Let me be clear: the situation in Oregon does not remotely compare to the events that took place at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada. In Nevada, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was the aggressor, which included a very real threat of violence against the Bundy family. The Bundy family appealed to their neighbors and friends for help. And help rightly arrived. The legal nuances of the Bundy situation notwithstanding, BLM gave the appearance of preparing another Waco incident that just could not be tolerated. Over 80 innocent Americans, including elderly men and women and small children, were murdered by our federal government during that unconscionable raid. There must NEVER be another Waco in this country.
The decision of Ammon Bundy (Cliven Bundy’s son)–and the men who are with him–to mount an armed takeover of the remote, empty Malheur National Wildlife Refuge building in Harney County outside Burns, Oregon, is unwise, careless, and downright foolish. There is no just cause for such action.
Previous to the move to take over the federal building, a peaceful protest in support of the Hammond family had taken place in Burns. This protest was commendable and well-conducted. Hundreds of local residents took part in that peaceful protest. The local community of Burns was very sympathetic to the plight of the Hammonds and rightly angered by the federal government’s treatment of them.
Dwight Hammond, Jr. and his son Steven had been arrested, tried, and convicted of arson for the burning of federal land that adjoins Hammond land. The Hammonds say they were burning their land for agricultural purposes and the fire inadvertently spread to federal land. The feds say the Hammonds burned the land to cover up poaching. The two men were found guilty by a jury and sentenced to five years in prison. A district court judge found the sentences to be excessive (and therefore unconstitutional) and sentenced the men to less time; but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the lesser sentence and the five year prison term was reinstated.
Even if the prosecutor’s version of the story is true, a five-year prison sentence for such a crime is overkill beyond description–the Ninth Circuit decision notwithstanding. There are thousands of people who have been convicted of various forms of manslaughter who have not served that many years in prison. People in Burns are justified in being angry at the sentence handed to their friends, the Hammonds.
But the truth is, the conflict between the federal government and ranchers, farmers, and miners in the western states has been ongoing in earnest since at least the 1970s. And in this writer’s opinion, the people of the western states are completely justified in being angry at the way the federal government continues to encroach upon the liberties and properties of the people of these states. In truth, it is long past due that the governors and State legislatures of these states grow some man stuff and start reclaiming so-called federal land. And while they are doing that, they should tell the BLM to go back to Washington, D.C.–or go to hades for that matter–and get their hind ends out of their states. If State governments and county sheriffs in the West would do what is right–and would start protecting the liberties and properties of the citizens within their states from these federal abuses–most, if not all, of these conflicts would go away.
So, the peaceful protest in Burns was certainly justified. And as a result, the momentum for reclamation of State sovereignty and individual liberty was further enhanced. People all over America–especially in the West–are growing increasingly impatient with overbearing, bullying federal agencies such as BLM.
But immediately following the successful protest, Ammon Bundy and several other men decided to take aggressive action and mounted an armed takeover of the remote federal facility about fifty miles south of Burns, which was empty for the holidays. By taking this action, these men gave up the moral high ground and, in essence, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
In the first place, the Hammond family publicly repudiated the actions of these men and chose to give themselves up to officials to serve out the sentence that had been handed them. There are great disagreements about whether the Hammonds’ motives in burning the land were innocent or malicious. And, as noted, there is room for much debate regarding if the crime (if it was a crime) truly warranted the sentence they received. Regardless, the Hammonds chose to accept their sentence and reject any attempt (especially one involving a show of force) to interfere. This fact alone settles the matter.
Citizens coming together to peacefully protest a perceived injustice is as American as mom and apple pie. But a group of citizens acting as a mob and, with a show of force, taking over a public (or private) facility when there is no threat to life is just plain wrong–anger with BLM notwithstanding. As my mother often told me, “Two wrongs do not make a right.” Indeed.
Some have tried to compare the takeover of the federal buildings near Burns to Lexington and Concord. But the comparison just doesn’t exist.
Our colonial forebears endured “a long train of abuses” (Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence) for decades. Even the Boston Massacre in 1770 did not trigger an armed response from the colonists. The battles of Lexington and Concord took place when British troops marched on the Massachusetts villages in an attempt at mass gun confiscation. There is nothing of the sort going on in Burns, Oregon.
Neither was there a threat of violence against innocent men, women, and children at Burns as was the case at Bundy Ranch. In truth, these men in Oregon are acting as aggressors, not as defenders. Bundyville was a justified act of self-defense; Burns, Oregon, is not.
