The concept of martial law is one that is often confusing. The textbook definition is a rule of law imposed by the highest-ranking military officer, either as a military governor or as the leader of the nation, in place of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches. But many people think that, for our country, martial law occurs when the president, as commander-in-chief, declares him- or herself to be in charge completely, a declaration that would come with the suspension of most, if not all, constitutional rights.
Martial law has actually been implemented in the U.S. in the past. During the Civil War, President Lincoln not only suspended habeas corpus, but also appointed generals to head up military districts in some states – moves that the U.S. Supreme Court eventually approved due to the national emergency created by the conflict.
Some think that martial law is once again imminent. In fact, some Americans believe that President Obama, not satisified with leaving office in 2016, may use the occasion of a national emergency – say, due to terrorism – as the impetus, which would lead to a suspension of elections and the Constitution.
Would Congress allow that? That depends; if some candidate who is well outside the political establishment – like a Donald Trump – looks set to win the election, it's very possible this Congress, which has given Obama everything he wants, would simply go along with whatever he wanted to do.
That said, if martial law were to occur, it will become vital for Americans to learn how to navigate a dramatically changed social situation. And, as noted at Prepper Fortress, if that's our fate, the government – using cyber means, covert operations and other measures – is already putting the pieces in place to deal with the expected chaos.
Here are 10 ways to avoid becoming ensnared in the martial law net:
-- 1. Run early and often: At the first declaration of martial law, run, don't walk to the countryside, preferably a pre-determined "bugout" location that you have already scoped out and stocked with supplies. Make sure to bring a radio – solar- or crank-powered (or both) so you don't have to worry about an electrical source – to monitor the situation and to receive intelligence and updates about what's going on. From there you can plan your next move.
-- 2. Hide and seek: The government will likely be scouring the countryside for stragglers, so the best thing you can do to avoid satellite surveillance, being spotted by a drone or being rolled up on by a government agent or soldier is to remain out-of-sight. Camouflage is your friend, but cannot hide your heat signature; only earth can do that. Caves are great bugout hideaways, and so are underground basements. Stay off hilltops so you don't silhouette yourself and be prepared to low-crawl and move slowly if there are people in the area. Avoid trails.
-- 3. Be difficult: That is, be difficult to track or anticipate. If you're heading into a wooded area, take the most difficult, but still passable, option, unless you're actively being pursued. It'll take you longer to get where you're going but you'll be increasing your odds that you won't be found.
-- 4. Cover your tracks: Chances are you won't be followed by a trained tracker, but some signs are not hard to spot, such as footprints in moist soil, broken branches and flattened grass. If you make tracks try to cover them as best you can. And police up your trash so you leave nothing behind.
-- 5. Fool them: Take and leave false trails. Start on one side of the road, but then double back down the road and cross over, heading to your predetermined location.
-- 6. Essentials only: Just take only what you need to survive for at least 72 hours. That will lighten your load and make it easier to escape.
-- 7. Silence is golden: Don't tell anyone you meet what your plans are, where you're going or who you are. You won't know who you can trust (which means you shouldn't trust anyone).
-- 8. Don't fear the dogs: Some government officials may use tracking dogs to round up people, but they won't be widespread.
-- 9. Go, then go some more: Don't ever think you've put "enough" distance between yourself and the authorities. If you need to spend extra days bugging out, then do so. And don't ever relax.
-- 10. Teach your kids: They will have trouble understanding what is going on if you don't tell your kids beforehand that someday you all may need to leave your home and seek refuge. Also, teach them the survival skills that you will be learning.