2nd amendment preservation bills
I told you so. And I will keep telling you I told you so because I did.
This story from the Eugene Weekly does a good job of explaining the initiatives. Importantly the article indicates there is a central organizing effort:
Voters approved “Second Amendment Preservation Ordinances” (SAPOs) in eight Oregon counties, including three counties that border Lane County: Douglas, Linn and Klamath counties. Lane County had no similar measure up for vote.
During the midterm elections, SAPOs also passed in Baker, Columbia, Lake, Umatilla and Union counties. The ordinances failed in Lincoln and Jackson counties. It is a mistake to think these kinds of bills, local whatever exist in the west, however, that is a false assumption – Wyoming County (NEW YORK) Board of Supervisors submitted for passage a decree protecting the county from encroaching state government.
I wrote this oh, I don’t know two years ago. I tried to sell it into several publications but it was hard to cut through the noise - and it seemed like these SAPOs weren’t really all that threatening (yet) and that that pang in my journalistic gut may well prove true (according to all my editor friends) it couldn’t cut through the onslaught of daily Trump twitter missives.
Vive le journalism.
Anywhoo. I have just dumped it all here - it isn’t complete. But because everything is a landslide these days I am giving you this brief primer to help you navigate your own research on what these bills are intended to do.
On Jan. 11, 2007, then FBI Director Robert Mueller gave testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and was asked to address homegrown terrorism. "The militia/sovereign citizen movement," he said, "continues to present a threat to law enforcement and members of the judiciary. Members of these groups will continue to intimidate and sometimes threaten judges, prosecutors, and other officers of the court."
Then again in 2011 Director Mueller reiterated during a Senate Oversight Committee hearing that militias, white supremacists and sovereign citizens “extremist” groups would be a domestic terrorism threat and used the April 19, 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City as the understood example. Terry Nichols – Timothy McVeigh’s co-conspirator – was a sovereign citizen. He is currently serving 161 consecutive life terms for murder.
Twice during his tenure Director Mueller made clear the groups who will be responsible for domestic terrorism. While most people get what militias or white supremacy groups are it is likely sovereign citizen is a new term to many.
It is a movement hard to define, but according to Southern Poverty Law Center, and other recent studies, sovereign citizen groups are on the rise. Broadly, sovereign citizens do not believe the federal government is illegitimate. The highest law in the land rests at the county level – specifically with county sheriffs though occasionally a state is recognized.
They prop up this belief with a stunning rewrite of American history by psudeo-historians that claim the 14th amendment (along with other documents from the Magna Carta to the Bible) created a shadow government where citizens – people - were no longer free. SCs history dating back to the early 1970s and an offshoot of white Christian identity hate groups, are willing to die and kill for their beliefs.
It’s important to understand the idea of “lone wolf” terrorism in context of the theory of leaderless resistance, which has animated the white power movement and affiliated groups like sovereign citizens since the early 1980s. It is advantageous for these groups to be seen as a leaderless resistance. “Lone wolf,” as an idea, claims or implies that the actors are individual, disconnected, and often crazy people. It undercuts the idea that they are motivated by a coherent political ideology, and that they act in concert.
But Kathleen Belew, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago, and author of Bringing the War Home - White Power Movement And Paramilitary America - is clear that the lone wolf theory is wrong.
This [lone wolf theory] was designed to foil undercover informants and court prosecutions, but the far greater consequence has been its obliteration of public understanding of white power activism as part of a movement. In other words, without the framework of a movement, and under the myth of “lone wolf” action in which people are purportedly unconnected with one another, there’s never a moment of reckoning when the public really understands this as a broad-based social movement.
Belew has studied white power groups she told me “have long drawn from the ranks of the military. And former soldiers have become leaders of white supremacist groups over the decades.”
According to a 2018 Military Times nearly 25 percent one thousand active-duty service members surveyed said they’d encountered white nationalists within the ranks. This isn’t surprising to Belew but she is careful to say that the members of the military who wind up affiliated with white supremacist groups constitute “a tiny, not even statistically significant percentage” of total service members.
But those few, she said, have often played “an enormously important role” in organizing such groups and carrying out their bloodiest actions – like Timothy McVeigh.
Militias, white nationalist groups and sovereign citizens share a common ancestry: White Christian Identity groups – some well-known like the KKK and other more obscure like Posse Comitatus.
To dispel the myth of lone wolf violence would require a broad public knowledge of white power activism as a social movement—this would call for the education of jurors, prosecutors, lawmakers, and the general public.
Under the Trump administration the needed education – connecting the dots between racists, militants and sovereign citizens as anti-government terrorists – isn’t likely. Trumps equivocating “good people on both sides” rhetoric, his aggressive implementation of racist policies, racist tweets and his notable silence on race based violence and congressmen’s white nationalist rants (Steve King, Kevin McCarthy) didn’t create the problem instead he has fostered an environment for these groups to flourish.
Once hard to define with numbers of adherents difficult to gauge like-minded hat groups have coalesced. The militias heading to the southern border – Oath Keepers – is an armed militia that shares in hatred of the government, immigrants and believe an armed citizenry. The Minutemen as their counterparts to the north – inexplicably heading to the US – Canada border. One of the best – and awful – examples of seemingly disparate groups of right wingery coming together was at the Unite the Right rally where Heather Heyer was killed in Charlottesville.
There are no lone wolves.
