Rest safely, citizens! The FBI has got your back and will protect you against the radical, extremist, violent tendencies of … citizens? You right wing radicals must be at it again, at least in the eyes of some FBI officers at a recent press briefing.

Anti-government extremists opposed to taxes and regulations pose a growing threat to local law enforcement officers in the United States, the FBI warned on Monday.

These extremists, sometimes known as “sovereign citizens,” believe they can live outside any type of government authority, FBI agents said at a news conference.

The extremists may refuse to pay taxes, defy government environmental regulations and believe the United States went bankrupt by going off the gold standard.

Routine encounters with police can turn violent “at the drop of a hat,” said Stuart McArthur, deputy assistant director in the FBI’s counterterrorism division.

Let’s see… people who are unhappy about tax policy, are opposed to excessive environmental regulations.. sound like anyone you know? That final one, though – identifying people who wish to return to the gold standard – seems to be a particularly focused shot at Ron Paul’s followers, particularly given all the headlines he’s getting as a presidential candidate.

Dave Nalle casts a jaundiced eye at the specific warnings.

Citing three specific cases in three years and a trend of an increase in arrests of believers in individual sovereignty from 10 to 18 cases per year, mostly for non-violent crimes, the FBI declared law enforcement to be “inundated” with threats.

This may be the most exaggerated and offensive example of specious fearmongering to come out of an administration which has been promoting irrational fear of generally harmless groups of citizens for three years. The FBI is taking aim at a huge body of citizens who are increasingly angry about government abuse of power and irresponsibility and attempting to turn them into a movement of dangerous potential terrorists.

The agency really needs to give us a bit more to go on here, as Nalle points out. With this “rise of incidents” they manage to cite two men in Arkansas and one in Texas who engaged in gunfights with the police during traffic stops. The rest of the “increase” in cases are, by their own admission, complaints filed against white collar criminals engaged in fraud and/or tax evasion.

When it comes to violence, I think we can all remain firmly on the side of the FBI. If there are any more violent kooks out there building bombs for home use, I certainly want them found. As for the three men noted in the report, if you happen to be the type of person who reacts to a traffic stop by whipping out a gun, the odds are pretty good that you’ve got bigger issues to deal with and are likely several french fries short of a Happy Meal.

One closing thought for you to ponder. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen these reports, and it doubtless won’t be the last. But … is it just me, here, or do they seem to mostly pop up during election years when there’s a Democrat in the White House? Hey… I’m just asking here. No need to send the ATFE over to my private gun range or anything.