LTC Robert Bateman ignores the law

It is alarming when a serving military man publicly ignores the law. It is doubly so when he is not only a Lieutenant Colonel but also a professor who has taught at the military academy at West Point. LTC Robert Bateman’s recent Esquire blog misstates the law and misunderstands the role guns play in US society.

LTC Bateman asserts “As of 1903, the “militia” has been known as the National Guard” and links to an analysis of the act. The reality is quite different if you actually read the first paragraph of the act.

That the militia shall consist of every able-bodied male citizen of the respective States, Territories, and the District of Columbia, and every able-bodied male of foreign birth who has declared his intention to become a citizen, who is more than eighteen and less than forty-five years of age, and shall be divided into two classes—the organized militia, to be known as the National Guard of the State, Territory, or District of Columbia, or by such other designations as may be given them by the laws of the respective States or Territories, and the remainder to be known as the Reserve Militia.

In other words, the heart of his argument that the militia is not the whole of the people rests at the very beginning on a lie. In the case of an ignorant youth, this might be excused but not a high ranking military professional who has had the responsibility of teaching our future military leaders. It is inexcusable. Given further legislative developments since 1903 regarding discrimination based on sex, I doubt that even this definition of militia is supportable at present because it is too narrow but even this outdated definition is an ocean compared to the teacup that LTC Bateman wants to leave for 2nd amendment rights.

Since it’s established that LTC Bateman doesn’t necessarily respect the truth, it’s important to check on the rest of his assertions. One of them is that “Weapons are there for the ‘well regulated militia.’ Their use, therefore, must be in defense of the nation.” The police are not in the national guard, does their use of arms defend the nation? Are they a well regulated militia? Is he calling for the disarmament of the police? Perhaps he does, perhaps he doesn’t. By the terms of his argument, they shouldn’t be armed but perhaps he did not want to completely embarrass himself. The alternative is that he is arguing that the police are a militia. This militarization of the police is an entirely different kind of problem, no less disconnected from the American tradition or problematic for our liberties but different than the question of their armament.

LTC Bateman repeatedly says in this article “hunting is valid”. Then again he also says that weapons “must be in defense of the nation”. So why is hunting valid? I’m guessing because it polls well enough that gun controllers would earn permanent minority status if they were to be perceived as anti-hunting and he personally knows a few hunters who he’d like to continue to see socially.

Another assertion is that “No 7-11 in history has ever been held up with” a black powder musket. That might be true though black powder firearms robbery is not exactly unheard of, though rare.

A little investigation yields the possibility that the whole thing is part of a joke of a presidential run which includes such gems as the forced deportation of gun owners (unclear whether they can come back afterwards) and bringing back the draft. So one viable theory might be that he’s just kidding here.

I’m inclined to a different one, that we should feel sorry for LTC Bateman and his recent stroke that has apparently affected his mental capacity. Our ire should be saved for Esquire magazine and its editorial staff that has encouraged this man to nationally embarrass himself.

cross posted: Flit-TM

35 thoughts on “LTC Robert Bateman ignores the law”

  1. Welcome to the new normal military, in service to Obama and his ideals. This no more than a harbinger similar to the editorials on the obsolescence of the Constitution, the necessity to repeal term limits for Obama, and the public calls for Obama to rule by decree.

    First it foolish, then it is familiar, then it is normal, then it is law.

  2. I’m only saddened by the fact that a military officer who swore to “protect and defend the constitution”, etc, evidently no longer feels bound by his oath.

  3. The truly sad bit is that I cut the post short. There’s another entire issue on defensive gun use and what sort of society LTC Bateman’s initiative would leave us were it to become law.

  4. Bateman’s post is shoddily reasoned and full of obvious falsehoods, as most of the comments in response to it point out. Probably Esquire is using it to troll for web traffic.

  5. The writer has an agenda to promote himself and is looking to provoke links and responses. He succeeded at that. Nothing in his piece is couched intelligently or seriously. Don’t feed the troll.

  6. I sent him an e-mail pointing out that the violent crime problem is one of inner city ghettos. The crime and violence rate of the US if those groups are excluded is equal to or less than that of Europe and the UK. He responded to me “The highest incidence of death by firearm is in Alaska. Explain.”

    I responded “Small sample.”

    It may be an interesting exchange. I began by asking if he was serious. It sounds like he is. I suspect he is aiming for flag rank in the Obama military.

  7. Suicide.

    He’s conflating suicides and homicides as “gun deaths”.

