Simply put, Martial Law is the use of the national military force to exercise control over people.
In this case all constitutional rights and liberties are disregarded and civilians are no longer able to enjoy freedoms.
Though it is deemed as a far-fetched notion by the general public, it is possible for the government to impose a martial law because it is constitutionally provided for.
There are several things that will happen under Martial Law.
The first thing that is likely to happen in the United State is the declaration of a State of Emergency.
This may be either at a national or regional level.
A state of emergency may be declared in the event there is a natural disaster like a hurricane or widespread attack on the country.
This allows the government to use instruments of war to exercise forceful control on people for its own interests.
All other subsequent actions are determined by the reason for the declaration of the state of emergency.
These actions may include.
- Mandatory identification and curfews.
- Confiscation of legal firearms. A good example of this is during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina where the Louisiana National Guard, the New Orleans police and U.S Marshall’s office confiscated well over 1,000 legal fire arms from the citizenry.
- Imprisonment without trial by the suspension of the Habeas Corpus which is basically the right to a hearing and lawful imprisonment.
- Suspension of the Constitution, notably the first and second amendments.
- Imposition of quarantine zones and road closures in a bid to restrict travel and contain movement.
- Military tribunal or Martial Court may be called upon citizens that defy the imposition of Martial Law.
Has it happened before?
Several times in the course of the history of the United States, martial law has been declared at varying degrees.
The mostly cited and obvious example is during the 1863 Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln declared martial law and imposed it congressionally.
With this experience, there is a likelihood o imposition in the present times if the social unrests are anything to go by.
There are a number of indications that the current government can impose martial law given the slightest power in a bid to go for another term.