I respect the concept of the Oath Keepers, a group of military, law enforcement, and first responders who have come together to form an organization dedicated to preserving and defending the Constitution, not any given government, political party, or administration. It’s an important distinction not typically taught in today’s schools, where civics classes seem to have largely disappeared. As a symbolic organization it is wonderful to have.
The last time we wrote about the Oath Keepers, it was when a small team of Oath Keepers led by a local law enforcement training instructor sat overwatch in a collection of small businesses and residential apartments during last year’s Ferguson riots. In that scenario, the Oath Keepers were welcomed by business owners, and were in a static, and purely defensive posture that was hard to mischaracterize as being aggressive.
Now, flash forward to 2015.
Another small group of Oath Keepers in full “battle rattle” of AR-15 carbines and pistols, wearing body armor and carrying radios, deployed on the streets of Ferguson on the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death. Ostensibly, they were there to protect “journalists” from conspiracy theory site Infowars, a claim Infowars denied to Reuters.
The group, led by a man identified only as John, wore bulletproof vests and carried their rifles with barrels pointed downward. They said they were in Ferguson to protect a journalist from the conservative “Infowars.com” website.
“There were problems here, there were people who got hurt. We needed to be prepared for that,” said John.
Members of the group had patrolled the streets of Ferguson for a time in November, after riots erupted when a grand jury found that a white police officer had broken no laws when he shot dead 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Sunday night’s protests were punctuated by gunfire, and police shot and critically wounded a man accused of firing on police.
An Infowars representative acknowledged by telephone that the Oath Keeper’s had a presence in Ferguson but said it had not asked them for security.
“We happen to be in some of the same circumstances as they are on occasion and ideologically we may share the same views,” said the representative, who asked not to be named citing security concerns. “They are there of their own volition and secondarily they are there to protect anyone who is innocent. Of course, we fall under that because our reporters are reporting.”
It seems quite clear that the four white Oath Keepers self-deployed to a black neighborhood in which there is considerable racial tension, in what many regard as nothing more or less than a show of force. They interjected themselves into a community where they were neither wanted nor requested, and raised tensions instead of assuaging them as the prior group of Oath Keepers did in December of 2014.
Gun blogger J. Kb at the sarcastically named Gun Free Zone notes that there was no conceivable upside to their presence, and the distinct potential for a catastrophic downside.
The reality as to what happened in Missouri a year ago are irrelevant at this point. The narrative is in control this particular train and has the throttle wide open going into a dead man’s curve. As far as the media and the public conscience are concerned there are only three important facts: dead black kid, white shooter, militaristic response by police to social injustice. Guess what, the media just can’t wait for you to take a shot at another unarmed black kid to use you as an exemplar of the “racist, paranoid, white assault rifle owner.”
Go away. I don’t care if you really were a Ranger or if you only played one online, you are fanning the flames and making the rest of us look bad. And before you call me a hypocrite, the Koreans on the rooftops during the LA Riots were defending their business, not patrolling the streets looking like a Blackwater contractor guarding a VIP in the Green Zone. Go home and get out of the spot light. I don’t want to lose my AR because you didn’t know when to leave yours locked in the safe.
Our continuing fight to not only retain but reassert our Second Amendment rights after years of abuse at the hands of an increasingly statist government is one that requires a deft touch, and I’m proud to say that the vast majority of gun owners clearly understand this. As a result, we’re attracting more shooters, across wider cultural lines. Instead of shooting being “merely” an activity for rural white males (as it was commonly perceived), it is now an increasingly popular activity for people of color, women, and urban and suburban shooters. When I was asked to speak recently at the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) Industry Summit, meeting the needs of this increasingly diverse and inclusive group was the key focus of the conference.
And we’ll continue to create a more inclusive “gun culture 2.0” as long as we act intelligently.
I don’t know anything about the individual Oath Keepers involved in this most recent appearance of the Oath Keepers in Ferguson, but then again, their intentions and pedigrees are all but irrelevant. The public perception of what they were doing, and why they were there, is what matters.
They did us no favors.
They set themselves up to be portrayed by an anti-gun mainstream media as armed bullies itching for a fight, which was as predictable in this context as the sun coming up in the morning. We can only count ourselves fortunate that none of the criminals in the area—such as Tyrone Harris—ran into this group of Oath Keepers. Regardless of the facts, the story reported by the media would have been as Miguel predicted above, of a group of white militants invading and shooting up a disadvantaged minority neighborhood.
We know how the anti-gun progressives in the mainstream media want to portray gun owners. They are predictable to the point of being cliches.
It’s time we stop giving them rhetorical ammunition to use against us.
Oath Keepers, go home.