Sunday, January 3, 2016

On The Oregon Militia Stand-off, Guns, and Terrorism

Although the big media outlets have been slow to pick up on it, you've probably heard about the current situation going on in Oregon right now. The bottom line is, a militia group has taken over a federal government building and are refusing to leave. (While they are not calling themselves a militia group, it fits the parameters)

Their ostensible reason for their actions is that father and son Dwight and Steve Hammond have been ordered back to court tomorrow (Monday, 1/4) to serve out the remainder of their sentence. The Hammonds were jailed on arson charges following them allegedly burning many acres of land to cover up evidence of deer poaching (The Hammonds, of course, are offering a different explanation for the fires, but they were tried in a court of law by a jury of their peers, as is their constitutional right).

It's important to note that both Hammonds have made very clear that they have not asked for not do not wish any sort of "help" or "publicity" from this group, led by the well-known Bundy group (father Cliven and son Ammon, not Ted). Noteworthy is that the so-called Bundy group has received accolades from candidates ranging from Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Huckabee. Other Republican candidates, such as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, have spoken out against this dangerous group.

Perhaps most frighteningly, the Bundy group and their terrorist militia are also refusing to give terms for what they want, for what would make them leave, which makes the whole thing even stranger.

                                                  Cliven Bundy

When asked what it would take for the protesters to leave, Bundy did not offer specifics. He said he and those with him are prepared to stay put for days or weeks.
"We feel that we will occupy this as long as necessary," he said.
"We are using the wildlife refuge as a place for individuals across the United States to come and assist in helping the people of Harney County claim back their lands and resources," he said.
"The people will need to be able to use the land and resources without fear as free men and women. We know it will take some time."

Oh, and then there's the fact, also reported by CNN, that "After the march Saturday, the armed protesters broke into the refuge's unoccupied building and refused to leave. Officials have said there are no government employees in the building."

It is my understanding that, with that action, these people crossed the "T-Line" and are now officially terrorists. Merriam-Webster defines a terrorist as, "The use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal." Neighbors have spoken out about being frightened, and obviously these yahoos have a political goal.

They are terrorists.

This country is in a uproar right now, with hysteria about Syrian refugees and violence against African-Americans leading to cries of "Terrorism". 

And yet ... nobody wants to call this impending mess in Oregon, this collection of white right-wingers toting automatic weapons as they take over a federal building, terrorists. 

I think it comes down to two things, really ...
1. We all have that crazy uncle that you never know how far he is willing to go. I see a crazy relative in the face of these guys ... makes it a bit less scary.
2. There are many people, a silent militia of frighteningly large numbers, with a gun collection that claims to keep it "just in case it's ever needed".

So, yeah, perhaps it really is as simple as guns, that this is going to be the second amendment showdown that these people have long been spoiling for. 

I have never shot a gun in my life. I'm pretty sure I've never even held one. I'm a little bit fuzzy on the actual process of firing a gun, and honestly I don't even know whether you load bullets or clips or what.

My dad owned guns when I was growing up, but I didn't realize it at the time because he kept them hidden. I'm sure many of the houses I went to as a kid also had guns, but it never really came up in conversation.

Simply put, guns were never really part of my life beyond books, movies, and the city of Dover's police department.

Why they are suddenly such a hot button issue blows my mind, and I'm trying to figure out if my lack of personal experience with guns makes me a voice of reason or a clueless dolt. Please let me know in the comments ...

I have no problem with owning guns for hunting. While I would never be able to hunt myself, I understand that there are people that rely on the food they hunt. Go, hunters!

Okay, onto the next thing: home protection.

If you want to have a gun to feel safe at home, more power to you. Make sure you are trained in how to use it and make sure you're never going to be hyped up enough to accidentally shoot your husband when he comes in through the back door or something.

I also strongly believe that these guns (intended for home protection) should be locked, always. I'm a mother and a teacher, and the idea of guns running amok makes my blood run cold. (I'm going to pretend not to mention that the odds are that you would struggle, during a home invasion by a stranger, to get your hands on your own secured gun).

The other contingency of gunowners, and by far the largest, are those that have many guns, at least some of them automatic weapons. Their argument for this level of stockpile is that they are preparing to protect their property should anyone try to take it away. 

These, my friends, have the mindset that they are essentially part of a militia, and the Bundy group fits into this category like a glove.

So the people in Oregon (I read comments following an article earlier today, and one line resonated with me: "If the right-wing is going to invite these yahoos to their parties, they cannot be shocked when they want to dance.") are perhaps unknowingly setting up quite the interesting situation in our country. I pray it's not another Waco or Ruby Ridge, but with the current political situation, it could be something equally disastrous.

Take Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, for example. If he speaks out in support of this latest action, he is ultimately condoning the fact that militia movements are going to be America's new domestic terrorism. If he speaks out against the Oregon nuts, he will potentially lose a huge percentage of his supporters. As of this writing, Trump has (wisely, in my humble opinion) said nothing about the takeover of a federal building in Oregon. 

While some people are confident that these are people that will give up and go home if ignored long enough, I'm truly frightened. These gun-waving white men scare me more than Syrian refugees, more than the recent spike in African-American violence. 

There are these underground militias everywhere, in all fifty states if I had to guess. Will this nonsense from the Bundy group (who are brave enough to express outrage in the names of people who asked him to keep his outrage to himself, brave enough to take over an unoccupied government building) lead to militia outings all over America ... and a further split over how the approach is different when the "terrorists" have white skin.

What are your thoughts on this debacle?