Last modified on 1 December 2008, at 20:59

Talk:Opening fire

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Dispute over US law

Yes indeed, the military is forbidden by law to engage civilians within the US unless martial law is declared, they are not a police force. Markr 11:18, 1 December 2008 (EST)

Two questions:
  1. Does this only apply to federal forces such as the Army, or also to National Guard units under control of a state governor?
  2. Are you saying that the National Guard is not allowed to return fire, if attacked by civilians?
We need documentation for the above, as the issues involved have a bearing on the Kent State incident, as well as the Fallujah incident overseas.
The obvious part is that armed men should not wantonly kill unarmed civilians, especially when they're peacefully going about their business. The difficult part is determining when this rule is being violated. --Ed Poor Talk 11:22, 1 December 2008 (EST)
  • [1] We have no article on the posse comitatus act; anyone want to create? Karajou 11:24, 1 December 2008 (EST)
"The U.S. military operates under the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the direct use of federal troops "to execute the laws" of the United States. The courts have interpreted this to mean that the military is prohibited from any active role in direct civilian law enforcement, such as search, seizure or arrest of civilians."

Note: National Guard operates under slightly different rules since it is a State body under control of the State Governor. Markr 11:46, 1 December 2008 (EST)

Andy would know about the Posse Comitatus Act. Wikipedia might be right when they say:

There are a number of situations in which the Act does not apply. These include:

  • National Guard units while under the authority of the governor of a state;
  • Troops used under the order of the President of the United States pursuant to the Insurrection Act, as was the case during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots.

What do you think, guys? --Ed Poor Talk 11:48, 1 December 2008 (EST)


I think the phrase is, "Commence firing!" --Ed Poor Talk 12:06, 1 December 2008 (EST)

  • It seems that "to open fire" can mean (a) to respond properly to an attack by beginning to shoot, as well as (b) to be the first of two sides to start shooting. This ambiguity provides openings for fallacious arguments. I had hoped to clear it up by declaring that open fire only means idea (b), but I was wrong. So I need another way to say the same thing. Please help me. --Ed Poor Talk 15:59, 1 December 2008 (EST)