Politics

Montana GOP Lawmaker Wants To Create Official State Militia

In a nod to extremism, Montana state Rep. Wendy Warburton (R) is introducing a bill to bring the militia movement into the mainstream by creating what she dubs “home guards” to provide services in case major emergencies. Reflecting her belief that “Montana needs an armed paramilitary group of volunteers,” Warburton has introduced a bill that would create a militia force “to fill the gap between community service organizations” like a neighborhood watch programs and the National Guard “to provide the state and its local communities with the ability to call upon trained and organized volunteers” when necessary. Not only would the “home guard” be allowed to manage its own identity and its ranks, but the state will pay for the damage it causes:

The bill would allow the “home guard” organizations to be formed in companies each with their own uniforms, flags and identities. Its language also would allow them to form into “infantry companies.”[…]

The “home guard” would not be subject to federal oversight and a company would only be recognized if certified by the governor. Creating the paramilitary groups would cost the state about $45,000 per year for the first few years, and the state would be required to pay for damaged equipment used by the groups during active duty.

There’s no questioning what Warburton hopes to create. As the Huffington Post’s Nick Wing notes, Warburton originally called these groups “organized militias,” only later amending it to less fraught term “home guards.” And, as the state’s Human Right Network notes, there’s no question who will gravitate to these unregulatedgroups — “anti-government extremists.”

According to a Southern Poverty Law Center report, previously dwindling “Patriot” groups — “militias that see the federal government as part of a plot to impose ‘one-world government’ on liberty-loving Americans” — have come “roaring back” under Obama’s presidency. Since he took office, there has been a 250 percent rise in ‘patriot’ groups. Extremists have attended Obama speeches bearing arms and even murdered six law enforcement officers. And if the state taps anyone like Arizona militiaman and radical anti-immigrant activist Bill Davis to pick the militia’s ranks, these home guards will pass over gun-toting “wannabes” and “Rambos” in favor of actual combat veterans with “kill records.

Such anti-government extremists are gaining mainstream traction beyond Montana. Right-wing, extremist-friendly lawmakers in Arizona and Oklahoma have also considered creating official militia groups. And there are 512 Patriot groups across Texas, Michigan, California, Indiana, Oregon, New York, and Kentucky itching to gain similar inroads. As Montana gun-rights proponent Gary Marbut put it, these bills mark small steps to enfranchise anti-government thinking. “The question here is where that slider is located on that range between anarchy and tyranny,” Marbut said. “We’d like to nudge it back a little toward anarchy.”