The question of militias -- their legality, what role they have, if any, in civil society, etc. -- has come into sharp focus because of local events. Nationally, President Trump received widespread backlash after refusing to condemn militia groups, instead telling them to "stand back and stand by." In our own backyard, armed private citizens took to the streets of downtown Sandpoint with the stated purpose of keeping the peace -- despite the fact that Sandpoint taxpayers have a professional police force trained for doing just that.
In light of these and other events, we thought it would be useful to share the following document from the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP) at Georgetown University Law Center:
The Institution's stated mission "is to use the power of the courts to defend American constitutional rights and values." Toward that end, the Institute created a fact sheet for each state.
The biggest takeaway is this: "A private militia that attempts to activate itself for duty, outside of the authority of the state or federal government, is illegal."
If you witness armed groups near a polling place or voter registration drive, call Election Protection at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) to report what you see.