US Congress And NM Legislature Must Ban “Citizen Militias” Or Enact Citizens Militia Registration Act; Sweeping Responsible Gun Control Legislation Also Needed

On June 15, a man was shot in Old Town over the “La Jornada” (The Journey) sculpture in front of the Albuquerque Museum. The shooting occurred during a protest for the removal of the figures of Juan de Onate de Salazar in the sculpture.

During the protest, there were 5 to 6 heavily armed New Mexico Civil Guard (NMCG) members, some dressed in military camouflage, present trying to “protect” the sculpture. It was reported that the shooting occurred when at least 3 of the protesters attacked a person identified as Steven Baca who was walking away from them. Steven Baca was struck in the head with a skateboard and Baca drew a gun, shot numerous times, with one shot hitting one of the protesters. The shot protester was rushed to the hospital and was listed in critical but stable condition. The shooting and violence resulted in the City taking the single figure of Onate in the sculpture grouping down.

Civil Guard members have said they take zero responsibility for the shooting and what happened at the June 15 protest and that Steven Baca is not a member of their group. They also have said Baca was “justified” in shooting a protester and believe their armed presence stopped more bloodshed.

NMCG Chaplin and Founder Bryce Provance said that after the gunfire, his men set their “scope” on Steven Baca and “would’ve blown his brains out” if he kept shooting. NMCG member John Burks, an Army veteran who served in “quite a few deployments” said that he could not “specifically speak on” his kicking Steven Baca’s gun away to “secure the crime scene“ but did say “People said we protected him after he shot. … No, we detained him and formed a perimeter around him so that he didn’t pick that gun back up and shoot more people.”

On June 16, the Albuquerque Police Department released a photo of the 13 guns and 34 magazines taken from militia members at the protest. In the APD photo there are 4 semi-automatic rifles. A controversy is now brewing over the handling of the protest by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).


Both Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Mayor Tim Keller reacted in no uncertain terms about the NMCG being at the protest.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the militiamen had one reason for being there:

“to menace protesters. … there is no place for a group seeking to terrorize citizens.”

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller told the militia to stay away and said:

“We’re just trying to send a clear signal that we never want vigilantes in our town. We never want firearms at protests. … And both of those things … have been a dangerous combination for our community that we don’t want to see.”


The United States Congress needs to take another look at the language of the he Second Amendment of the United States Constitution which reads:

“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.”

Over the years, the United State Supreme Court has expanded the Second Amendment right to right to keep and bear arms. It is referred to as the “right to bear arms” and is a right for people to possess weapons or arms for their own defense.

“In United States v. Cruikshank (1876), the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that the right to arms preexisted the Constitution and in that case and in Presser v. Illinois (1886) recognized that the Second Amendment protected the right from being infringed by Congress.

In United States v. Miller (1939), the Court again recognized that the right to arms is individually held and, citing the Tennessee case of Aymette v State, indicated that it protected the right to keep and bear arms that are “part of the ordinary military equipment” or the use of which could “contribute to the common defense.”

In its first opportunity to rule specifically on whose right the Second Amendment protects, District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Court ruled in the landmark case that the amendment protects an individual right “to keep and carry arms in case of confrontation,” not contingent on service in a militia. The Supreme Court also said that restrictions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, on the carrying of arms in sensitive locations, and with respect to the conditions on the sale of firearms could be permissible under the constitution.”


“Private Militias”, more commonly known by the general public as “Citizen Militias” are loosely defined as “armed military groups that are composed of private citizens and not recognized by the United State Government or state governments.” Upwards of half the states maintain laws regulating private militias. Generally, these laws prohibit the parading and exercising of armed private militias in public, but do not forbid the formation of private militias.


The State of Wyoming is an exception. A Wyoming statute prohibits the very formation of private militias. Wyoming State Statutes provides:

“No body of men other than the regularly organized national guard or the troops of the United States shall associate themselves together as a military company or organization, or parade in public with arms without license of the governor.”

Section 19-1-106, Wyoming Statutes Annotated

Wyoming statute also prohibits the public funding of private militias. Anyone convicted of violating the provisions of the law is subject to a fine of not more than $1,000, imprisonment of six months, or both, for each offense.


