Martial law is when a military force takes control of a civilian government. Sometimes, martial law is enacted in an emergency situation.
Governments might impose martial law in case of war or to quell violence. In the U.S., the federal government can declare martial law, but it's more often been used by state governments to stop protests or strikes. In many countries, armed troops are used to stifle political opposition or aid the overthrow of leaders during a coup. Martial means "warlike," from Mars, the Roman god of war.
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