The Oregon militia standoff shouldn't end in bloodshed

There’s a lot going on as regards the standoff in Oregon involving three of Cliven Bundy’s sons and the federal government. Jazz has already offered his opinion on the matter, and I mostly agree with him. But I’m not sure the term “armed troops” is appropriate to describe Bundy’s group because that suggests they’re in tactical gear. That doesn’t appear to be true based off what Ammon Bundy’s video posted on Facebook.

Standing for the rights of men & women

BREAKING! SHARE! Standing for the rights of Men & Women. Calling all freedom loving people to come to Harney County Oregon, come to the Malhuer Wildlife Refuge. The people are finally getting some good use out of a federal facility.

Posted by Bundy Ranch on Saturday, January 2, 2016

He repeated the comments to CNN this morning, calling his group “concerned citizens” who are acting to make sure ranchers have land for their children. It makes sense for Bundy to be concerned about ranchland, given what’s been going on with his father, but his methods are questionable because of how it can be spun in the media. The group showed foresight in taking over a remote, empty facility, but the way it’s being portrayed publicly is different. The Oregonian certainly seems to be ramping up the rhetoric against Bundy’s group (emphasis mine).

Among those joining Bundy in the occupation are Ryan Payne,  U.S. Army veteran, and Blaine Cooper. Payne has claimed to have helped organize militia snipers to target federal agents in a standoff last year in Nevada. He told one news organization the federal agents would have been killed had they made the wrong move.

He has been a steady presence in Burns in recent weeks, questioning people who were critical of the militia’s presence. He typically had a holstered sidearm as he moved around the community.

The problem is The Oregonian is overblowing what Payne actually told Missoula Independent about what the “militia snipers” were doing during the Bundy Ranch situation last year.

“We locked them down,” Payne says. “We had counter-sniper positions on their sniper positions. We had at least one guy—sometimes two guys—per BLM agent in there. So, it was a complete tactical superiority. … If they made one wrong move, every single BLM agent in that camp would’ve died.”

That’s a lot different than the vague term “federal agents,” and suggests Payne was just making sure his men could beat the Bureau of Land Management if it came to that. It’s also possible Payne was just bragging to puff up his own self-image, as BLM denied using snipers. But it’s ridiculous for The Oregonian to not provide better context to Payne’s statements. It’s also foolish to emphasize the fact Payne was armed whenever he talked to people. This may be a bit of a shock to the Left, but Oregon is an open carry state so Payne can carry a handgun without a problem. It doesn’t appear he was walking up to people, showing the gun and yelling, “WHO DO YOU SUPPORT?” but just carrying the gun for protection. It probably seemed odd to some people, but to others in rural Oregon it may not have been an issue. One thing which is an issue is the fact people in Burns don’t want Bundy’s group there. Bob Owens at has a piece pointing this out, and how it could end up hurting more than helping.

These militiamen seem to be forgetting a key fact: a force opposing government only has a measure of philosophical legitimacy if the people want their support. In this instance, the Hammonds simply want to turn themselves on Monday and finish serving their time.

These militiamen need to stop attempting to hijack the Hammond case in an attempt to stay relevant, and let Dwight and Steven Hammond peacefully turn themselves in and finish serving their time.

So what happens if Bundy’s group decides to stick around and won’t leave the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge? Hopefully, not violence. This is where authorities need to show patience, and not do anything which ends up endangering the lives of anyone. Bundy’s group isn’t hurting people, and, at worst, is guilty of trespassing. Yes, they’re armed but that doesn’t mean SWAT needs to go rolling into the refuge or a drone be used to end the standoff. That would be the worst thing to happen, and bring back memories of Waco and Ruby Ridge. Federal and local authorities will just have to wait out Ammon Bundy and the rest of the occupiers, until they decide to leave. It may take a while, but it’s well worth it if no lives are lost. Bundy’s group needs to go, but having it happen through a haze of gun smoke and bodies is a bad idea.

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