Press "Enter" to skip to content

SJR 2: Stace Nelson Expands Definition of State Militia

I think Stace Nelson is trying to draft me.

Senator Stace Nelson has a puzzler in the Legislative hopper. His Senate Joint Resolution 2 would ask us voters to change our constitutional definition of “militia”.

Article 15 Section 1 currently says the state militia “shall consist of all able-bodied male persons residing in the state, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, except such persons as now are, or hereafter may be, exempted by the laws of the United States or of this state.” SJR 2 would change Article 15 Section 1 to include “any adult able-bodied person residing in the state….”

Stace and Cory Militia
Don’t even think it, Nebraska….

I passed 45 a couple years ago. So SJR 2 could be Stace’s sneaky way to dragoon me into the militia and keep me from blogging.

Then again, Stace is four years older than I am. So maybe the old Marine just got to feeling misty when he realized our constitution bans him from answering the Governor’s call to repel an invasion from Nebraska.

Under statute (SDCL 33-2-2), the militia consists of the National Guard and the unorganized militia. That statute subjects both wings to the Department of Defense age limits, and DoD says folks who haven’t served can enlist in the National Guard only between ages 17 and 35. The state constitution can’t trump federal rules, so I assume SJR 2 would require some rewording of SDCL 33-2-2 to allow all us older folks to join the unorganized militia (and if I have to serve, I want to be in a group officially designated “unorganized”).

We could praise Senator Nelson for his progressive-minded effort to eliminate obsolete sexist and ageist language from our constitution. But since Senator Nelson is such a rock-ribbed conservative, I have to put on my conservative helmet and ask, Is SJR 2 necessary? If Nebraskans or Martians (what if our “die on Mars” ads worked?) do invade, would our current constitutional language really prevent me and even greyer South Dakotans from taking up arms to repel our oppressors? And is it really conservative for Senator Nelson to propose a constitutional amendment that could deny more citizens their liberty and compel them into service of the collective?

Senator Nelson will deny this, but I have to wonder if SJR 2 isn’t really some sneaky reinforcement of the Second Amendment. Our right to bear arms revolves around the necessity of a “well regulated Militia“. Our current constitutional language defining the militia as only healthy men age 18 to 45 could be read to limit the right to bear arms to the narrow class of potential crisis young-dude soldiers. Redefine “militia” to mean any adult who can toss a rock at invaders, and it’s easier to argue that everyone should be packing heat. Pass SJR 2, and in 2019, Senator Nelson will be introducing resolutions authorizing militia presence to protect vital public institutions like universities, courthouses, and the Legislature.

Senator Nelson recruited a lot of the banger-gang (DiSanto, Goodwin, Dennert, Kaiser, Netherton, Phil Jensen…) to co-sponsor this odd little amendment. And maybe he’ll even get Speaker Mickelson and the mainstreamers to support it: after all, cluttering the ballot with another trivial constitutional amendment would reinforce Mickelson’s effort to say we have too many ballot measures and thus drive down public enthusiasm for initiative and referendum.

The Senate referred SJR 2 to Senate State Affairs, on which two co-sponsors, Maher and Netherton, sit. No hearing date has been scheduled.


  1. Darin Larson 2018-01-19 09:04

    Cory, this is absolutely a prop for the 2nd Amendment argument that Stace is so fond of making. I wonder if this came out of ALEC or a right-wing think-tank?

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-19 09:17

    Darin, Senator Nelson tells me SJR 2 springs solely from his imagination and review of the state constitution.

  3. owen reitzel 2018-01-19 09:39

    Two questions. 1. Can Stace define able-bodied? Does these included mentally able? 2. Can’t women can’t be part of the militia?

  4. owen reitzel 2018-01-19 11:50

    Sorry. 3 questions

  5. Jenny 2018-01-19 11:56

    Big Stace just had to have been a football player in his younger years. :)

  6. mike from iowa 2018-01-19 13:00

    Better be careful until it is revealed whether Russians spent campaign money for Drumpf through the NRA as Fusion GPS testimony under oath has claimed.

    If he can get the law changed to force people to have guns then can forced kristian sharia be far behind?

  7. Debbie 2018-01-19 18:48

    Stace I know you are out there lurking- Cowboy up and get some economic work done for your citizens. Montana just got a several billion dollar deal while you were worrying how to feed your hoplophilia . I swear the surrounding states dump their mentally ill off in SD and for whatever reason SD peeps are fascinated with them so much they elect them to office.

  8. leslie 2018-01-19 20:04

    stace – your gun fetish is showing.

    You remind me of Sara Palin trying to normalize AR15, M16 and AK47s for our children. Keep it in your pants man!

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-20 06:45

    Donald, that article is important! It shows a pretty clear link between Nelson’s language and a movement elsewhere to bolster the Second Amendment by broadening the definition of militia.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-20 06:52

    Here’s the companion amendment filed in the Arizona Legislature:

    Article XVI, section 1, Constitution of Arizona, is proposed to be amended as follows if approved by the voters and on proclamation of the Governor:
    1. Composition of militia
    Section 1. The militia of the state of Arizona shall consist of all capable citizens of the THIS state between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, WHO ARE AT LEAST EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE AND WHO ARE CAPABLE OF ACTING IN CONCERT FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE and of those between said ages who shall RESIDENTS OF THIS STATE WHO ARE AT LEAST EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE, WHO ARE CAPABLE OF ACTING IN CONCERT FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE AND WHO have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, residing therein, subject to
    such exemptions as now exist, or as may hereafter be created, by the laws of the United States or of this state [HCR 2002, Arizona Legislature, filed 2017.12.28].

  11. Donald Pay 2018-01-20 14:51

    The whole idea of a militia is obsolete, as is that part of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution. At one time in US history it was probably thought necessary for states to have this rather nebulous pseudo-militia language. I suspect it was more of a way for fat, balding men to think they were contributing something useful to the community by tracking down slaves, keeping the “Orientals” in their proper place, or killing Indians who wandered off the reservation for food because, you know, the government seemed to always renege, like Trump, on their deals. Why not just get rid of the whole militia language, if there’s a question about what gun rights people have?

    Stace’s language doesn’t really deal with the “well-regulated” part of the militia question, and then there’s the issue of competence. Some older folks have dementia, there are some folks with intellectual disabilities and severe mental illness are may be considered “able bodied.” Great, I get to be in front of some guy with .

    Real militias, as opposed to the ones in Stace’s fantasies where men will be boys, have folks who cook, feed the horses, and scoop up the horse poop. We could put some folks, like me, in the cooking wagon, etc., rather than having us carry muskets in Stace’s halucinations, but then there goes my gun rights.

    Anyway, it makes more sense to stop eff-ing around with the whole militia thing as if tacking on some politically correct language will make an archaic and obsolete idea any better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.