“Legal and political scholars have argued that citizen militias are driven by what is known as the insurrection theory of the Second Amendment. Under this view, the Second Amendment grants an unconditional right to bear arms for self-defense and for “rebellion against a tyrannical government” defined as when a government turns oppressive and private citizens have a duty to “insurrect” or take up arms against their own government.

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a qualified rejection of the insurrection theory. According to the Court in Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494, 71 S. Ct. 857, 95 L. Ed. 1137 (1951):

“[W]hatever theoretical merit there may be to the argument that there is a ‘right’ to rebellion against dictatorial governments is without force where the existing structure of the government provides for peaceful and orderly change.”

Legal scholars have interpreted this to mean that as long as the government provides for free elections and trials by jury, private citizens have no right to take up arms against the government.”

In states that do not outlaw them, private militias are limited only by the criminal laws applicable to all. In other words, if an armed private militia seeks to parade and exercise in a public area, its members will be subject to arrest on a variety of laws, including disturbing-the-peace, firearms, or even riot statutes.

Links to quoted sources are here:


Citizen Militias are not regulated in the State of New Mexico and there is no comprehensive federal law that regulates them under the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. Those who take it upon themselves to associate and bear arms calling themselves “citizen militias” take it to the extreme when they attend protests fully armed in military attire proclaiming they are their to assume the responsibility law enforcement to protect people and property. Such attendance amounts to nothing but vigilantism.

As things escalate with mass murders and protests, the State of New Mexico and the United State Congress need to enact legislation that defines what a “citizen miltia” is and either ban them entirely or regulate all citizens militias.

If the United States Congress, and for that matter New Mexico, does not ban citizen miltia’s. A Citizen’s Militia Registration Act needs to be enacted. Citizen militias need to be define along similar lines of how “gangs” are defined under federal criminal law.

A “citizens militia” could be defined as:

“An association of three or more individuals, whose members collectively identify themselves by adopting a group identity employing one or more of the following: a common name, slogan, identifying sign, symbol, flag, uniforms or military apparel or other physical identifying marking, style or color of clothing, whose purpose in part is to engage in the protection of private property and other people. A registered citizens militia may employ rules for joining and operating within the militia and members may meet on a recurring basis.”

A Citizen Militia Registration Act would require citizen militias to:

To allow only American Citizens to be members of a citizen militia.

Register with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATFE) within the United States Department of Justice.

Require members to register their firearms with the ATFE.

Pay yearly regulation fees and firearm certification fees and carry liability insurance.

Identify all their members by name, address and contact information.

Prohibit felons from joining.

Limit their authority and powers so as to prevent militias to engage in law enforcement activities.

Require members to pass criminal background checks and psychological testing.

Mandate training and instructions on firearm use and safety.

Require all militias and its members to agree to follow all local and federal laws.

Failure to register as mandated by federal would be a felony.


Since 1995, the United States has had 95 mass shootings, including seven of the 11 deadliest. There is no doubt we have a deadly mass shooting epidemic on our hands.

The mass shooting with guns in the last 10 years include: Orlando, Florida (49 killed, 50 injured), Blacksburg, Va. (32 killed), San Ysidro, Cal (21 killed), San Bernardino, (14 killed), Edmond Oklahoma (14 killed), Fort Hood (13 killed), Binghamton, NY (13 killed) Washington, DC (12 killed), Aurora, Colorado (12 killed), Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Conn (21 children and 6 adult staff members killed) and the largest mass shooting in this country’s history that occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada with at least 59 dead and at least 515 wounded and the Parkland/Stoneridge High School shooting that resulted in 17 children’s deaths, El Paso,Texas, 23 dead and 23 injured.

“The deadliest mass shootings in recent history have had one thing in common: the perpetrator used an assault rifle. These weapons possess an incredible amount of killing power, and amplify the destructive will of the person who carries out an attack. Nine people died and 27 were injured in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio in an attack that lasted 32 seconds. The killer used an AR-15 style assault rifle. Since 1999, there have been 115 mass shootings (defined below) in which 941 people were killed and 1,431 were injured. Of those 115 attacks, 32 — just over a quarter — involved semi-automatic rifles. But those attacks accounted for 40% of all deaths and 69% of all injuries. Since 2017, 12 of the 31 mass shootings involved assault rifles — which caused 39% of the deaths and 92% of the injuries. That includes the Las Vegas massacre — which alone accounts for almost 40% of all mass shooting injuries since 1999. The perpetrator of that shooting used over 20 assault rifles during that attack.”

