During martial law, the government can suspend constitutional rights and enforce an authoritarian power by use of the military. Even fundamental rights and democratic processes can be limited or suspended entirely. Any and every democracy has the potential for martial law.
This is a brief description of martial law:
Martial Law- The exercise of government and control by military authorities over the civilian population of a designated territory (Encyclopedia.com).
Basically, the militant authority will be alternating as the police, the court systems, and the legislature. The Chief Executive will be the commander of the military. It has even been disputed that the President can take it upon himself to declare martial law.
Typically martial law happens during something like a large riot or after an extensive natural disaster has taken place. It is amid these sorts of scary, appalling events that many people are just fine with giving up their rights in order to have “peace of mind” offered by the authoritarian government. As long as rioters are rioting, who needs rights, right?
The troublesome thing is, there have been several instances where martial law has overreached its boundaries, and it is easy to get that way…
When May the Government Declare Martial Law?
- During a time when the civilian government has stopped functioning properly.
- During a time when large, multiple riots are rising or when transgression of the law becomes extensive.
- When civilian authorities have lost authority of order and security has gone out the window.
- When the government is menaced or intimidated.
- In order to secure revolts and rebellions.
- During time of war (be it civil or foreign invasion).
- During a “coup”.
What Could Happen Under Martial Law?
For starters, the U.S. Constitution would be suspended. This is a lot in and of itself: no freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of assembly. Suspension of habeas corpus, of civil rights and of civil law. Take the suspension of freedom of speech, for example. In this case, it’d probably be best to keep that opinion to yourself; as protestors will be more likely to be imprisoned and even possibly shot.
There will be curfews enforced upon the populace. Under martial law, this seemingly “juvenile” thing will actually be strictly enforced. If you ever find yourself having to be out past the curfew, be completely prepared. You’d be best to know the less-traveled ways to get where you are going. If you must travel in a group, remember it is best to keep the groups small. And in all honesty, it is ill-advised to break curfew.
Related reading: Martial Law Survival Strategies You Should Know
There will be troops patrolling the streets for enforcement and checkpoints will be set up for control. There is the potential arrest of anyone who may appear to be “suspect” as well as the holding of a person(s) without any charge. This means no due process…
You own your land? The things on it? Think again (and it is even worse under martial law). Depending on the scenario, many people may be “relocated,” or the authority may need your residence to set up their “camp”. You may prepare your home from take-overs against looters and the like, but you will not effectively prepare it to stave off well-trained and better-equipped forces. Your best bet is to have a bug-out plan in order and relocate yourself as efficiently and effectively as possible.
When they reach your door, chances are that they will confiscate your firearms and potentially your food supplies. Confiscation of firearms is more than likely (and proven by history) going to be one of the first things to occur martial law takes place. Simply owning a firearm at that point will deem you a threat.
It would be wise to have multiple caches of weapons hidden. They should be hidden in a place that only very specific people know about. (Friends/family, you know the deal). You can bet your ass that they will search without consent or cause, and anything that is found is in danger of being snatched up by big brother.
If you have medicine or a large food collection at home, keep it hidden well. This goes for other basic living essentials as well.
Can Martial Law Happen in the U.S.?
Well, of course, it can. It has happened in the past, and could potentially happen again. The question to bear in mind is what exactly might trigger it? Or, will it be localized, regional, or nation-wide? There are many questions that go along with martial law; so much so that it is quite the debatable topic and must be studied with a balanced, thoughtful eye.
Simply by observing the news, be it biased, unbiased, opinionated or “legit”, we can see that this country is a volcano on the brink of major eruption. Across the country, extensive social unrest, public violence, crime and coercion stirs, mixes, and blends into the big cup of ripening national debt. This smells much like trouble as it wafts into the olfactories.
Silent aerial surveillance (drones), high-tech weapons (5-g death grid), and battle-ready vehicles are standards of use nowadays. Not, however, on battlefields used by trained personnel, but by police from American stations throughout our country. We have militarized our police forces practically making them a domestic military force. It seems as if martial law is already, however slowly, becoming a fast reality.
Techniques for Enduring Martial Law
Is there a way to protect yourself during martial law? Why of course there is! While you cannot necessarily obstruct martial law from happening, you certainly can do certain things and prepare yourself to gain control of your very own situation and survive it. You may find yourself in any sort of scenario.
Good Citizen Method:
The best start is to simply keep a low profile. If you are civilly disobedient, chances are you will be of the first to be targeted as a “problem”. This means not falling in line with rioters and protesters. In the chaos of the situation, these will be the first to be attacked. Do not publically “name-call” or call any sort of attention to yourself.
Basically, be a good citizen…As authority struggles, homes and businesses will be looted by those who have suddenly become so opportunistic. Safeguard your home in advance, or at least have a plan. Boards for window and door barricades, etc. Remain in your home with your own previously acquired goods until help arrives.
