Why the recent spat in Nevada is a bad precedent to set
It appears the day has now come in America when citizens are no longer obliged to obey the laws, provided they own firearms. I’m referring to the recent showdown in Nevada that erupted between the Federal Government and Cliven Bundy. What made the showdown as intense as it was, draws from the fact that Mr. Bundy’s supporters were backing him with guns and the threat of a shootout with federal officials if they didn’t back off of Mr. Bundy.
What exactly was the flap about? A rather trivial land issue between Mr. Bundy and the federal government has been going on for close to twenty years. Cliven Bundy has allowed his cattle to graze freely on federal land while refusing to pay grazing fees that now total over $1 million. Bundy’s refusal to pay up and his continued defiance of the federal government by allowing his cows to graze on public lands has pushed the feds into a difficult situation.
On one hand, the feds simply can’t allow Bundy to break the law without consequence. On the other hand, his supporters are packing heat and are itching to use them if they feel provoked for whatever reason. Worst of all, so many on the right in America is publicly supporting what Bundy and his lot are doing, including certain pundits at Fox News.
The blowback from the BLM backing off in Nevada is not insignificant. It has the potential of setting a very bad precedent. If Cliven Bundy is not punished for his refusal to follow the law and pay his land grazing fees, then it sends a signal to every gun nut in the country that you can break the law as long as you show up in a group with guns. The negative outcomes of this should be quite clear.
Imagine a scenario in which a group of men refused to pay their parking tickets, so they show up to city hall with guns and vow to shoot any official if they try to enforce the ticket laws. This is not that far off from what Bundy and his supporters did.
I find it rather scary when major conservative talking heads come out in support of what Bundy and his supporters are doing. Sean Hannity has been a major vocal mouthpiece for supporting the actions of these would-be militiamen. Even lawmakers, both federal and local, have voiced support for Bundy and feel that more should be done to fight back against what they perceive as a tyrannical government stomping on the individual rights of Mr. Bundy (to not follow the law).
Cliven bundy clings to the thoroughly debunked libertarian theory that the federal government can’t own land. Bundy goes even further saying “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.” Article Four of the United States Constitution clearly states that “[t]he Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.”
We’ve all seen this type of right-wing radicalism before and it has often ended violently. So what do we do in this instance? Allow a rancher who’s been breaking the law for 20 years to keep on going or take a stand and arrest him for the criminal he is? I would argue that doing nothing could be far more dangerous in the long run than arresting him.