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The Gundamentalists Rally, Rant and Threaten: Why Do Mainstream Republicans Support Their Views?

Fibonacci Blue: Second Amendment Rally Against Gun Control St. Paul, Minnesota (Creative Commons)

It’s hard to be a gundamentalist. There is just no one as oppressed as the white male gun owner today.

That seemed to be the message from the spate of sparsely attended gun rallies across the state in recent weeks, as speakers at the events, when not advocating personal ownership of tanks, seem to spend most of their time wailing and gnashing their teeth about those mean teenagers from Parkland and the liberal media conspiring to destroy their freedom.

In Kalispell, the rally started off on a surprisingly positive note, with an actual call for dialogue from one of the speakers, a high school sophomore. From the Independent Record:

There is a huge divide between the right and the left in our country. It comes to the point where we just don’t listen to each other, and instead we yell and insult each other, and at the end of it we get nothing done.”

From there, it became a more predictable march of the Brownshirts. Heeding the call to listen to each other, no doubt, the next speaker called those who have a difference of opinion on guns traitors:

The liberals, the Democrats, the traitors, whatever you want to call them, they seek to not only infringe on the people’s right to bear arms, many of them now want to simply strip that right away from people.

Legislative candidate and supremely reasonable Joey Chester cried about the media’s bias, apparently not noting that nearly every major Montana media outlet was there for a rally than barely cracked triple digits.

This is perhaps the real challenge of covering the gundamentalists. They whine and wail if they don’t get coverage and they whine and wail if the coverage actually exposes their extremist views.

And those views are extremist. Both the rallies in Kalispell and Billings, and probably others, were attended and organized in part by groups who are not merely pro-gun, but who are actively engaged in the militia movement. Writing before the Kalispell event, MPR’s Nicky Ouellet noted that the Billings rally was organized by the Montana Minute Men, a part of the Three Percenter movement. She also observed their hats in the Kalispell crowd, too.

The Three Percenters are an extremist paramilitary group that is linked to the Oath Keeper movement. Their leadership has repeatedly called for violence and its members attend almost every Patriot standoff in the country, ready to battle federal agents with their dubious grasp of history and personal arsenals.

After the Newtown school shooting, their leader threatened to “initiate hostilities” with the state of Connecticut if it tried to enforce new gun laws passed in the wake of the tragedy.

That threat, laughable as the idea of the pretend soldiers of the patriot movement actually doing something might sound, isn’t far-fetched. A former leader of the Three Percenter movement left the group because its rhetoric was going to lead to bloodshed:

His departure from the III Percent stage comes just days after another high-profile leader, Kit Perez, of Washington State, announced her departure after 12 years of activism in the movement.

“This 3% thing will result in deaths if it follows itself to conclusion,” Perez posted on the Patrick Henry Society blog, quoting another blog post written by another movement follower who calls himself “sparks31.”

“By adopting that particular term (III Percent), you are implying that you will fight a standing, legally-elected government should it (continue to) engage in certain actions you find objectionable,” the posting said.

Ultimately, all of that does find me agreeing with those speaking at the gun rally on one point: the media does need to do a more thorough job covering their rallies, not because the people there represent a significant movement, but because many of those who attend and organize these events are linked to dangerous anti-government organizations.

A few excellent opening questions might be to ask Senate candidate Al Olszewski (who was endorsed by the leaders of the Kalispell rally) if he supports the Three Percent movement or Senate candidate Matt Rosendale why he not only attended but spoke at an Oath Keepers rally in Kalispell a few years ago.

Surely, such strong supporters of the Second Amendment would be eager to explain their views, right?

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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