"A vigilante group is an armed private group that has taken the law into its own hands or that has the announced potential of doing so. There are quite a number of such organizations in the contemporary United States, and many have members who are said to be anti-government, racist, or both." "There is a strong history of vigilante activity in the United States that is unique in modern world history. Beginning as early as 1767 with the South Carolina Regulators (or vigilantes), U.S. private citizens have acted in lieu of the police or military, often using deadly force on hundreds of occasions when they viewed official law enforcement as inadequate. The prototypical vigilante groups are the Ku Klux Klans, and in the present era, vigilante groups include the Klans, as well as militias, Skinheads, neo-Nazis, and others. There is great organizational and ideological diversity among and within them.".
"In order to avoid civil disturbances, Congress and a number of state legislatures have passed laws governing the organization, instruction, and activities of private groups assembled to drill with, practice with, or demonstrate the use of firearms or explosives. This is a brief overview of those laws. The unorganized militia consists, essentially, of all adult Americans of fighting age who are not in the organized militia. Throughout our history various members of the unorganized militia, that is various groups of private citizens, have taken it upon themselves to organize in anticipation of the country's need to call upon them militarily in times of national or local crisis. Beginning in the nineteenth century, several states enacted statutes to regulate such activities."--BOOK JACKET.