On July 11, 2018 a private plane took off from Los Angeles. The short flight scheduled to touchdown in Burns, Oregon around 10:30 that morning. Aboard was the plane’s owner, Forrest Lucas of the Lucas Oil fortune and Dwight and Steven Hammond, father and son cattle ranchers newly released from Terminal Island Minimum Security Federal Prison. Despite setting fire to federal reserve land that nearly killed several firefighters, the Hammonds would return like royalty to their little corner of the world after Donald Trump pardoned them for their act of domestic terrorism.
The Hammonds arrived home in Burns welcomed in the tearful embraces of friends and family. There were American flags waving, kids holding signs welcoming the father and son duo home and holding signs thanking the President.
According to the White House since the Hammonds “are devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community, and have widespread support from their neighbors, local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers across the West” their pardon was long overdue.
It is hard to imagine, then that well respected devoted family man - Dwight Hammond - threatening repeatedly to kill employees of the Fish and Wildlife Management Bureau, perhaps harder still to understand Hammond telling one employee he would “tear off his head and shit down his neck.”
The Hammond’s arson conviction –eventually both men agreed to a plea deal – isn’t their first violent run in with authorities.
Dwight Hammond was arrested in 1994 for violating conditions of his Fish and Wildlife Bureau permit which allowed the Hammonds to move cattle during certain hours through Malheur National Wildlife Reserve. Like many western cattlemen the idea that they should conform to any law governing the use of land for their livestock is anathema; the Hammond’s flouting the terms of their agreement a “fuck you” to the Feds.
The Hammonds – whether they identify or not – are part of a growing movement of so-called Sovereign Citizens who do not recognize the authority of the federal government nor its laws. And, like white nationalists, the Sovereign Citizens’ movement is firmly planted in white western Christian identity. They are armed, dangerous and increasingly impatient despite an the welcoming Trump administration. And, their numbers are growing; the once disparate bands of hate groups from Neo-Nazis (wrongly labeled “alt-right” by the media) to the coiffed and curated Proud Boys are coalescing implementing many of the beliefs and tactics employed by the Sovereign Citizens movement for decades.
Ron Stallworth was a Black cop in 1970s Colorado Springs. A detective, Stallworth successfully infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan and wrote about it in his memoir Black Klansman – which was made into a movie last year and just got an Oscar nomination for best picture. The entire account is worth reading; but one group’s name jumped off the page: Posse Comitatus.
According to Stallworth’s account Posse Comitatus, the right wing group that morphed into the sovereign citizens movement, There, he writes, they honed some groups still use to this day. Specifically paper terrorism. Stallworth writes: “I personally knew some officers who attempted to sell their houses only to find out at a certain point in the process that they could not do so because of a lien the Posse lien placed against it.”
It was 1979.
In September 2017, Hasson sent himself a draft letter that he had written to a neo-Nazi leader and “identified himself as a White Nationalist for over 30 years and advocated for ‘focused violence’ in order to establish a white homeland,” prosecutors wrote.
Law enforcement found 23 guns as well as high-capacity ammunition magazines in Paddock’s Vegas hotel room. These magazines, which are easily purchased at gun stores or online, allow a person to shoot more rounds without stopping to reload as often, but only seven states ban them for use with any firearm. Last Monday, a man in Tennessee was pulled over for a routine traffic stop. According to the Associated Press, the cops found a cache of weapons in his car including two “submachine guns” and over 900 rounds of ammo. Fully automatic weapons, although strictly regulated, are legal to purchase in the U.S. (An ATF spokesman said the agency doesn’t “see a connection” between this arrest and recent mass shootings. A bond hearing is set for Wednesday.)
They are doomsday preppers, paper terrorists, arsonists and murderers. Richard Spencer, Milo, David Duke, are the public face of “good people on both sides”. They are in public view – a narcissistic pathological belief in their own superiority and desperation for attention betrays them: they are easier to track and monitor by law enforcement agencies. It is the disparate and increasingly desperate outliers of SCs and other “patriot” groups we need to know about.
In 2012 it was estimated there were 300,000 SCs. The number has grown, the groups become more organized collecting followers – many former military – at gun shows, “conservative” gatherings and political rallies, etc.
Posse Comitatus translates into “force of the county” meaning the highest legal authority is the county sheriff. This is the core belief of SCs. But how does this really play out? And are these just a few people in the middle of nowhere that we shouldn’t concern ourselves with?
A look back at the 2018 elections and Oregon suggests we should The National Liberty Alliance is a Peoples’ movement that has been initiated in every state of our union, and as of August 2014 has “constituted” all 50 States. This means that we have released press releases in all 3133 United States counties to introduce the People to the Common Law Juries, and take a vote of approval by the showing of hands which have been unanimous or in a few cases an overwhelming majority. We have 1000’s of members and 10’s of 1,000’s of followers that support NLA efforts to save our Constitution.
Abolition of the IRS – and ending federal taxation – is huge. Since the overall belief system places the county as the highest governing body it should be up to counties, municipalites, etc., to decide on matters of taxation – all politics are local is true but they take it to the extreme by shrinking the federal government of all power to legislate, its only power is to command defense . And, basically everything. Sovereign Citizens believe in hyper localism with a basis in right leaning libertarianism. However many of their ideas are held by right wing GOPers.
I was able to connect with the administrator of the National Liberty Alliance Facebook page. But, beyond welcoming my interest and encouraging me to listen to their weekly, national conference calls, but when I started asking more specific questions about their positions – including the recent ballot SAPOs in Oregon, they went quiet.
And there I will leave it - go forth - let me know what you find out.