After so many mass killings, it is difficult to refute that something needs to be done about semi-automatic and automatic guns such as the AR-15 which are the type used in all the mass shootings. Semi-automatic guns are the weapons of choice that are carried by the citizen militias when they attend protests dressed in military garb and fully armed in order to intimidate.


Assault weapons are also the weapon of choice for Citizen Militias. The regulation of Citizens Militias by congress in all likely will not solve a related problem and that is the proliferation of guns in the United States. Reason and responsible gun legislation on both the state and national level.

In New Mexico, our legislature should consider:

1. Repeal the New Mexico Constitutional provision that allows the “open carry” of firearms. This would require a public vote and no doubt generate heated discussion given New Mexico’s high percentage of gun ownership for hunting, sport or hobby.

2. Prohibit in New Mexico the sale of “ghost guns” parts. Ghost guns are guns that are manufactured and sold in parts without any serial numbers to be assembled by the purchaser and that can be sold to anyone.

3. Requiring in New Mexico the mandatory purchase of “liability insurance” with each gun sold as is required for all operable vehicles bought and driven in New Mexico.

4. Enact a gun violence restraining order and extreme risk protection process to temporarily prohibit an individual deemed by a judge to pose a danger to self or others, from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition and allow law local law enforcement to remove any firearms or ammunition already in the individual’s possession.

5. Restrict and penalize firearm possession by or transfer to a person subject to a domestic violence protection order or a person, including dating partners, convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor.

6. Mandate the school systems and higher education institutions “harden” their facilities with more security doors, security windows, and security measures and alarm systems and security cameras tied directly to law enforcement 911 emergency operations centers.

The Unites States Congress needs to consider:

1. Implementation of background checks on the sale of all guns.

2. Close the “Charleston loophole” or “delayed denial” where federally licensed dealers can sell guns if three business days pass without FBI clearance.

3. Call for the update and enhancement of the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check system (NCIS).

4. Institute mandatory extended waiting periods for all gun purchases.

5. Implement mandatory handgun licensing, permitting, training, and registration requirements.

6. Ban “bump-fire stocks” as was used in the Las Vegas mass shooting and other dangerous accessories.

7. Ban future manufacture and sale of all assault weapons and regulate existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act of 1934, and initiate a federal gun buyback program.

8. Impose limits on high capacity magazines.

9. Prohibit firearm sale or transfer to and receipt or possession by an individual who has: (1) been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor hate crime, or (2) received from any court an enhanced hate crime misdemeanor sentence.

10. Institute mandatory child access prevention safe storage requirements and prohibit the sales of handguns with “hair triggers”.

11. Provide more resources and treatment for people with mental illness.

12. Enhance accountability of federally licensed firearms dealers.

13. Implement micro stamped code on each bullet that links it to a specific gun.

14. Produce ‘x-mart guns’ with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or biometric recognition (fingerprint) capability.

15. Limit gun purchases to one gun per month to reduce trafficking and straw purchases.

16. Prohibit open carry of firearms.

17. Digitize Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire (ATF) gun records.

18. Require licensing for ammunition dealer.


Until something is done with the enactment of citizen militia prohibition or regulation, citizen militias will be nothing more than vigilantes on the hunt using intimidation tactics to interfere with people’s first amendment rights as they attempt to assume law enforcement duties and responsibilities. Further without reasonable and responsible gun control legislation New Mexico and the United States need to brace for more mass shootings and violence given our toxic political climate during an election year and in the age of Trump given his propensity to call his followers to arms as our “law enforcement” President.

A link to a related blog article is here:

Details Emerge Of New Mexico Civil Guard Actions At June 15 Onate Protest; “Would’ve Blown His Brains Out If He Kept Shooting”; Trump’s Call To Arms; Learning Cool Things and Barbecuing On Fridays!

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.