So many juicy topics to choose from today. So let’s combine a couple of related topics about guns and militiamen/women and the concept of revolt in the USA. Sounds like fun.
I often post provocative things on Facebook and this blog. Yesterday I posted one item about guns, and another about the takeover, by self-described militia, of a federal Wildlife Refuge headquarter building (kind-of a small house) in eastern Oregon. These are related topics.
First, the question I posed about guns. I read about, and once witnessed people who walk around in public places carrying loaded semi-automatic rifles as a demonstration of their Second Amendment right to bear arms (this is in states where open carry is legal). The legal question I posed was this: if I witness these people, and I feel threatened and afraid for my safety, do I have the right to call the police and demand that they make the gun-toters leave? This is an especially relevant question today because of the recurring mass shootings by people with semi-automatic weapons. Yes, if it is legal, these folks have a right to openly carry weapons; however, given the climate of fear and apprehension in this country about mass shooters, isn’t this behavior the same as shouting “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire?
I know what the gun rights crowd will say, but I think it is time for the gun control crowd to start exercising our right to feel safe in public places. I propose that any time we see people open carrying these kinds of weapons in a public place we call 911 and say that we feel unsafe and fear for our safety.
Some of my FB friends have posted another thought I’ve had: what if the gun-toters happen to be African American? And I will add, what if they are Muslim, with beards, dressed in long gowns and skull caps (to be very obviously Muslim), and demonstrating their Second Amendment right? Think about it, in America, a group of white guys dressed in military garb and carrying semi-automatic weapons walking around a park or mall or other public place vs. a group of obvious Muslims doing the same. Which ones do you think will end up dead very quickly?
One of the examples of how this plays out along race lines in our history is when the Black Panthers decided to arm themselves. Gun ownership was legal, and they did not try to hide the fact that they had guns. The end of this was when the police raided Black Panther offices and homes, killed (murdered) some of them, and arrested many.
So now let’s get to the insurrection in eastern Oregon. The quick summary is that there was a demonstration in Burns, Oregon about father and son ranchers who were convicted of arson for setting at least two areas of federal range land on fire. This is a federal crime, and they were sentenced to 5 years in prison. The men announced that they would show up Monday to start their prison terms, but anti-government types held a demonstration for the purpose of claiming that the federal government should stay out of local issues, should not own range and forest land, and etc. A small group of demonstrators - they claim to have about 150 people - then split off and took over the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. You can easily find the video clips of these guys spouting off about taking the country back for the people, opening the Wildlife Refuge for grazing, farming, mining and other activities for the people, and etc.
These guys (maybe some women, too) describe themselves as militia members, some of them dress in military clothing, they carry rifles and assault weapons and pistols - in other words, they are a group of armed people who have taken over government property.
Obviously these people are violating numerous laws. I’m guessing that they are not violating any law about guns, just laws about their behavior, such as trespassing, threatening violence, etc.
This is an interesting case to watch. Will these militiamen be considered terrorists, and be prosecuted as such? Keep in mind that they have made statements that they plan to stay where they are “for years” and will fight anyone who tries to get them out. This could become a lengthy stalemate in which the authorities try to starve them out rather than get into a gun battle with them.
I think it is important to listen to the messages these folks put forward. They are very anti-government - federal government - and claim that America is off-track and needs to find it’s footing again. In their minds, the feds have taken away everything that they need to practice their form of livelihood; the feds own large acreage of range land, large areas of timber land, control mining activities. In other words, the natural resources in the USA should be open and available to anyone who wants to use them, with no regulation, no control by Big Government, no oversight of environmental quality, etc.
AND, by god, they have a constitutional right to back up their message with their guns!
Ah, Oregon, beautiful Oregon. A vast sea of rural conservatism with tiny islands (Portland, Eugene, a few others) of liberalism.
And I can’t wait to hear what Trump, Cruz and the others have to say about this one!
Note: You might remember Clive Bundy, the Nevada rancher who started a standoff with federal officials. Well, his sons are the ring-leaders of the new Oregon Rebellion; and no, they do not live in Oregon.