How Big Is The Militia Movement?

Ever since it took Donald Trump a few days to figure out how to denounce Nazis who marched through Charlottesville in August, 2017, the liberal media has been obsessed with the behavior and potential threat represented by ‘white supremacist’ groups. In particular, the mainstream media focuses much of its attention on the activities of the so-called citizen’s militias, particularly when people connected to such groups show up in a public space toting their guns.

The latest such concern can be found in a long article published in The New Yorker Magazine, which appeared previous to a bunch of militia-styled jerks getting themselves arrested for allegedly planning to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a state that has been a focus of media attention since a  number of these ‘patriots’ began demonstrating against her lockdown rules.

The militia groups in Michigan first got noticed when it turned out that Timothy McVeigh was briefly involved with the Michigan Militia before he went down to Oklahoma City and blew up the Murrah Federal Building.  The resultant publicity put the Michigan group more or less out of business, but it has of late revived, calling itself the Michigan Home Guard. This new group told the author of The New Yorker piece, Luke Mogelson, that they count one thousand members, a claim that Mogelson made absolutely no attempt to verify or even check.

Much of the recent concern about these militia groups has aligned with a narrative about the surge in gun sales that has accompanied the spread of Covid-19. And the fact that these older-generation Boy Scouts show up in public with their trusty guns only tends to underscore the idea that the country may be facing the beginnings of a true, revolutionary movement representing whatever rhetorical nonsense these great patriots put together from a combination of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.

Granted, there has been a surge in gun sales. For example, In my state, Massachusetts, a year-to-year comparison shows an increase in background checks for guns sold by dealers to consumers of somewhere around 80%.

Granted, there has also been a disturbing increase in homicides throughout the United States. But the guns that figure in most gun assaults, fatal and non-fatal, are rarely guns that are legally owned, and the average time between when a gun is first purchased and when it is used in the commission of a crime happens to be – ready? – more than 11 years.

I’m not trying to dismiss or downplay the fear and intimidation engendered by the spectacle of some guys walking down the street in their camo costumes and brandishing their AR’s. If nothing else, such displays of infantile stupidity on the part of adults always evokes memories and fears of mass shootings like the massacres at Las Vegas or Sandy Hook.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that the legal sale of an assault rifle to a nut like Steve Paddock or Nancy Lanza could result in community-wide trauma and multiple deaths. It’s quite another to foster the impression that behind a dozen or so middle-age schmucks who have nothing better to do than show up at a public rally and wave their guns, there lurks an unseen and  increasingly large army of like-minded dopes getting ready to declare a new civil war.

When a guy sells t-shirts and other crap to support the militia on his website tells you that his group numbers a thousand or more, shouldn’t you at least try to verify his claim? Fogelson’s article describes a gathering of some of these jerk-offs at the barbershop of a guy who refused to close down after Michigan’s Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, imposed lockdown rules back in May.

Guess who called up in the middle of this brief demonstration of patriotic lore? None other than Glenn Beck, who hoped he could score the same degree of media coverage that Sean Hannity thought he would get until Cliven Bundy began lecturing Hannity on ‘your Negro’ during the standoff outside his ranch.

What I’m suggesting is that the militia movement wouldn’t ever get beyond the weekend pizza and beer tailgate party except for the possibility that one of the gang might see his picture that night on Fox News. What I’m also suggesting is that the liberal media might consider not trying to compete  with the alt-right when it comes to taking those dopes seriously or discussing them at all.

Here Comes Cliven Bundy Again To Protect Your 2nd-Amendment Rights.

You may recall back in 2014 that Arizona rancher Cliven Bundy briefly became the darling of the Conservative movement when a long-standing dispute with the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) spilled over into an armed, but ultimately non-violent confrontation between Bundy’s supporters and the federal law enforcement crowd.  Bundy was on his way to becoming the poster-boy for the Right until he uttered a series of racist comments (“let me tell you about your Negro”) that got him condemned by Fox News and that was the end of that.

2A              Now he’s back in the public eye again because his three sons, along with as many as 150 other protestors, have taken over an unoccupied administration compound in Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to protest the jail sentences of two Oregon ranchers – Dwight and Steve Hammond – who were convicted of arson on national forest lands and now must serve five years in jail.  The Bundy boys claim they are members of a well-armed militia and are prepared to use force to maintain local control over BLM land.  As of Saturday night, the occupiers were feasting on chili brought up to them by friendly locals; meanwhile, the story is beginning to circulate on national media as well as the requisite Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Although the Bundy boys haven’t yet starting selling t-shirts, they make a point of referring to themselves and their merry band as a ‘militia,’ as well as making it clear that they are armed.  Ammon Bundy has been quoted as saying that he and the others will fight and even die to defend what he refers to as the ‘Constitutional rights of states’ to manage their own lands.  The occupation at Malheur is actually a spill-over from a Carson City rally led by Cliven Bundy to support a bill introduced by Rep. Michele Fiore allowing Nevada to seize and manage any federal property, even though there is no Constitutional provision that would actually allow for such a state of affairs. Fiore is the loony legislator who admits to bringing her handgun into gun-free zones because she claims to carry the piece in her bra, so what’s a girl supposed to do?

You can be sure that if this silliness at Malheur gets serious, we will see the usual liberal-conservative division of opinion that takes place whenever states’ rights versus federal authority hove into view.  And one of the issues that will surely be raised is the alleged willingness of this Bundy militia to use armed force if necessary, particularly when the President is making headlines by considering more regulation of guns.  Sooner or later we’ll be treated to a peroration by some gun nut about how these valiant freedom fighters are a living example of the sanctity of 2nd-Amendment rights.  There were hundreds of such comments floating around during the Bundy ranch standoff in 2014, and I’ll quote just one: “The Bundy Ranch standoff is but the latest example as to why the Founding Fathers codified this Right to bear arms.”

But rather than just dismissing this kind of talk as the usual, right-wing rant over 2nd-Amendment rights, my friends in the GVP movement should take a moment and ask themselves whose ox is really being gored.  Because when the SCOTUS decided in 2008 that Americans had the right to keep a handgun in their homes, it was liberals like Breyer and Stevens who dissented based on the idea that the 2nd Amendment only protected gun ownership in instances of military service completely disconnected from any kind of personal defense.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not defending the Bundy boys or the idea that anyone should walk around armed.  But if liberals want to believe that the 2nd Amendment reflects a tradition of resistance to government tyranny, then they need to be prepared to support such resistance, whether it comes from the Left or the Right.  On the other hand, perhaps it would be more consistent just to junk the 2nd Amendment itself.