Monday, January 04, 2016

Ammon Bundy Militia

Seventy-year-old Dwight Hammond Jr. and son Steven D. Hammond, 43 are cattle ranchers in South East Oregon. The Hammonds face five-year mandatory minimum prison sentences plus maximum fines of $250,000 each and restitution for setting several relatively small fires on BLM land. 

The government alleged the Hammonds set a range fire in 2001 to reduce the growth of juniper trees and sagebrush and to accelerate the production of rangeland grasses for cattle feed.  In several other cases the Hammonds admitted to setting several supression or back fires in response to natural wildfires. However, the government concluded that "fires intentionally set on public lands endanger firefighters and the public."

The Hammonds were originally given light sentences in 2012, but the federal government recently appealed the original sentence and is sending them back to jail to serve their full 5-year minimum sentence under a domestic terrorism law. Many think this appeal and re-sentencing constitutes double jeopardy where a person is tried twice for the same or similar offenses. 

Cattle rancher Cliven Bundy had a standoff with BLM and ATF agents in 2014.  The Bundy's had been grazing cattle on BLM land without paying grazing fees since 1993.  Tea Party activists, and militia groups from around the country congregated at the Bundy Ranch to prevent the forceable removal of Bundy cattle from BLM land.  BLM eventually suspended the operation  because of bad media publicity and to prevent an armed escalation.

In the latest development, Ammon Bundy and several other sons of Cliven Bundy sought to make a similar stand with the Hammond's and resist the Federal Goverment action.  The Hammonds didn't want to fight and turned themselves in to return to jail. However, instead of giving up, Ammon Bundy and a small group decided to take over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters. Ammon Bundy, minus their father Cliven, are again calling for patriots, Tea Party activists, and militia groups to gather with them at the refuge.

Taking over a federal government refuge and calling out for reinforcements could easily escalate into another Ruby Ridge, Waco situation, or worse.  Yet, if the Federal government had any serious intention of diffusing this situation they would prevent any more sympathizers from traveling into the area. The FEDs could easily cut them off now.  If their numbers swell, then its only because it is being allowed. 

What has the LDS Church said about militias and armed government protests? LDS Church Apostle Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke on these issues in a 2012 Regional Conference at BYU:

"Another example that I understand to be current among some members in this part of this church is the influence of right-wing groups who mistakenly apply prophecies about the last days to promote efforts to form paramilitary or other organizations. Such groups might undermine the authority of public officials in the event of extraordinary emergencies or even in cases of simple disagreement with government policy. The leaders of the church have always taught that we should observe the law and we should not try to substitute our own organizations for the political and military authorities put in place by Constitutional government and processes. We counsel against joining or supporting paramilitary organizations. I have sometimes taught this principle by reminding that the church has counseled the storage of food and water, not the storage of arms and ammunition."

--Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Regional Conference,  BYU Marriot Center, Sept 17, 2012.

Official LDS Statement on Oregon Stand-Off:

"While the disagreement occurring in Oregon about the use of federal lands is not a Church matter, Church leaders strongly condemn the armed seizure of the facility and are deeply troubled by the reports that those who have seized the facility suggest that they are doing so based on scriptural principles. This armed occupation can in no way be justified on a scriptural basis. We are privileged to live in a nation where conflicts with government or private groups can – and should – be settled using peaceful means, according to the laws of the land.”

You can't fight to preserve the US Constitution by disgarding the Constitution.  The Book of Mormon calls for us to conduct governmemt by the voice of the people.

That being said, I do sympathize with the Hammonds and other ranchers. I do feel like their are serious issues here and Constitutional violations.  The Hammonds were a victim of double jeopardy,  they were unfairly tried and convicted as terrorists. I also agree that the Federal government should not have control of 1/3 of US Land. I don't necessarily mind an occupy movement either but I would prefer using the Constitutional mechanisms to restore the constitution and I don't like the "militia/militant" side of the movement.


Donna Hammond said...

I Stand with Ammon; these events were obviously reported to Elder Oaks incorrectly.
This is NOT a militant action; but they are prepared to NOT be bullied any longer.
The Bundy's have the Supreme Law of the land on their side; and time will reveal that this was a last resort... all other means of redress have been exhausted. This is a PEACEFUL ATTEMPT to correct the corruption & tyranny facing ALL American by over-reaching unlawfully created & funded Federal agencies, whose agenda is to destroy the American way of life; liberty & property. I was there, I have been watching the mischief that has become nothing more than EVERYDAY EVIL in its reports to the rest of the world. IF not NOW; WHEN; we have been reduced to tributary slaves; we don't even realize the chains that bind us down.
Would you condone Nephi slaying Laben at the time? But do you now? How many individuals have to be tyrannically run over to say enough is enough; and it's TIME to STAND UP!

David B said...

Donna, thank you for your response. I sympathize with the Hammonds and Bundy's and others. The Obama administration is attacking private medical groups with decreased reimbursement and targeted audits.

I feel for the Bundy's situation. I think this would have gone better if the Hammonds and Bundys had stood together with the support of the local sheriff and local residents.

My real point here is Ammon would do well to make these points1. we are not threatening anyone 2. we went to the refuge as to not disrupt Burns 3. The refuge was closed for the winter and noone was here 4. this is a peaceful occupy movement 5. we are here at the refuge to further raise awareness and further detail our grevances against the FED government.

Stenson said...

If the church makes a statement against a militia type movement that is all I need to hear. The timing for such a thing is not now. There will be a time for a modern day title of liberty to be raised, but the church must fulfill its greater mission, and that is to spread the gospel and prepare for the Coming of the Lord.

Donna Hammond said...

I think if you'll look it up... Bundy's DID make all 5 of your points by their actions:

They NEVER threatened anyone.
The Refuge was unlocked, unoccupied and unbelievable left a mess by the Feds. It also belongs to the people, not the Feds..... therefore there is no trespass. And it is 30 miles from Burns so they were bothering NO ONE!
They demonstrated & stated it is "a Right to Peacefully Protest"
They were there to do a job: was stated many times; patiently waiting on the Sheriff for an answer to the Redress of Grievance filed and thus far ignored.