Understand the genuineness of martial law. For a very specific reason (in most cases), martial law will be declared and if it is in your area, you are one of the citizens functioning under it. In certain instances, martial law may be the best option at the moment. The seemingly stressful parts, such as being bombarded by soldiers and heavy military activity, are there to keep order and keep you safe.
Show respect for the authorities in this case. Some mistakes are bound to happen, that is simply a natural law. Your best bet is just to assist and obey. Just do what they tell you, leave the political activism in the basement.
Suggested reading: Emergency Bunker – What You Need To Know
Do more listening than talking in order to gather intelligence. This is a great way to find out what is going on without making yourself a target. Already, thanks to your prepping, have communication devices at the ready and deeply and intently listen to what others have to say.
While following the rules, also do your best to keep the authority on a leash, so to speak. Even if they seem to be an enemy, the easiest way to keep them in check will be to respect them. Use the tactic of appearing meek and benevolent to your advantage.
Figure out the mandatory rules and jot them down in an inconspicuous journal. Observe the rules closely and keep tabs on them; taking note when they change during chaos or when new circumstances are imposed. Watch news and hearsay to understand better which sources are good and true. There will surely be much-conflicting reports, rumors and conjectures floating all around (as if there already isn’t…).
First off, you will need to know how to survive in a riot situation. Riots are bound to happen, and chances are you may find yourself away from your “bunker” when SHTF. Your main goal is to stay out of harm’s way and elude rioting and unrest. Learning how to navigate these sorts of crowds can be dire to your survival.
Your bunker should be in a well-hidden location designed to keep your family safe for years (if necessary). You should keep your bunker a secret. No one needs to know about it, it is simple as that. It should be fully stocked with survival supplies, including medicine, food, and water.
You are going to want to get to your survival bunker as fast as you possibly can. Staying ahead of the protesters, rioters, and military will be very difficult. Keep your emergency radio on hand for immediate updates. Don’t stop to waste time discussing the approaching martial law with people; get straight to your bunker. And well ahead of time, be sure your loved ones who will be staying in the bunker with you know the different routes to get to it and how to do so efficiently. Keep a radio on hand to stay updated on the status of the martial law.
While listening to your emergency radio for updates, stay in your bunker until you are positive it is safe to leave it. Of course, you can’t stay in there forever, but try to stay there as long as you possibly can before emerging. If you take unnecessary risks by leaving your bunker, you can potentially be putting your entire family in harm’s way.
Going by way of this method takes some serious preparation well before the first signs of any sort of signs of martial law. First, you will want to be trained and knowledgeable in self-defense. This means keeping your body in check, physically and mentally. There are many programs available across a broad spectrum that allow you to learn both physical self-defense arts and the psychological aspects of survival.
In the case that weapons are being confiscated, a little know-how in improvised weaponry will come in extremely handy (especially depending upon where you find yourself when SHTF). Tensions will be extremely high during the civil unrest following the outset of martial law, and you could find yourself anywhere when things go belly up.
You should have your bug out bag ready and on standby. This bag should only contain the items you believe you will need to make it from wherever you are to where you are supposed to be. Keep it light, only packing basic survival gear and survival food/water rations.
Related reading: A Prepper’s Cache, An Aid During Harsh Times
Already have stashed weapons, ammo, supplies, and gear in your bunker or rally point. This may be the rally point that has been established by the local militia. If things are bad enough to be on the verge of martial law takeover, chances are that you and many others will be able to “see it coming”. If this is the case, you can get up with your local militia prior to shtf, and find out the plans to resist a malicious military.
Rendezvous with the militia as soon as possible. Before any signs of martial law, be sure to study on what is happening. You don’t want to find yourself fighting for the wrong reasons. Research is key to everything. Do not follow any order blindly, be it from the military or a local militia.
Signs of Imminent Martial Law
- Civil unrest intensifies and widespread rioting erupts
- The government imposes control of citizen
- Travel bans enforced
- Increased checkpoints
- Internet becomes severely restricted or is banished entirely
Martial law can be good, bad or ugly (potentially all three at once). Being informed about the causes and effects of martial law can give you a major upper hand should it ever strike in your area.
Be prepared for civil unrest, pay attention to major events happening around you, know what threats are likely for your area. Unless otherwise impossible, your best bet is to forget about political activism and keep your head low.
As a Prepper, you will be ready. You will have supplies. This means it is of great importance to not make yourself a target. Use your head. Mirror the actions of your neighbors who probably didn’t prep; pretend you have nothing and never let on that you were actually ready. Lay low. The less human interaction you make yourself a part of, the better.
“He who gives up a measure of liberty for a measure of safety, deserves neither.”
This article has been written by Jonathan Blaylock for Prepper’s Will.