the first part of the clause?

Some citizens throughout the Golden Triangle are taking the initiative in what they believe is the Constitutional right to form a local militia. David W. Smith of Mauriceville, commander of the Golden Triangle Unit of the Texas State Militia, said any county sheriff in Texas has the authority to call on the militia for a huge incident and where the sheriff’s office is out manned.

“We’re there to help or any situation that needs firepower,” Smith said. “The sheriff has a right to deputize others. We’re a credible group of citizens who can be called in. We’re the last line of defense against tyranny.”

Smith said another instance for the militia to be activated is if the federal government decides not to do their job or uphold the law and a state of lawlessness occurs. Then the militia may step in to correct things.

“If there’s a disaster, who are we to rely on? The federal government? We’re supposed to be self-sustaining,” he said. “There’s no difference between us. All American and all Texas citizens are responsible to step up. It’s the right of every American.”

Organized militias, meanwhile, such as the National Guard and Texas State Guard, are controlled by governmental forces. In fact, Smith said Congress has the legal authority to support training of militias. The Texas State Militia began a unit in Beaumont two years ago. It has since dissolved and evolved into the Golden Triangle Unit.

“We have a pretty good sized group. We have a website. We’re law biding citizens. The founding of our nation is because of militias. It’s not a new thing,” Smith said.

Smith believes militias are about everyday citizens protecting and defending the Constitution. He sees the influx of immigrants entering the country who want to change the government, such as establishing Islamic Sharia Law, as opposed to the current law of the land.

“We’re a Constitutional Republic, established by our Founding Fathers,” he said.

The militia meets once a month to train. Training includes understanding weapons and their proper use, shooting skills, basic maneuvering and self-defense after encountering the enemy. Training ranges from basic to Tier I which is special operations. Members must supply their own weapons. The training is sometimes planned one year in advance. Smith became involved in the Texas State Militia after a friend of his who served in a local unit invited him. Smith is also a veteran of the Army.

“I was skeptical at first. I researched and dug into the state and federal Constitutions. I was very cautious before I became involved what its intentions and purposes were,” he said.

Smith said he began studying the Constitution for himself while studying political science while stationed in Kosovo in 2006-2006. His professor was from Romania and taught the Constitution as an outsider looking in.

“I began studying and reading the Constitution for myself. Not have someone dictate it to me what they think it means and twist it,” Smith said. “It’s people who twist biblical passages to make it say whatever they want it to.”

Smith gave as an example the Concealed Handgun License in Texas is unconstitutional because it registers gun owners. For those who don’t understand militias or they are afraid of them Smith said citizens need to educate themselves.

“Some don’t understand. They have a fear. Don’t judge militias by Timothy McVeigh. The media mislabels. We’re not anti-government or anti-law. We make sure laws are upheld,” he said.

Smith added militias also protect everyone against unconstitutional laws. For an example of an unjust law, Smith said FEMA confiscated citizen’s guns in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and how they can happen anywhere in the future.

The Golden Triangle Unit is holding a recruitment drive for those interested in joining the Texas State Militia. Smith said it’s a community wide effort to get as many involved as possible. The unit is also looking for members with a wide set of skills, from taking care of children during training, cooking, loading, trapping, etc. The Golden Triangle Unit will hold a meet and greet at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 23 at the First United Pentecostal Church in Vidor.

Keith Merritt, Orange County sheriff, said if the county sheriff sees a need for assistance, they may call the state militia, such as the National Guard or the Texas State Guard who were sent in by the governor in after Hurricane Rita, and authorize them to work a disaster or an event. Working with the local militias, however, involves less red tape, Merritt said.

“They have less restrictions,” he said. “It does raise some red flags though. I only the two (David W. Smith and Christopher Schexnaider of the Texas State Militia). They’ve called in to us to tell us they’re having exercises ahead of time. There’s been no issues.”

Merritt said it is possible for the county sheriff to deputize militia members, but he has never known in the history of Orange County where the posse was activated. Instead, a combination of law enforcement resources are used rather than the posse.

“We’ve received no complaints (about the militias). We stay out of their training. Some like them, some don’t,” he said. Merritt added he doesn’t foresee any problems with the militias in the future.