About two dozen people showed up for a muster call to form an “unorganized militia” in Smyth County on Saturday evening, an event that was formally cancelled shortly before it was scheduled to start.
Folks trickled to the planned meeting site in front of Smyth County Courthouse in Marion around 5 p.m. Attendees were encouraged to come with an unloaded rifle, “preferably a variant of the AR-15 platform.” Many wore handguns strapped to their hips.
A letter posted on Facebook announced the call publicly with the group saying it was operating under Virginia Code 44.1, which defines the composition of militia. It reads: “The militia of the Commonwealth of Virginia shall consist of all able-bodied residents of the Commonwealth who are citizens of the United States and all other able-bodied persons resident in the Commonwealth who have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, who are at least 16 years of age and, except as hereinafter provided, not more than 55 years of age. The militia shall be divided into three classes: the National Guard, which includes the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard; the Virginia Defense Force; and the unorganized militia.”
The letter said the muster’s purpose “is to preserve tranquility, peace, and civil order by beginning to organize volunteers in the event that the full organization of the militia is required to defend the rights and liberties of the citizens of Smyth County.”
The letter was posted by a Facebook group called Smyth Muster, which is closed to public viewing.
The planned speakers for the call were not able to come for various personal reasons, including one who had tested positive for COVID-19, according to a militia member from Floyd County who ended up speaking to the group.
The Floyd County militia member declined to identify himself to the press or answer a reporter’s questions. The letter issuing the muster call invited volunteers from neighboring counties or other Virginia communities “to present themselves as volunteers.”
The Floyd County man spoke to those gathered about forming a local militia and a notebook was passed around for people to sign up. He also encouraged those present to make sure they were registered to vote and to vote while encouraging their friends and neighbors to do the same.
The gathering dispersed peacefully after about an hour.
In early January, a group calling itself Concerned Citizens of Floyd also took to social media to issue a “Militia Muster Call,” encouraging local residents to volunteer for an “unorganized militia.”
Late last year, the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors voted to “preserve a group of residents who could form a militia were such a body needed” in response to fears the General Assembly would pass gun control laws in its session earlier this year.
Following Tazewell’s lead, in December, a crowd called for the Wythe County Board of Supervisors to form a militia. That county did not act on the request.
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