Are Americans going to witness another Ruby Ridge? Another Waco? Tensions continue to escalate in Nevada as longtime rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government face off. While Bundy holds strong against the federal government, federal authorities have converged with a show of force eerily reminiscent of the overzealousness found in the sieges on Ruby Ridge and Waco decades earlier.
Federal authorities and Mr. Bundy have been in a dispute for some 20 years over the grazing of his cattle. The 600,000 acre land that Bundy uses to graze his cattle is claimed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the area has been off-limits to grazing since 1998.
However, Bundy maintains that the arbitrary rule was designed to run ranchers like him out of business and notes that his father’s cattle grazed on the land and his father’s cattle grazed, too.
“We own this land,” he said, not the federal government. Bundy claimed that he is willing to pay grazing fees but to the county, not BLM.
“Years ago, I used to have 52 neighboring ranchers,” he said. “I’m the last man standing. How come? Because BLM regulated these people off the land and out of business.”“I have raised cattle on that land, which is public land for the people of Clark County, all my life. Why I raise cattle there and why I can raise cattle there is because I have preemptive rights,” he said, explaining that that includes the right to forage.“Who is the trespasser here? Who is the trespasser on this land? Is the United States trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land? Or is it Cliven Bundy who is trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land? Who’s the trespasser?”
Bundy claims that his family has been working the land since the 1880’s and that the federal government has no right to kick him or his cattle off the land.
But that’s exactly what they’ve done…
Last weekend, federal authorities descended upon the rancher’s home and began seizing Bundy’s cattle. BLM is considering auctioning off the seized cattle.
The show of force was an affirmation of government’s militancy as the siege included tons of armed agents, SUVs, helicopters and snipers. Bundy’s son, Dave, was arrested in an altercation with the federal agents when he tried to film the agents’ actions outside a zone designated as a “First Amendment zone.”
A BLM spokesman claimed that Dave Bundy was arrested “following failure to comply with multiple requests by BLM law enforcement to leave the temporary closure area on public lands.”
Speaking with Fox News about past confrontations with federal authorities, like the stand-off at Ruby Ridge where agents laid siege to a family’s home for days and where snipers killed Randy Weaver’s wife and son, Bundy admitted, “Yeah, there’s a little fear in me. They’re definitely set up to do that.”
The federal government and Bundy have been in dispute for decades over the area known as Gold Butte. While the Bundy family long paid grazing fees, they stopped in 1993, claiming that they had been working the land since the 1880’s and that the money should go to Nevada, not the federal government.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office has declined to get involved in the stand-off, allowing federal authorities to duke it out with the fiery rancher.
Bundy has been clear that the issue is not about cattle, but about the right of the federal government to dictate what will happen in states.
“It’s a freedom issue. It’s not about cows. It’s a state rights issue. I really hope that we can learn and defend our liberties here and keep on fighting until the end,” Bundy said. “I don’t when the end is going to be, but I believe that America is the greatest land in the world and it needs to be protected.”“Our rights and liberties need to be protected and we’re going to stand for that,” he added.
Once upon a time, those who claimed that the government would try to infringe upon our Second Amendment rights were called crazy. Those that thought the IRS was targeting political groups, those that thought the government was spying on them- all were derided at times for these seemingly far-fetched beliefs. They were the ramblings of the tinfoil-hat-adorned who feared the black helicopters and federal snipers.
However, this government remains hostile to Second Amendment liberties; they have targeted political groups; they have been spying on citizens. Now, Cliven Bundy awakens each morning to low-flying helicopters, perched snipers and overbearing federal agents who remind him that the First Amendment exists only in specially-outlined areas.
Let us hope and pray that this issue is resolved without bloodshed.