The armed militia originally took control of the federal property in protest of the 5-year sentences of two ranchers charged with the crime of burning federal property. At first, the two men were to be sentenced to the 5-year minimum for their crimes, but the judge decided that would be too harsh a sentence. He instead sentenced one man to three months and the other to one year in federal prison. However, the federal government appealed to elongate the sentences to the minimum of 5 years, eventually winning.
Outraged by the treatment of these men, Nevada rancher Ammon Bundy began protesting online, ultimately going to the ironically-named city of Burns to assemble even more supporters.
However, the militia’s protest extends to a more broad issue. The federal government currently owns a majority of land in western states such as Nevada and Oregon, which presents numerous problems to ranchers, who require large amounts of land. For example, ranchers must pay grazing fees in order to use federally-owned land to raise cattle.
Bundy’s father has previously spoken out against governmental control over these land. Ammon Bundy’s militia now demands that western land be given back to local communities.
Incidentally, one of the people arrested on Tuesday was Ammon Bundy, the leader of the protest. While the protests continue, it is questionable that the protest may endure for much longer. Without a leader, and with one member killed, the future of the protest is left to be decided.
My questions for you are as follows:
Does Bundy raise a valid question? Should the federal government relinquish land to local communities?
Did Bundy and his supporters act reasonably by taking the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, or was this too extreme?
Taking into account that an armed militia was involved, should weapons be used in any form of protest? Does the use of weapons help or hurt the cause? How should authorities deal with protests involving weapons?