But the vast majority seem to be "constitutional" militias, fans of low taxes and small government -- values similar to those of many conservatives and the Tea Party movement.
They also see the possession of firearms as not only a right protected by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution but a patriotic duty, a symbol of the citizen's equal standing with the government.
At the heart of the movement is a fierce allegiance to the U.S. Constitution and a belief that its rights and freedoms are threatened by the government.
One leading light is Robert Schulz, founder and chairman of We The People Foundation, a non-profit that organized two national gatherings last year. The meetings popularized a check list of alleged constitutional violations cited by elements of the conservative Tea Party movement and militias, according to "Midwifing the Militias", a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit which tracks hate groups.
Such violations included undeclared foreign wars, gifting and lending money and credit to private corporations, unconstitutional tax levying and unenforced immigration laws.
"What we have is government ignoring the Constitution," Schulz told Reuters in interview. FULL STORY