Bundy Ranch Showdown Proves Militias
Can Stop Government Excesses



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By Kurt Hofmann, April 19th 2014
JPFO writer contributor, © 2014.

When gun rights advocates explain that the Second Amendment exists to protect the people's last-ditch means of stopping an out-of-control government, a common reply from those who favor oppressive gun laws is that civilians, with our small arms, would have no chance against a military superpower like the U.S. They tell us that with tanks, stealth bombers, supersonic fighter jets, drones, helicopter gunships, etc., the military would crush any resistance by the people. (Oddly, this argument has apparently not yet convinced the Taliban to quit fighting.)

Some go further than that, and point to the U.S. nuclear arsenal, apparently untroubled by the prospect of the government using nukes against American citizens, and willing to stay loyal to a government they believe capable of such monstrous evil.

The Bureau of Land Management's decision, one week ago today, to back away from a fight against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the armed civilians (members of the unorganized militia) and Oath Keepers who stand with him must confound those who believe that military might is everything.

Yet that's exactly what happened. With militia members having filed in by ones and twos, but eventually adding up to a sizable force, the BLM's paramilitary enforcers decided that a dispute about where cattle graze was not worth orphaning their children, ostensibly to protect "endangered" desert tortoises. From the Daily Caller:

Finally, on April 12, the BLM called off its cattle removal operation over safety concerns for its agents and civilian protesters.

"Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public," said BLM director Neil Kornze in a statement.

Their retreat was hasty, and could indeed be described as ignominious, as liberty advocate and perennial thorn in the collectivists' side Mike Vanderboegh describes (Warning: slightly salty language).

Keep in mind that these same federal hired guns had in the recent past been far bolder. Bold enough, indeed, to dare to take the unforgivably offensive step of designating a "First Amendment Zone," where those wishing to protest the government's actions were to be "allowed" to do so. Recording their actions was forbidden, with that prohibition enforced with Tasers. The government had actually declared the area a no fly zone, raising concerns about what they were planning to do, that must so vitally be kept from public scrutiny.

In other words, the federal government had marched in there with no intention of leaving without their pound of flesh--and ended up leaving with badly bruised egos.

No serious observer believes this is over. U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), who has taken a very personal interest in the situation, has said as much. Reid has, in fact, referred to Bundy's supporters as "domestic terrorists," with all the ominous baggage that designation carries. The militias' and Oath Keepers' victory may thus be short-lived.

It is beyond the scope of this article to analyze the right and wrong of the situation--whether or not Bundy has the right to graze his cattle on federal land without paying the government's grazing fees, and whether or not, indeed, the federal government has legitimate Constitutional authority to claim that land in the first place.

The issue here is that even if Bundy is wrong, enforcement of grazing fee requirements is not legitimately the work of heavily armed paramilitary forces. And the further issue is that for now, at least, when those paramilitary forces stared through their rifle scopes at armed private citizens staring back at them through their rifle scopes, it was the government's eyes that blinked, with no injuries except to the feds' pride.

That injury itself is enough to prompt outrage in some circles. Sen. Reid is not alone in denouncing Bundy and his supporters as "terrorists." On the "progressive" discussion group site Democratic Underground, many participants are evidently angry that the showdown was not resolved with Bundy, his family, and his allies dying in a hail of gunfire.

This should not come as much of a surprise, as it is not a new position for the political left, even those who bill themselves as champions of "non-violence." In 2009, Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, debated Professor Robert Churchill, author of To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant's Face: Libertarian Political Violence and the Origins of the Militia Movement.

In the course of that debate, Churchill recounted a the FBI siege of the Montana Freemen. This, remember, was at a time of extensive militia activity, and the government was more than a little concerned. The FBI had contacts within the militia movement, and asked those contacts what would happen if the Freemen were killed in a bloody raid, along the lines of Ruby Ridge or Waco. They were told that were that to happen, there would be a nationwide open season on federal law enforcement personnel. Professor Churchill stated that he believes this information figured heavily in the FBI's decision to take the time to negotiate a peaceful surrender of the Freemen.

The chilling part is that Horwitz's reaction was, "You can't think that's a good thing, right?" Churchill replied, "That the Freemen did not die is a good thing. That people died by fire at Waco is a bad thing." The relevant portion of the debate is about a minute long, and can be seen here (it will start at the correct point, but will have to be stopped manually).

Judging from CSGV's Facebook post, the group shares the sentiments expressed in the Democratic Underground discussion, in keeping with Horwitz's apparent preference that the government kill suspects who refuse to surrender, rather than be deterred by armed private citizens.

At least no one is advocating nukes. Guess that would kill too many tortoises.

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A former paratrooper, Kurt Hofmann was paralyzed in a car accident in 2002. The helplessness inherent to confinement to a wheelchair prompted him to explore armed self-defense, only to discover that Illinois denies that right, inspiring him to become active in gun rights advocacy. He also writes the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner column.

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