6/95 OK City And Demonizing Militias

Militia Is Not a Four-Letter Word
Larry Pratt
Executive Director
Gun Owners of America

Following the tragedy in Oklahoma City, a campaign of political opportunism was generated. An effort was made, which is ongoing, to vilify the political opposition credited with throwing the anti-gun leadership of the Democratic party out of their long-held power in the U.S. Congress.

President Clinton publicly attributed the loss of 21 seats in the House of Representatives to the pro-Second Amendment vote in the 1994 elections. While the President’s number is low, it was sufficient to turn over control of the House to the Republicans for the first time in 40 years.

Nothing is fair in warfare or politics, it seems. The President, along with many in the media, cranked up a campaign to neutralize a crucial part of his opposition. Critics of the government in general were accused of having created a climate of hate that somehow provoked those who committed the bombing atrocity in Oklahoma City.

Soon the opposition frenzy focused on the militia. When the key suspect, Timothy McVeigh, was found to have attended a militia meeting or two in Michigan, the case was closed. For the President and his supporters, the militia had been found guilty. Inadmissible as evidence was the fact that McVeigh’s rhetoric was unacceptable to the militia members he met with and they disinvited him from future meetings.

Also inadmissible in the “conviction” of the militia was the fact that virtually all militias are lawful. It is not against the law to put on camouflage clothing, to own more than one gun or to run around in the woods. Peaceful assembly is protected by the First Amendment, even as the right to keep and bear arms is protected by the Second.

America does not need laws against militias, nor even a congressional investigation. We will not be made safer by expanding unconstitutional powers of Federal agencies to intimidate political opponents of the party in power. Violating the Bill of Rights not make us safer, it will only endanger our freedoms.

Let’s hope the politicians decide to restore capital punishment in America rather than conduct a witch hunt against the constitutionally protected liberties of the people. Punishing the guilty seems more valuable than persecuting the innocent.