    Alaska has the highest suicide rate in the USA:

    Suicide rates don’t correlate well with gun ownership rates.

    Violent-crime rates correlate highly with ethnicity, race and perhaps other social variables, not with gun ownership rates.

    Early-20th Century gun controllers argued that blacks and immigrants couldn’t be trusted with firearms. Modern gun controllers argue that no one can be trusted with firearms. Progress.

  8. ” There’s another entire issue on defensive gun use and what sort of society LTC Bateman’s initiative would leave us were it to become law.”

    Perhaps as well off as almost all other first world countries.

    No, go ahead, kill each other with guns, continue with your wild west fantasy, it was just a suggestion.

  9. Pengun, stick your face in the fact that the USA is ethnically diverse, that most American communities have violent-crime rates as low or lower than those of England and other prohibitionist countries they resemble demographically, and that other countries with severe gun restrictions (South Africa, Brazil) have very high murder rates, and get back to us.

  10. Every time I read this act I get p*ssed at the blatant age discrimination. I WANT IN!!! Perhaps in 1903 it made sense to stop at age 45, but surely now with our greatly improved health and increased lifespan we can qualify for the reserve militia at least until 65, can’t we? ;-)

  11. PenGun,

    I appreciate your attempt to lighten up an adult conversation with levity, but I suggest you stop.

    You’re just making a fool of yourself, and aren’t being very funny.

  12. “The Bateman” as he was known over at Abu Muqawama is a Lib and apparently a political gold-digger. When you’re affiliated with CNAS, you’re basically in the Armed Wing of the Progressive Faction. Armed and I dare say quite well heeled [$$$] thanks to the election of He who has come among us.

  13. “Every time I read this act I get p*ssed at the blatant age discrimination. I WANT IN!!! Perhaps in 1903 it made sense to stop at age 45, but surely now with our greatly improved health and increased lifespan we can qualify for the reserve militia at least until 65, can’t we? ;-)”

    I’m 67 and can easily qualify for almost any military force, I am a bit of a monster though. I almost feel your pain. ;)

  14. I’m 67 and can easily qualify for almost any military force…

    Senile so soon. Sad.

    (I’m 54 and I *was* in the US Army.)

  15. If LTC Bateman wants to start a Right vs. Left Sectarian Civil War in America, his plan is a good way to start one.

    Also pretty dumb, given the demographics of gun and ammunition sales since Obama was elected President.

  16. PenGun – LTC Bateman blatantly mischaracterized an easily looked up law. He plays in the arena of being an intellectual, a published author on military affairs with two books to his credit and many shorter pieces. This is disqualifying, don’t you agree?

    I’ll leave the subject of defensive gun use for another time. Perhaps leaving most of that out was a better option than I realized.

    Trent Telenko – Civilian arms are more heavily distributed in red areas than blue, that’s true. Whatever side takes up arms and takes to the field of combat will end up facing the US military as a rebel force. The smart extreme lefties are trying to provoke that while the smart righties say keep your powder dry and don’t take the bait.

  17. The argument that 2nd amendment rights are restricted to “black powder muskets” and similar sorts of antiques can be applied other amendments. Take the first amendment freedom of the press. By the same logic it would be restricted to sheet feed flat presses using hand set type. What would the NYTimes say about that. Fourth Amendment protections of papers would not apply to computer hard drives.

    Those of you who gripe about the age and sex rules in the Federal militia statute should look at your state laws. For instance Ohio law (RC §5923.01) says:

    (A) The Ohio organized militia consist of all citizens of the state who are not permanently handicapped … who are more than seventeen years, and not more than sixty-seven years, of age unless exempted … and who are members of … The Ohio national guard …

    (D) The unorganized militia consists of those citizens of the state as described in division (A) of this section who are not members of the Ohio organized militia.

  18. T.M. Lutus said:

    >>Whatever side takes up arms and takes to the field of combat
    >>will end up facing the US military as a rebel force.

    This presumes that a 2nd Amendment suppressing US Government can retain the loyalty of the entire US military.

    That is not a given.

    Historically the marginal suppression of slavery in new US states shattered the US Military on sectional lines.

    Suppression of the 2nd Amendment promises to be at least as divisive.

  19. ““Senile so soon. Sad.”

    From one week ago. At about 1300′ up from the lake I just climbed up from. Not quite an an hour, it was pretty steep, quads hurt for a couple of days, skipped a legs day because of it.:”

    So, you’re bragging that your legs get more circulation than your brain ? :)

  20. “So, you’re bragging that your legs get more circulation than your brain ? :)”

    LOL. I tell myself this is the case when I’m looking at a bunch of way too steep rock and actually go for it. Scared myself on that one a few times.

