What Would Happen Under Martial Law In The United States? - Granite Grok

What Would Happen Under Martial Law In The United States?

By Sam Bocetta

Martial law is a subject that many people have heard about but far fewer actually understand. Truth be told, most people don’t understand just how serious of a situation martial law is or what it would entail should it ever be declared on a city-wide, state-wide, or national scale. In this article, we’ll dive into what martial law is, when and why it would be declared by the government, and what would happen if it were ever to be declared.

What Is Martial Law?

To put it simply, martial law is defined as the suspension of ordinary law and the imposition of direct government (and almost always military) control over the population. In other words, the government will act as the courts and the police all at once, and they will use the military and law enforcement to enforce whatever they should decree. If when you think of the term ‘martial law’ you also think of tanks rolling through your streets and National Guard or military units swarming in and setting up checkpoints left and right, that’s honestly not too far off from what martial law would look like.

When/Why Would Martial Law Be Declared?

There are multiple instances in which martial law may be declared, including but not limited to:

  • Coup D’Etat
  • Terrorist Attacks
  • Enemy Invasions
  • Civil War
  • Natural Disasters
  • Mass Rioting and Disobedience of the Law
  • General Breakdown of Society
  • EMP Attacks

In other words, martial law will never just be declared randomly. There will always be a specific event that triggers it, and specifically, it will be a major event that will directly cause the government to want to maintain order.

What Would Happen If Martial Law Were Declared?

What would happen if martial law were declared in your city or potentially even across the whole country? Well, there are a number of things that are going to happen when martial law happens (whether it be declared officially or happen unofficially, as was the case with Hurricane Katrina), and none of them are very pretty:


Your Constitutional rights will no longer protect you when martial law is declared. This includes the right to free speech and freedom of religion, the right to a free press, the right to a quick and speedy trial, and of course, to the right to keep and bear arms. Simply put, under martial law, it will be as if the Constitution never existed.  You will need to be extremely careful about what you say and what you do. If you speak out against the authorities in public, you’ll find yourself in serious trouble.


Without a free press, the only ‘news’ you’ll be hearing is what the government wants you to hear. In other words, you’ll be hearing nothing but propaganda, not only in the form of signs and newspapers on the street, but even through the internet and social media a swell.


The government will move quickly to confiscate firearms because they will view an armed civilian population as being a serious threat.  No guns will be left alone. If you think that only semi-automatics will be confiscated, you’re dead wrong. All guns, including single shot rifles or shotguns commonly used for hunting, will be taken as well. This is exactly what happened in the virtual martial law during Hurricane Katrina.  Law enforcement units went from door to door and forcibly confiscated hundreds of thousands of firearms of all types.

Your best bet will be to hide your guns as best you can. There are a number of hiding places in your home and some concealable gun safes to help you hide your guns, and you can always try burying them out in the backyard, but you can guarantee that the government will come knocking on the door for you guns during martial law.


Guns are not the only things that will be confiscated during martial law. The government is also going to move to take away food and water as well.  Now why would they do this?

Simple: to control the population.  With running water being shut off and food being confiscated, people will be totally dependent on the government for survival.  There will be long lines for food, water, and medicine, and you may even be required to join those lines, which will make survival more difficult.


The government will want to keep a close eye on everybody, and to that end, they will set up checkpoints at various points throughout the city.  There will military vehicles and patrols rolling down the streets, and barricades will be set up at all roads, streets, tunnels, and bridges leading outside of the city so that nobody gets in or out without express permission from the authorities.

This is why you need to be very careful that you don’t draw attention to yourself when walking down the streets: you don’t want a military or police officer to wave you over and search you.  Avoid carrying weapons, valuables, or wearing tactical clothing.


It’s very likely that your town will be shut down during martial law, meaning that no stores, banks, schools, restaurants, or other establishments will be open.  If they are open, you can expect the authorities to keep a close eye on everything to monitor what happens and also perhaps to manually tax every transaction that takes place.


Even after all this, you may wonder: would martial law ever really happen in the United States?  And the answer is a definitive yes: it very well could happen should a massive event trigger it like the ones we listed before.   Martial law is never going to be a pretty situation, and it will be dangerous living in a world where your rights and civil liberties do not exist and where you are totally dependent on the government for survival.

The best thing you can do will be to hide a stockpile of food and water so you’re not dependent on the government for food, to not attract any attention to yourself, and to wait out the storm until things (hopefully) get better.