Living only a short distance from the standoff at the time, I hurried to the Bundy Ranch in 2014 to cover the shocking events and learn more about the dispute. While so many in the media (including so-called conservatives) asserted that Cliven Bundy’s dispute was because he “didn’t want to pay his taxes,” the issue proved to be so much larger than that.
Nevada, the Bundys’ home state since the 1870’s, cannot really profess to be a state at all. Sure, it has a government, but the land is claimed by the federal government. That is, even by generous estimates, the federal government claims no less than 85% of all land in the state. The Bundys were in a decades-long dispute because the land that they (and other ranchers) used to graze their cattle since the days of the Wild West had been restricted by the federal government.
The feds asserted that the Bundys had no right to be on “their” land and with this assertion came a startling federal occupation. Peaceful protesters were being abused and, for want of a better term, “roughed-up” by federal Stormtroopers who asserted that any who wished to speak freely must do so from within the confines of a designated “free speech zone.”
The nation took notice of the stand-off. However, soon, I found myself on a freeway bridge overlooking a wash. Hundreds of armed protesters demanded the return of the cattle stolen by the federal government. Federal agents, geared-up from head-to-toe in body armor and with rifles, stood vigil as tension filled the spacious desert. A single shot by anyone would have ignited a bloodbath and potentially a new American revolution.
The federal government blinked and released the cattle and the day ended without bloodshed.
However, the issue is still far from over and several Bundy Family members and hundreds of armed militia members have seized a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon in protest of federal tyranny.
The federal government still maintains that they are allowed to control the vast majority of land in the West. Though Nevada only enjoys 15% of the land in their state, Oregon does not fare much better as the federal government lays claim to 53% of the land in the Beaver State.
Harney County, Oregon, ranchers Dwight Hammond, 73, and his son Steven Hammond, 46, were found guilty in 2012 of a federal anti-terrorism statute. Their crime was simply doing what the government would not: the ranchers burned areas to neutralize the threats to their land, threats that included invasive species of plants and the ever-looming threat of wildfires. The duo conducted burns that were once routine in the densely-wooded state of Oregon, but that have slowed dramatically in recent decades as militant environmentalists refuse to allow responsible forest management techniques that include burns.
For their “crime,” the Hammonds were charged in connection with a 2001 fire and Steven was charged in connection with a 2006 fire. The judge, U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan,…