Over the weekend a group of armed extremists occupied a wildlife refuge in Oregon. This is the latest episode in a long simmering dispute between the Federal government and anti-government ranchers out West.
The group’s leaders have been quoted by The New York Times as being willing to “kill and be killed” over their dispute with the government. If history is any guide, this could get ugly.
To remind you, here are the top three armed stand-offs from similar groups in recent American history:
This was the big one. A 51-day siege against David Koresh and the Branch Davidian ranch ended in tragedy, with 50 adults and 25 children dead after an aggressive FBI siege. The siege started after concerns about child abuse and the stockpiling of firearms triggered an attempt to serve a search warrant by the ATF. After weeks of extensive negotiations, Koresh allowed the release of a number of children, but the vast majority of his followers remained and resisted the siege. Many questions were asked about the handling of the siege amid the mounting body count.
Ruby Ridge (1992)
A similarly controversial siege took place the year before, with deadly consequences, too. Under investigation for associating with anti-government groups Randy Weaver and his family barricaded himself in their Idaho compound after a shootout with US Marshalls, with deaths on both sides. The ensuing siege lasted 12 days, with Weaver and his associate eventually surrendering to authorities. Like Waco, there was serious fallout about the handling of this siege by authorities.
Montana Freemen (1994)
The Montana Freemen were a group of anti-government Christians who took the particularly extreme step of attempting to secede from the US. They created their own government and judicial system and banking system. After running afoul of federal financial crimes and attempting to buy million in illegal body armor, the group had their property foreclosed upon. A resulting armed standoff lasted an incredible 81 days, but thankfully, this one didn’t end in violence.
We hope the current standoff in Oregon ends peacefully, but any time there is an armed standoff there is a risk of things getting out of control.