"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
Willson, the CEO of the data analytics startup that I work for, has always shared with us intriguing news about the United States. Just today, he told me something that I thought was incredible. A group of Americans, particularly the pro-guns but also including local government in the state of Nevada, rallied and was, unsurprisingly, well-armed when federal government agency staff tried to fence off cattle that have been grazing on federally owned territory. The owner of the cattle, Cliven Bundy, has been extremely vocal in his opposition of the duties required for his use of federal land and has since chalked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in overdue taxes to the federal government. Stating the obvious, the agency in charge, the Bureau of Land Management, decided to back down due to concerns regarding "the safety of their staff" and are mulling over their next move.
Bundy's supporters claim that their original grazing privileges were forcefully sold to environmental agencies seeking to restore the natural habitat of the grazing areas. In the period around 1989-1993, the desert tortoise's conservation status was increased to "threatened" and since then environmental activists and government agencies have been restricting and imposing taxes on Bundy and other users of federal land.
Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, has the honour of being Captain Obvious. He commented on the Cliven Bundy standoff, "It's not over. We can't have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it's not over." Well said but unfortunately nothing. Or rather can anything be conceivably done with the standoff that is happening? The reputation of the federal government has not really been terrific, considering the recent well-publicised failures of healthcare.gov.
In reality, I suspect that time will exhaust the stamina of those gathered on Bundy's ranch, resulting in dwindling numbers and eventually Bundy might compromise. But this incident remains significant in highlighting the (interesting but) chaotic complexities that surround and underlie American politics.
To read more: Time Magazine's article, Fox News videos, CBS News article