Nel's New Day

May 3, 2014

Bundy’s Militia Takes Away Freedom, Liberty

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:39 PM
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Freedom and liberty—that’s what gun lovers who want to curl up with cold metal at night call unfettered gun ownership. These are the same people—mostly men—who want to leave their guns readily available for children to kill their siblings so that they feel safe from the imaginary intruders. The same ones who accidentally drop their guns in coffeehouses so that other people are accidentally injured. The same people who pull out their guns at any offense in someplace like a pizza place or outside a 7-11 so that they can shoot, and sometimes kill, anyone who they perceive as insulting them.

Recent events in Nevada show serious problems from uncontrolled gun ownership. After federal officials rounded up some of rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle on public property because he refused to pay his grazing fees for the past 20 years and lost at least two court cases in connection with his theft, the Wild West standoff continues. Bundy’s cry for help from self-appointed militia on the sympathetic Fox network brought over 1,000 heavily armed far-right extremists to his aid. The BLM agents backed off to avoid violence, and the gun-totin’ folk proudly claimed a victory. Yet they won’t leave.

Conservative media and political leaders also claimed victory—until the 68-year-old rancher opened his mouth. His opinions about black people extended to the claim that they were better off in picking cotton in slavery. Former supporters such as Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Ron Paul (R-KY), who had called Bundy a “patriot,” decided they had better fish to fry and let their spokespersons bail them out of the mess. Sean Hannity now avoids any mention of the man who was prominently featured on his program for several days.

Range Showdown

intimidating Bundy called for the militia, and the people living near Bunkerville are left with the mess. The militia set up checkpoints on public land and demanded IDs, requiring proof that people live in the area before they pass through. The armed militia members roam along highways and roads as well as churches and schools. Afraid of them, the people of the community have asked their U.S. representative, Steven Horsford, for help because they don’t feel safe.

In fighting among the different armed groups is also causing danger. The Oath Keepers, a radical right-wing group, reported being afraid of the Bundy security guard who said they’d shoot deserters in the back. At the same time, Oath Keeper member Mike Vanderboegh, also leader of the militia group Three Percenters, warned that the country is “staring a civil war in its bloody face.” As he held up a skull, he told a story about an Alabama woman who killed federal agents who supposedly murdered her family during the post-Reconstruction era and used their skulls as a soap dish. Vanderboegh then said that he would give the skull to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) as the “2014 Award for Incitement to Civil War” and added, “Don’t poke the wolverine with a sharp stick, Harry, unless you want your balls ripped off.” Reid had accurately called the militia “domestic terrorists.”

The small town of Mesquite, nearby, isn’t safe from the militia either. Hotels report that they have lost over $100,000 in business because of their presence, and the city police is investigating death threats to hotel staffers after a bomb threat. Militia callers told workers at the Holiday Inn Express that it wouldn’t be standing in the morning if the BLM rangers were allowed to stay in the hotel. One Mesquite hotel worker, afraid of being seen on camera, said he was told that he would be “dragged out in the parking lot and shot.”

The militia poured lighter fluid around news trucks after blocking reporters from access on public roads. Clark County Assistant Sheriff Joe Lombardo said that the law enforcement were afraid for their lives. Talking about facing the militia, Metro Sgt. Tom Jenkins said, “You are standing there going, ‘I just hope it doesn’t hurt when it comes. That it’s quick,’ and it was real for us.” He said that he thought he could die there.

On the day of the confrontation, Bundy ordered Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie to disarm every federal official and report back to Bundy in an hour.  The arms were to be put in his compound. He also ordered them to bulldoze down the entrance places “where they ticket us and where they—ah–entrance and make us citizens pay their fees.”

In a meeting with area leaders, Horsford said, “We are not a playground for armed militias.” As of last Tuesday, the militia stated that they don’t plan to leave the area. Militia group spokesman Ryan Payne denied that they were setting up checkpoints and that they wouldn’t “pull over civilians, without, you know, reasonable cause.” Militias have no legal rights to pull over anyone with any reason.

Because of the prevalence of the country’s gun culture, people can point a high-powered rifle at federal officers and get off scot-free. Sitting down at a peaceful Occupy protest, such as the one on the campus of UC Davis in California, results in the police spraying Mace in the peaceful protesters faces. The policeman who did this got $38,000 in compensation for “anxiety and depression.”

At least one of the government-hating militia members, Mike Vanderboegh, was receiving $1,300 each month in Social Security disability payments as of 2010. His health insurance came from his wife’s employment. The question is how many other members of the militia disturbing community life in southeast Nevada are also living on government “handouts.”

Great Britain has a much different approach toward gun ownership and lacks the violence shown in Nevada. The country controls the sale of firearms although it still allows people in the country to have shotgun licenses or .22 rifles for killing small animals. Since 1997, only police and military are allowed to carry automatic weapons, and most people like it that way. As Simon Crump wrote, “ There are plenty of other people around who can’t be trusted with a gun, and I want it to be as difficult as possible for them to buy guns. I would be uncomfortable if it were made easier to buy firearms.”

He continued:

“If the burglar knows I might have a gun, he’s more likely to have one, too. He’s also probably a lot more comfortable about pointing it at someone than I am. And for that, I would have to accept the responsibility of owning a gun and storing it safely where my children and visitors can’t get at it….  An argument put forward by the gun lobby is that criminals will always be able to source guns from somewhere, so strict gun control only serves to put us good guys at a disadvantage by preventing us from defending ourselves. The problem with this is that we do not live in a world solely made up of good guys and bad guys. Most of us are normal people who occasionally get drunk or angry and make mistakes, and when those mistakes involve guns, the consequences are much worse.”

Almost two years ago, Fox network and other conservative media raised an alarm because two men, calling themselves “The New Black Panthers” stood outside a voting area. They had no guns, and they didn’t approach or intimidate anyone: they just stood there. If over 1,000 black and Hispanic men with AR-15s and AK-47s paraded around land in Nevada and pointed guns at federal agents, conservative media would certainly have a different approach than they have with the current white militia. If a white militia member were shot by a federal agent, he would be described as a heroic martyr. A black militiaman shot would be retribution by the police saving the people.

What if Bundy’s “patriots” are part of a movement to take over a town, or city, or region? Right now Nevada looks like Ukraine without the masks. Unfettered gun control can create this situation across the entire country. We can thank the NRA and the gun industry for the loss of freedom and liberty across the United States.

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