Robert Mitchell, Commander of the Citizens Militia of Mississippi, addresses some of the group's members at the beginning of a patrol drill near Batesville, Miss.
Founded a little more than a year ago, the Citizens Militia of Mississippi is one of the newest groups of its kind in the United States. Members and their families gather for a Fourth of July barbecue at Sardis Lake near Batesville, Miss.
Several younger members of the group sit together during the picnic. Many of the adult militia members have children who actively participate as well.
Kevan Owen, of the Citizens Militia of Mississippi’s northeast chapter, has a tattoo of a Greek phrase on his forearm. "Molon Labe," or "Come and take them," is a rallying cry in the militia movement.
Active militia members participate in training exercises once a month. Tate County chapter Cmdr. Billy May carries an AR-15 during a patrol drill in Batesville, Miss.
Raven Jones,16, crouches with an AR-15 during a Citizens Militia of Mississippi patrol drill. Her parents, Kim and Doug Jones, are founding members of the group.
Militia members practice advancing through the woods and to spot Brandy Davis, right, posing as an enemy combatant. His 10-year-old son, Dalton Davis, left, also participated in the patrol drill.
Junior militia member Dalton Davis, 10, carries an AR-15 and a pistol during the Citizens Militia of Mississippi exercise. As a precaution, the guns were unloaded and the rifle bolt removed prior to the drill.
Davis, a fifth-grader, said he enjoys shooting and participating in drills whenever he can. But he hasn’t told all his friends at school that he’s in a militia. “They don't really understand it as much as grown-ups,” he said. “I was born around guns, but it's kind of hard to explain. So I tell my best friends, but that's about it.”
Army veteran Robert "Bobby" Mitchell said he founded the Citizens Militia of Mississippi as a way to "give back" to his community. A machine operator at Batesville Casket Company, he said he spends nearly all of his free time on militia business.
Citizens Militia of Mississippi members pray before a training drill in the woods near Batesville, Miss. They say they believe that they have a God-given right to use firearms to protect themselves and their families.
Dale Drewery, a militia member from Itawamba County, Miss., fires a Glock handgun during target practice near Booneville, Miss. The group requires applicants to pass a background check so as not to give felons access to to firearms.
Northeast chapter member Shannon Muse sets up targets for practice on his property near Booneville, Miss. The Citizens Militia of Mississippi uses his rural property as a training facility.
Kimberly Jones fires a semi-automatic tactical shotgun as junior member Lexie Muse, 14, looks on.
"We have a very close relationship, and that's really what made me join the militia,” Lexie Muse said of her father, Shannon Muse. “Through everything, the militia has just made me and my dad grow closer together.”