At a rally in Salem, Oregon, Saturday in protest of a new state law requiring background checks on private gun sales, anti-government militia groups promised to defy the law and warned that it could lead to civil war.
The rally was attended by at least one Republican state legislator.
In a rambling speech, Mike Vanderboegh of the “Patriot” movement group Three Percenters repeated many of the warnings he made last year at the Bundy ranch, reading from a letter he sent to Oregon lawmakers warning that the background check law would eventually lead to gun owners being killed by “state police,” which he said would then compel them to “return the favor.” In the letter, Vanderboegh also threatened to publish the home addresses of legislators who voted in favor of the law, as he once did with a gun law in Connecticut.
“There is no unconstitutional law that can be passed that cannot be defied, resisted, evaded, smuggled in violation of and completely nullified by armed civil disobedience,” he told the crowd.
Waving a copy of a “fiscal impact report” on the Oregon law, he demanded, “What do you think the ‘fiscal impact’ of civil war is? Because when you send the raid parties to the doors of our homes, when you begin killing those of us who resist your raw appetite for power, that is what you’re going to get: civil war. And if it comes to our doors, what makes it think it won’t come to theirs?”
“If they ironically insist on civil war as the proper panacea for ‘gun violence,’” he warned, “then regardless of how reluctant we are, they will be shown after they kill the first of us what gun violence really is, as the founders showed King George.”
Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, also spoke at the rally, boasting that his group recently completed a “security operation” at an Oregon gold mine that had a dispute with the Bureau of Land Management.
He told the crowd that they should start forming armed teams with likeminded citizens to fight threats ranging from drug cartels to government forces, a variation on the far-right Posse Comitatus theory: “Whether it’s the cartels or MS13 or the secret police, it takes a team to fight back.”
Noting that members of the Oath Keepers had come from across the country to resist the BLM at the Oregon mine, Rhodes warned that “there is a storm coming in this country” and “when it hits” people wouldn’t be able to drive across the country to “defend” others.
“No one is a passenger on the good ship liberty,” he said. “Everyone’s crew, everybody rows!”