Martial law is by definition- the temporary rule by military authorities over the civilians as in time of war. Over the years, the meaning of martial law has been obfuscated to mean something very different from its intended purpose. This obfuscation has come from the very tyrants that have used it to oppress and intimidate the civilian masses for their own self interest.
There are two versions of martial law you need to be concerned about.
The proper application of martial law is used when civilian leadership is absent or destroyed during times of conflict. The military command operating in the area declares martial law or military law. This means the military becomes the temporary authority to oversee civilian operations necessary to serve the population until a civilian government can be reconstituted to perform the function.
The military becomes the surrogate leadership and is obligated to enforce the civilian laws as the civilian government would. This military leadership is merely taking the temporary place of the elected officials until such time the community can replace them by proper elections utilizing the democratic principles they are accustomed to. This temporary leadership is applied to prevent the chaos that prevails when no leadership is present to enforce laws and provide infrastructure for the populace. It is meant to enforce the continued civilized behavior of the community to ensure that peace and normal operations continue for the benefit of the citizens. This is the true meaning of martial law and any deviation from this application should be considered illegal.
The second version is the one most people see or talk about and is not to be considered legitimate.
When a civilian entity declares martial law it is contrary to the very meaning of the phrase. If civilian leadership is present, military leadership is not needed as the civilian government has the authority to enforce the laws and administer to the populations needs. When a civilian entity declares martial law what they are really saying is, they want to dispense with the rule of law and rule by force. This fact is evident where any civilian entity has declared martial law in the past.
When these entities declare martial law they universally dispense with normal civilized behavior and legal proceedings and engage in a reign of terror to oppress the civilian population and deny them their unalienable rights. The idea that an entity can suspend legal laws approved by the population and act on the whims of their emotions and desires is the absence of legitimate law. This type of martial law is usually employed by individuals or groups that desire to overthrow the legitimate legal system for their own personal gain and will do anything they deem necessary to maintain control.
When a rational person asks themselves what the reason for martial law is, they will in all likelihood come to the conclusion expressed in the first case. When a government finds itself in a time of chaos, it has the ability to summon reinforcements to bolster the police force to maintain order. It has the ability to order curfews to clear the streets to enforce the peace and arrest those who break the current law. So, why would martial law be necessary in the presence of civilian leadership doing what it is legally elected to do?
The same rational person would arrive at the conclusion in the second case that martial law declared by civilian entities is nothing more than a power grab meant to take away the rights of a free people in the name of tyranny. Those that apply rational thought and critical thinking to this issue will see the logic in the argument.
To anyone who would argue otherwise, certain questions will make it very clear.
Why would it be necessary to suspend the constitution?
What does martial law really mean?
What circumstances necessitate the action of martial law?
What laws are applied when martial law is declared?
Where are these laws for martial law written down?
Who created these laws and how were they approved?
Who has the authority to declare martial law and where does this power come from?
There are cases when martial law may be needed when civilian leadership is absent but the employment of martial law by civilian agencies acting on emotions and desires is the law of brute force and is no law at all. The lack of an educated populace makes the second case possible due to a lack of understanding of the principles of freedom and unalienable rights meant to prevent a second case scenario.
An unarmed populace is helpless to stop the second scenario and prevent the brutality that comes with it. Unchecked brutality leads to theft and murder and eventually mass murder. These are the lessons of history we are often to forget until we are reminded in a very graphic and painful way.