I was at Bundy Ranch. I publicly supported the efforts of the men who went to Nevada in the defense of the Bundy family in this column, from the platform of Liberty Fellowship, and in numerous interviews with the media. I even had the honor of bringing a Bible sermon to the brave men at Bundyville–which also included Nevada public officials, by the way. In that address, I strongly cautioned all of them to make sure that our actions were always pure and right in eyes of just law–and especially in the eyes of a Just and Holy God. I invite readers to watch the video of my address at Bundy Ranch here:
Make no mistake about it: if our federal government (or any other government) attempts to confiscate our firearms as did British troops in 1775, a Natural state of war against the American people will have been declared at that moment, and I will be at the front of the line in calling for armed resistance. Burns, Oregon, is not remotely close to that. There is absolutely NO COMPARISON between the current situation in Oregon and Lexington and Concord.
In the next place, I personally believe that government agent provocateurs infiltrated and agitated these men into taking this action, thereby giving the federal government the excuse it needs to justify Obama’s Executive Order enacting stricter rules on gun purchases. In my opinion, both of these events happening during the exact same week is NOT a coincidence.
I am very familiar with people who are on the ground in Oregon, and I can tell you that at least two of the men involved in the armed takeover of the federal facility near Burns were also agitators and provocateurs at Bundy Ranch. Fortunately, at Bundyville, those men were plainly instructed to leave the area before they were able to inflict any significant damage. Although, I can tell you that it was only due to the cool heads and calm spirits of the good men at Bundy Ranch that kept those agitators from potential violence and resultant loss of life. Unfortunately, those same men are now in Oregon. If these men are not government provocateurs, they are certainly helping the government with a lot of free work.
Whether my supposition is true or not, it doesn’t justify the individual decisions of Ammon Bundy and his followers to act in this manner. If I could talk to them, I would encourage them in the strongest terms possible to peacefully walk away from this situation. All this does is fuel the anti-gun hysteria of already hysterical anti-gun zealots in and out of Washington, D.C., and also serves to allow the anti-gun media to further demonize proponents of the Second Amendment and constitutionally-ordained militia.
By taking the action they did, Ammon Bundy and the others are helping to reverse the pro-freedom, pro-Second Amendment momentum and to provide an excuse for gun-grabbers like Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi to justify more anti-gun legislation. In other words, Ammon and his followers are actually assisting the very people they claim to be resisting.
Speaking of Obama’s gun grab, we can all thank House Speaker Paul Ryan and his fellow Republicans such as Montana congressman Ryan Zinke for Obama’s Executive Order further restricting the purchase of firearms. It was Ryan’s $1.1 trillion Omnibus bill that fully funded Obama’s executive decision.
See this report:
Furthermore, while bemoaning the President’s decision, Republican House members have said absolutely NOTHING about defunding Obama’s Executive Order, which is in their power to do, and which would completely take away the means for the executive branch to enforce the order.
See this report:
There is no justification for what Ammon Bundy and his followers have done in Burns, Oregon–all other factors notwithstanding.
At the same time, our federal government needs to be careful not to overreact to this situation by resorting to a Waco-style assault against these men. People all over America are growing weary of their own “train of abuses” from Washington, D.C. They will not sit still for another Waco. These men are isolated in a remote wilderness area and pose no risk to innocent life. Hopefully, federal officials will use patience and restraint and allow this situation to defuse peacefully. Better yet, the Feds should completely stay out of the situation and let the sheriff of Harney County handle it. I do not trust this administration any more than we could trust the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton who authorized the raids at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas. I ask all readers of this column to join together in prayer for divine intervention and a peaceful, non-violent resolution of this matter.
P.S. To help people understand the importance of Natural and divine law relative to these crucial issues, I have a DVD containing four messages on the subject. The titles of these messages are:
“Biblical Evidence For Natural Law”
“Christ’s Law Of The Sword”
“The Law Of Necessity”
“Liberty In Law”
In light of the fact that so many freedom-minded patriots seem unable to understand the difference between Bundy Ranch and Burns, Oregon–and given the volatile nature of the times in which we live–it is absolutely critical that we understand the difference between just and unjust resistance. The fact that the vast majority of our pastors no longer teach these Biblical principles contributes mightily to the ignorance now rampant among us.
If we do not have the blessing of Heaven upon our attitudes and actions, there will be no positive result–no matter how good our intentions might be. I believe the events in Oregon demand that people familiarize themselves with these immutable principles.
Order the four-message DVD entitled “Liberty And Law” here: