More domestic terrorism

Update No, I shouldn’t have said “terrorism.”

Very sorry, Sir! Won’t happen again, Sir!

*****

Some of the same armed “militia” folks who forced the Bureau of Land Management to step back in the Bundy Ranch confrontation have now moved to Oregon, where they’re using the same threats of violence to keep two convicted arsonists from going back to prison.

You may remember that, in the Bundy Ranch episode, the people who were threatening to murder federal officials carrying out a court order had either the active or the tacit support of the “gun rights” movement and Republican politicians, until Bundy made himself toxic with some racist comments. (If any reader can find any criticism of the armed mob by any prominent Republican or gun-rights advocate or organization, please let me know; my Google-fu doesn’t seem to be up to the task.)

[Update: A friend with Google-fu greater than mine found a number of conservative and libertarian pundits and outlets who criticized the mob at the Bundy Ranch, including Bill Kristol, The Federalist, Glenn Beck, and Charles C.W. Cooke. That’s as opposed to the views of most of the Fox News crew – notably Sean Hannity – and Kevin D. Williamson, who praised “a little sedition.” So far no luck with either Republican politicians or gun-rights groups.]

Just in case there was any doubt about what was at stake, one of the Bundy-ranch mob involved in the current confrontation makes it clear:

We had counter-sniper positions on their sniper positions.  We had at least one guy—sometimes two guys—per BLM agent in there. If they made one wrong move, every single BLM agent in that camp would’ve died.

Under the circumstances, it was reasonable for the federal government to back off to avoid bloodshed. Collecting a court judgment, even a court judgment for $1 million, isn’t worth sacrificing lives. But I, for one, wish that some of the people involved had later been indicted for assault with a deadly weapon (which includes pointing a loaded gun at someone even if that gun isn’t actually fired) and sent off for a long spell in the Federal calaboose. And it’s not too late: Ryan Payne’s statement, quoted above (from this news story) would be ample to sustain that charge, among others, if someone were able to get it on tape or if he repeated it in the presence of someone willing to testify.

The problem with giving in at the Bundy Ranch is that it encouraged additional actions of the same sort, as we’re seeing now.

Apparently the latest confrontation is going to fizzle; the two convicted men, and their neighbors, apparently aren’t interested in participating in a seditious conspiracy. But the opportunity is still there for people who defend the Second Amendment right to be armed but don’t actually approve of domestic terrorism to say so, and to say that threatening to massacre federal officials engaged in executing court orders is outside the bounds.

So far, the silence has been deafening.

 

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

11 thoughts on “More domestic terrorism”

  1. A caboose was the manned car at the back of freight trains in the U.S., no longer used, although I remember them from my youth. The term for a lock-up is calaboose.

  2. I think that was a somewhat, shall we say, unnuanced account of what was involved in the Bundy ranch standoff, particularly coming from somebody who can find sympathy for, for instance, strong arm robbers who get shot attacking police officers. You might wonder why it's impossible to run a cattle ranch in Nevada without renting land from the government, which has something to do with why Bundy got sympathy and support.This map might explain why people in Nevada aren't as fond of the federal government as you are.

    You might wonder why it suddenly became urgent to move those cattle, which is why a long running legal battle suddenly became a live fire exercise. (Hint: It has to do with how Harry Reid became wealthy on a Congressman's salary.)

    That said, the gun rights activists I know, while having some sympathy towards Bundy in light of the federal government's excesses, were mostly glad that this time they had the restraint to not slaughter a bunch of people, like they did at Waco.

    My own attitude is similar to Jefferson's view of Shay's rebellion. I don't want a population that's so reflexively, overwhelmingly docile in the face of governmental demands, that it never fights back. We sure as hell don't have a government that never fights forward, it needs some push back.

    1. does this mean that you would be in favor of the populace of ferguson, mo arming themselves and holding off the various so-called law enforcement agencies which have been preying upon them for decades? would that approach suit you better than the attempts to peaceably demonstrate against the injustices which assail them on a daily basis? the reason, if you haven't figured it out by now, for why commenters here poke at you about this is that when the people who suffer injustices at the hands of the government are black you position yourself very closely with the government (i encourage you to go back and read your comments on all of the ferguson posts if you can't remember what i am talking about) but when the people who suffer injustices at the hands of the government are white you put up comments like the one above.

    2. And of course Sam Adams, leader of the original Tea Party, looked at Shays’ rebellion and thought that the lot of them ought to be hanged. That is when the other Founding Fathers decided that it was imperative to write a Constitution to create a strong central government.

      As for Jefferson himself, he wanted the reach of the federal government to be strictly limited when he was out of power, but when he had the executive power in his own hands, he used it to enforce the Embargo Act at the point of a bayonet.

      If today's Tea Party comes to power, it will govern with an authoritarian hand. You do not want the likes of Cliven Bundy's followers to have command over you. They will not like it if you ever try to push back!

    3. You might wonder why it's impossible to run a cattle ranch in Nevada without renting land from the government,

      Well, I suppose it's because the government owns a lot of the land, as the map shows. But so what? What does that have to do with paying rent owed on the land you use? And when you don't pay it's hardly abusive for the landlord to evict you, or try to do whatever he can to collect what is owed.

      Or do you share Bundy's refusal to recognize the Federal government at all?

      Still I commend you for your honesty in saying you support the Bundy Rebellion. I'll remember that th enext time you talk about the importance of the rule of law.

  3. Why didn't the Bundy confrontation happen someplace else? Because most states you don't have to rent land from the federal government in order to run a ranch. It's possible to "own" enough land. It's only out west that cattle ranchers are forced to have the federal government for a landlord. A land lord who can suddenly decide it doesn't want cattle ranching, and start arbitrarily jacking up the rent. Or decide to move an endangered species onto your pasture to make room for a solar plant a Congressman is getting kickbacks for expediting.

    And if you admit people have a real grievance, you're not obligated to approve of how they express it. Bundy had a gripe with the government, he got in a fight with the government. That's almost always stupid even if you've got justice on your side. But at least he got in a fight with the people he had a gripe against.

    In Ferguson, they had a gripe with the government, and expressed it by rioting and looting directed against private businesses. Stupid AND unjust. At least Bundy was just stupid, he didn't use his argument with the feds as an excuse to rob a liquor store or start carting off TV sets from the local Walmart.

    And, personally, I'm glad that the government had the sense not to go berserk and start killing people, the way they did at Waco. That was my main concern there.

    1. It's only out west that cattle ranchers are forced to have the federal government for a landlord. A land lord who can suddenly decide it doesn't want cattle ranching, and start arbitrarily jacking up the rent.

      Are you under the impression that the government is the only landlord who has ever raised the rent? Or decided to put the property to a different use?

      I doubt you are as solicitous of tenants in privately owned buildings as you are of Bundy. If such a tenant complained about a rent increase you would be the first to tell him to either pay up or find someplace else to live. But here, it's an anti-government fanatic with a lot of guns, so you're all for it.

      Note too, that the fees Bundy doesn't want to pay are a bargain, so even if he paid he'd still be a "taker." But hey, he's got a cowboy hat and a gun, so it's all fine with Brett.

    2. What a load of specious bullshit. It's only possible to own enough land to run a ranch if you can buy it from the people that already own it. That's as true in Nevada as it is everywhere else. And any landlord can decide that they don't want cattle ranching on their land and either start jacking up the rent or, more likely, simply refuse to renew a lease. What you are declaring is that the federal government is the only landowner that does not have the power to decide how it wants to use its property.

      This has to qualify as one of the dumbest comments you've ever made, which is quite an accomplishment.

    3. Because most states you don't have to rent land from the federal government in order to run a ranch. It's possible to "own" enough land. It's only out west that cattle ranchers are forced to have the federal government for a landlord.

      Just as you're always pointing out that poor people need to move to where the jobs are, Mr. Bundy, as an affluent white man, is free to move to ANY ONE of those states any time he damned well pleases and run his cattle operations there. If he chooses not to do say, then he can pay his bills like responsible people do instead of mooching off of the taxpayers of this country (e.g., ME). I work for a living and don't need to support lazy moochers like Cliven Bundy.

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