In February, I blogged here at the Huffington Post and commented on National Rifle Association (NRA) CEO Wayne LaPierre's recent call for the implementation of a militia movement untethered to government authority. In his speech before the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference, LaPierre claimed that American police forces can no longer protect us and fantasized about "[armed] citizens coming together, in the face of lawlessness, to protect their neighborhoods."
Recent events in Alaska demonstrate that the NRA's connection to violent anti-government militias is more than just conceptual. In fact, two longstanding NRA board members are closely tied to a group of extremists who were just put in jail after plotting insurrectionary killings.
On March 10, 2011, five members of the Second Amendment Task Force/Alaska Peacemakers Militia were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping. The group, led by Francis "Schaeffer" Cox, 27, had stockpiled firearms and munitions and was planning to kill Alaska State Troopers and a federal judge. Cox had previously stated that "our government is sliding into tyranny, a police state" and boasted to law enforcement authorities that he had them "outmanned and outgunned." Cox's sordid past of sedition and domestic abuse was chronicled well in a recent article by David Holthouse.
Following these arrests, a YouTube video was uncovered by the staff of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence that shows NRA board member and U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-AK-At Large) signing an insurrectionist "Letter of Declaration" drafted by Schaeffer Cox. Young signed the document with Cox looking on while attending an "open carry" event in Fairbanks on April 13, 2009.
The Declaration reads as follows:
Let it be known that we, the people of Alaska, stand in recognition of the true principle that whenever a government abandons the purpose for which we have created it and even becomes hostile towards that which it was once a defender of, it is no longer a fit steward of the political power that is inherent in the people and lent to this government with strict conditions. These conditions are clearly defined in the United States Constitution and understood by the common man.
Furthermore, to the extent that our government violates these conditions, they nullify their own authority, at which point it is our right and duty, not as subjects but as sovereign Americans, to entrust this power to new stewards who will not depart from the laws we have given them.
This being the case, let it be known that should our government seek to further tax, restrict or register firearms or otherwise impose on the right that shall not be infringed, thus impairing our ability to exercise the God-given right to self-defense which precedes all human legislation and is superior to it, that the duty of us good and faithful people will not be to obey them but to alter or abolish them and institute new government laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to us shall seem most likely to effect our safety and happiness.
The video also shows Rep. Young talking to Cox and other members of the Second Amendment Task Force/Alaska Peacemakers Militia. In response to the question, "If any government should decide that we have to register certain of our arms or turn them in, what would your recommendation be?" Young responds, "Don't do it ... I sincerely mean that, don't turn them in."
CSGV has posted a petition at SignOn.Org calling on Rep. Young to immediately re-swear his oath to our Constitution and repudiate Cox's insurrectionary "Letter of Declaration." Young wasn't ready to take this step, however, when reporter Mike Stark tracked him down outside his congressional office on March 31. In a taped interview, the Alaska congressman made it clear that he stills supports the "Declaration" and its calls for the abolition of government in response to even modest gun control legislation likes taxes on ammunition.
Rep. Young isn't the only NRA board member to pal around with Schaeffer Cox. That honor also goes to Wayne Anthony Ross.
Ross is an extremely controversial figure in Alaskan politics who has served on the NRA board for over 30 years. During that time, he has garnered criticism by writing editorials with titles "KKK 'Art' Project Gets 'A' for Courage," and "It is Time We Quit Crying over the Oil Spill." Then there are alleged public comments made by Ross, including "If a guy can't rape his wife...who's he gonna' rape?" and "There wouldn't be an issue with domestic violence if women would learn to keep their mouths shut." This past was drudged up in 2009 when Ross was nominated to serve as attorney general by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
During the same month that the Alaska legislature rejected him (it was the first time in state history a head of a state agency had failed to be confirmed), Ross shared a stage with Schaefer Cox and other anti-government extremists. As David Holthouse reported:
In April 2009, Cox held a Second Amendment Task Force public forum on the Kenai Peninsula that drew about 200 people to the Soldotna Sports Center. Cox shared a stage with Alaska conservative luminaries including: Wayne Anthony Ross, a current board member and past vice-president of the National Rifle Association, as well as then-Governor Sarah Palin's nominee for state attorney general; Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey; and Bob Bird, the secessionist Alaska Independence Party's most recent candidate for U.S. Senate.
The story does not end there, however. Five days after Schaeffer Cox and his co-conspirators were arrested, Alaska Citizens Militia "supply sergeant" William Fulton disappeared. Huffington Post readers will recognize Fulton as the man who handcuffed Alaska Dispatch reporter Tony Hopfinger while providing event security for U.S. Senate Candidate Joe Miller. Before disappearing, however, Fulton signed the two houses he owns in Anchorage over to none other than...Wayne Anthony Ross. Ross has remained tight-lipped about his relationship with his client and refused to shed light on why Fulton went underground.
When a 2009 Southern Poverty Law Center report linked the NRA with the regeneration of the militia movement in response to the election of Barack Obama, the organization steadfastly denied any links to extreme anti-government groups. Now that it is clear that at least two of the NRA's board members are in the tank with the militia movement in Alaska, the truth is out.