  21. “From one week ago. At about 1300′ up from the lake I just climbed up from. Not quite an an hour, it was pretty steep, quads hurt for a couple of days, skipped a legs day because of it.:”

    So you’d be good at running away. About what I had expected.

  22. Trent Telenko – So, on an issue that we’re winning legislatively and intellectually, you’d like to pull out the civil war card.

    Why? How is this not stuck on stupid?

  23. T. M. Lutas,

    There is stupid and there is reality.


    Since when has winning the arguement with the public mattered to the Supreme Court?

    We are effectively one Supreme Court justice appointment away from gun confiscation…and there is no Senate filibuster.

    Mass Federal government gun confiscation is one of my top three “The Spanish Civil War is coming to America!” scenarios.

  24. “We are effectively one Supreme Court justice appointment away from gun confiscation…and there is no Senate filibuster.”

    This is true. But a Constitutional crisis short of Civil War would happen first. Congress would pass a law undoing whatever they did, possibly by defining the scope of the RKBA Clauses to included personal firearms. If the Sup Ct tried to defy that, and if the President ordered mass confiscation, there would almost certainly be armed resistance. God spare us.

  25. I know Lt.Col. Bateman, after a fashion, having been on a listserv with him for a number of years and having mutual acquaintences but I have never met him personally, though I was once the target of a weird Bateman temper tantrum/personal attack.

    Bob is an academic historian and as an officer has held important posts of planning and operational responsibility in combat theaters. Not sure about unit command history. I have never heard a complaint about his professionalism as an Army officer or at West Point and on topics on which he is well informed, he regularly comes across as smart (if not particularly nice).

    On the other hand, at least in his online incarnation, when it comes to domestic partisan politics, Bateman has trouble playing well with others. His politics are, I guess from having read many of his posts, mainstream liberal Democratic, which is out of the norm for most military officers and as far as I am aware, Bob’s academic specialization in military history has little or nothing to do with modern gun control policy. I would not give his opinion much credence on that subject or environmental policy or welfare reform or any other hot button political topic which he has no background in but which I’m sure he will argue relentlessly until the cows come home like every other dude whiling away time on the internet

    Bateman once had a long online debate with Victor Davis Hanson on the nature of Western warfare

  26. “So you’d be good at running away. About what I had expected.”

    Actually I’d lay off the weights if that was my plan, too much muscle in the quads and hammys does make you a bit slower, although it helps on the slopes.

    I don’t have to run man, I’m a monster and we have no guns here. ;)

    Now uphill I will play ’cause I love “up”. Race you to the top of that mountain.

  27. As a former assistant professor of economics at West Point and retired LTC with a primary specialty of armor/armored cavalry and secondary specialty of operations (serving at division and corps headquarters), I’m skeptical of brother Bateman’s assumed credentials. LTC’s do not develop or implement important theater strategy or tactics. Colonels and generals do that and the LTC’s and majors do the supporting staff work. Secondly, with a teaching/research field of military history, his total misconstruction of the 1903 law dealing with guard, reserve and militia indicates he is either entirely inept in his field or simply dishonest, or both.

    As to progressives/liberals being in the minority among the officer corps, probably not true. Certainly among the flag officers they are in the majority. They are politically selected to serve in positions that reward top down authoritarian leadership within an organization that is a centrally controlled, comprehensive 24/7/365 organization. At flag officer level this becomes well aligned with the statist, progressive ideology. Junior officers tend to be more conservative, but the weeding out process soon drives many out to pursue civilian, less stifling careers. The officer corps is widely recruited geographically and most bear some effects of out higher educational system’s leftward bent. The enlisted folks are much more representative of conservative areas such as the south and midwest. These are areas of high gun ownership, but mostly for sporting uses. Veterans have high gun ownership rates, often for self-defense, militia (in the broadest sense) as well as sporting purposes.

    If there was a push to confiscate privately held guns, many of the enlisted would be the ones that would have pause to consider their support. The habit of discipline within the military, combined with targeted preparatory “training” about security threats, including misconstruing the 2nd Amendment, would probably be sufficient for most of them to reluctantly support the effort. Soldiers tend to be focused on their close environment (unit) and that is somewhat isolated from the society at large. There has been recent, increasing evidence of indoctrination of soldiers along these lines under the guise of domestic terrorism training. While there might be difficulty in using the military as part of the confiscation or any violent blowback presently, it might well be possible in the future. In the areas of high gun ownership rates, the state guard units would be much harder to co-opt, largely because the officers tend to be from those same areas and are not as responsive/sympathetic to national politics/policy.

