The Burns, Oregon protesters need to declare victory and end their occupation of a remote federal building before they do irreparable harm to their cause.
This incident reminds me of events that transpired in Waco, Texas more than two decades ago when I was the state lobbyist for the National Rifle Association responsible for New Jersey among other states. We were engaged in hand to hand legislative combat with the Governor of the state over his passage of a ban on possession of many popular semi-automatic firearms. Eventually we lost due to the Senate Republican’s failure to honor their commitments, in spite of having flipped the Senate from a Democrat majority to a two-thirds Republican one.
But as deeply as I was cut due to the New Jersey Senate’s perfidy, it is my own failure during that time frame that I most regret. You see, the Branch Davidians were under siege in Waco, Texas by the federal government because they were suspected of weapons violations in an encounter that was escalated by the Feds at every turn.
As the NRA lobbyist with access to the New York City and Philadelphia television, radio and print markets, I desperately wanted Waco to go away as it made my job of restoring Second Amendment rights to the people of New Jersey more difficult. Rather than using this podium to point out the obvious escalation of the situation by the ATF and FBI, and urge for calmer heads to prevail, I remained quiet, and 76 people died.
It is with this background that I choose to speak out now regarding the Burns, Oregon situation.
The group occupying the small federal facility should walk out the door now. Not because eventually, the federal agents will kill them, which they will, but instead because they have won, and staying further will cause people to forget why they took a stand.
Right now, Congress can use this short, bloodless protest to expose the lawlessness of federal land agents and the hundred-year history of the federal government using its power to drive people off the land in this remote region of Oregon and elsewhere.
Right now, the story of the Hammond family can be told and the federal bureaucrats responsible can be brought to heel.
However, the tide will turn rapidly as the national media turns the occupiers into terrorists and those with political good sense will be unwilling to be associated with them in any way.
Today, right now, victory needs to be declared and the protest abandoned. Otherwise, bloodshed is the natural course of events, and the spilling of the protesters blood will be worse than unnecessary, it will do immeasurable harm to the cause of private property rights that they seek to uphold.
It is time for the Burns, Oregon protesters to walk out the door with their heads held high so the story of the federal government’s abuse of western land owners can be heard. After all, sometimes your cause is important enough that you have to be willing to live for it.