While it isn’t (yet) a Second Amendment issue, numerous readers have asked us to keep an eye on the situation 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, where a confrontation twenty years in the making seems to be quickly approaching a possible flashpoint.
Cliven Bundy’s family has been raising cattle on public lands in Clark County more than 140 years. The family claims longstanding grazing rights to remote public lands which the family says that they have continually improved since then. The federal government, represented by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) the Federal Bureau of Investigation, (FBI) and unknown contractors are in the process of capturing 900 cattle belong to Bundy on the disputed land, which will them be sold, effectively putting the last ranch in Clark County out of business.
Fox News sums up the situation:
The fight involves a 600,000-acre area under BLM control called Gold Butte, near the Utah border. The vast and rugged land is the habitat of the protected desert tortoise, and ranchers whose cattle graze there must pay fees. Bundy, a descendant of Mormons who settled in Bunkerville more than 140 years ago, claims an inherent right to graze the area and casts the conflict as a states’ rights issue. He said he doesn’t recognize federal authority on land that he insists belongs to Nevada.
BLM spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon said agents on Saturday and Sunday rounded up 134 of an estimated 900 trespassing cattle in a vast 1,200-square-mile area of rangeland northeast of Las Vegas and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Cannon said the roundup was a last resort and blamed Cliven Bundy for “inflammatory statements,” including vows to fight and characterizations of the cow removal as a range war.
A confrontation between Bundy family members and supporters (video, above) turned violent today when BLM police used tasers and dogs against a crowd.
Tensions continue to increase, with scattered militia around the nation apparently moving towards the Bundy ranch.
He didn’t put a specific estimate on how many militia members may come, but he said the groups expected are from places like New Hampshire, Texas and Florida and could number in the hundreds.
“We need to be the barrier between the oppressed and the tyrants,” he said. “Expect to see a band of soldiers.”
Payne, 30, and Lardy, 49, both wore holstered handguns as they spoke, but they downplayed the display of firepower. They wear their weapons daily.
They say the goals are for no one to be harmed, the Bundy family to be protected, and the Bundy property restored.
Other than a few toothless words from Governor Brian Sandoval, Nevada state police and Clark County Sheriff’s forces have chosen to sit on the sidelines of the dispute. They apparently either agree with the federal government’s handling of the dispute, or are simply more concerned about losing federal funding of local and state projects if they stand against the BLM and FBI.
Update: A poster to the Facebook page supporting the Bundy Family claimed that a Jefferson County, CO, M113 armored personnel carrier on loan from the Department of Defense has been brought into the Clark County.
We have reason to doubt the veracity of this claim, and have pulled the image down.