    If or when the military are called on to support such an effort to disarm the population, it may well depend on where or which units are tasked as to their fidelity to that mission. Right now, I guess it wouldn’t work well, but in five years or so, it might. For example, in Texas, I’m pretty sure the Texas Guard would respond to the governor’s call to oppose any such confiscation and to oppose any national military operations in support of such a policy. I think such a confiscation program would be unopposed in a number of states except by the militia in the broadest sense.

    Shot guns, rifles and pistols don’t stand up well against the full might and coordination/intell capabilities of the military. On the other hand, there are upwards of 100 million gun owners so it would come down to ability to cobble some sort of organization and willingness to take horrific casualties. Perhaps ad hoc falling in on sympathetic guard units would provide some command and control. I think anyone who would push this to the point of confiscation and military involvement in the foreseeable future would be a fool. Mutual assured destruction.

    And that is why Bateman has it all wrong.


  28. Trent Telenko – Reality is a bit more complicated. First the SC would have to have a vacancy among the current Heller majority, then a friendly Senate would have to fill it with a gun grabber. Then there would need to be an appropriate case for that new majority to reverse Heller. Now Heller was argued in 2008 and Miller, the last major gun case was in 1939. I think it’s reasonable to say that the SC is not very fond of taking gun cases. Furthermore, I anticipate a less Democratic Senate after the 2014 elections. Absent an assassination, I think we’re not going to see a rabid anti-gun SC nominee out of Obama.

    A further bit of reassurance. Chief Justice Roberts is relatively young and fully aware of procedure. I think we can count on him to assign any gun case with a liberal majority to himself and to do the gymnastics necessary to accommodate the liberal majority’s result without giving them the confiscation justification that might kick off a civil war.

    Zenpundit – I am curious what you think of the impact of his blatant misstatement of the Dick Act on his professional reputation. What else hasn’t he checked?

    Death 6 – I have long held that the real threat of civilian firearms to progressive tyranny is not taking to the field and open combat but in ambush and assassination. The President will be well protected but I don’t think they can guarantee the safety of every county commissioner or sheriff and without those footsoldiers at the lower levels of government any totalitarian program will end up failing. Civilian use of drones, desktop CNC machines, desktop 3d printers, and home machinist setups will also have to be made illegal because simple to make zip guns kill tyrants just as dead as Col. Colt’s finest. We are on the verge of the end of the political class’ technical ability to impose popular disarmament. Societies that are disarmed will have to forego the maker revolution or forego a disarmed populace. We do not have that handicap and will profit handsomely because of the social habits of a healthy gun culture.

  29. TMLutas,


    See: The Operation Fast and Furious "Gunwalking" scandal.

    This scandal was a criminal conspiracy by the Federal government politicians and law enforcement agencies to manfacture evidence to subvert 2nd Amendment constitutional rights.

    This remains an active and on-goiing criminal conspiracy in that theprinciples involved are obstructing Republican Congressional investigation and oversight.

    David Codrea' blog leaves me much less hopeful than you regards 2nd Amedement rights:

    Particularly since he just posted this link:

    101st Battalion Commander’s Outrageous E-mail to Subordinates Regarding US Hate Groups

  30. Trent Telenko – I’m much more of a ‘keep your powder dry’ and pre-position like mad so if it comes down to it the correlation of forces is very much in our favor. At this point I’m betting that this is the major game in town to prevent violence. I’d like to have things settle down in to a long-term acceptance of Heller and the creation of a national gun culture that is positive and constructive. A person can dream, can’t they?

    As to the battalion commander’s email, I don’t think he’s likely to do much damage as an AGM at Home Depot which seems to be his current employment since about 5 months ago. the version put out by Joe Miller looks a little funky. I don’t quite trust those headers.

  31. Hi TM

    I suspect Bateman’s professional reputation is fixed and he will in all likelihood retire at his present rank or maybe full colonel. He seems fairly well known in the COIN and DC defense wonk community.

    Again I don’t know Bob personally but I suspect he separates his more outrageoues online antics from his professional work for his chain of command. Two and three star bosses in the Army are not noted for their tolerance of juniors coloring outside their lines and drawing negative attention thereby. While I have heard backchannel complaints about his political debating style no one has ever said “Bateman doesn’t know tactics/COIN/mil history etc.”, at least not to me

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