Week of December 20, 2019

Impeaching Trump Threatens Widespread Civil Unrest

The battle for the impeachment, conviction, and removal of Trump from office isn’t only in the Congress.  As the House votes for impeachment, the battle lines are being drawn across the US and the potential for violence is growing.

On Tuesday night, tens of thousands of anti-Trump protestors came together across the nation to push for Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives.

Groups opposing to Trump had organized more than 600 events ranging from Florida to Alaska.  However, for all the passion, the gatherings were smaller than other mass protests, possibly due to the last-minute nature of the events.

But this isn’t the only side preparing for mass demonstrations in the streets of the nation.

300,000 motorcycle enthusiasts called “Rolling Thunder” have made it clear that they will roll into Washington DC to save Trump if the Senate trial looks bad for the president.

Dale Herndon, National Director of Bikers for Trump said, “We will ride, if and when the president looks as if he is in danger with some senators flipping,” specifically centrist Republicans, which he calls RINOs (Republicans in Name only).

The group has a sign-up page on Facebook, which has 300,000 members.

The threat of civil unrest isn’t limited to pro-Trump bikers.  In an interview with Fox News, Pastor Robert Jeffress said removing Trump from office would cause a civil war fracture in the US that would never heal.

Oath Keepers, considered a militia group by some was also using the words “civil war.”  Stewart Rhodes, head of Oath Keepers tweeted, “we are on the verge of a hot civil war.”  The twitter account also noted, “the militia (that’s us) can be called forth to execute the laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections, and repel Invasions.”

Representative Louie Gohmert (R. Texas) said a few weeks ago that the Democratic push for impeachment is “about to push this country to a civil war.”  Gohmert spoke right after the vote on the impeachment rules.

“And, if there is one thing I don’t want to see in my lifetime, Gohmert said, “I don’t want to ever have participation in a civil war.  Some historian, I don’t remember who, said guns are only involved in the last phase of a civil war.”

Firearms are a key issue in this debate.  One pro-Trump supporter at a Trump rally in Hersey, PA told CBS News “my .357 Magnum (a heavy caliber revolver) is comfortable with that.  End of story.”

Another person at the same rally said,” There’ll be a lot of mad Americans, possibly 70 to 80 million Americans on the loose – not very happy.”

Since the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reported last week that Americans own 423 million firearms (about 1.2 per American) and billions of rounds of ammunition, this is a serious threat.  17.7 million of them are modern “assault rifles” like the AR-15 and AK-47 (half of all guns produced in 2017 where these type of firearms).

Given the large number of gun owners in the US and the possibility of civil unrest, any attempt to curb gun ownership is seen as a threat.

In the state of Kentucky, which has a Democratic governor who wants to restrict gun ownership, Harlan County leaders voted to protect gun owners from any attempt by the state or federal government to confiscate firearms.  The measure passed unanimously this week.

Other Kentucky counties are also looking at passing similar laws.

There are also similar anti-gun laws in place in the states of Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and New Mexico.  In the State of Washington, there is a petition being circulated that calls for the impeachment of the Governor and Attorney General of the state due to their efforts to restrict firearms.

However, if there is an epicenter for this firearm “pushback,” it is Virginia, which elected a pro-gun control governor and legislature.  They are looking at passing laws restricting the training of people in firearms usage, gun registration, and making many semi-automatic firearms illegal.  This has outraged the majority of the state.

As of this week, 95 counties, cities, or municipalities have passed resolutions to protect what they believe to be Americans constitutional right to own firearms.  90% of the Virginia counties have joined in.  Other locations are still debating their stances.

This isn’t limited to words.  Tazwell County in Southwest Virginia passed a Second Amendment resolution, but they have also officially begun to form a militia.  The vote was unanimous and received a cheer from the crowd.

County Administrator Eric Young explained that the Virginia Constitution reserves the right to “order” militias to the localities.  Therefore, counties, not the state determine the type of arms that may be carried and by whom.  “So we are ordering the militia by making sure everyone can own a weapon.”

He continued, “Thus, if anyone from the state tries to remove the Sheriff from their elected office because they refuse to enforce unjust laws, those state officials will be faced with a lawful militia composed of citizens of the state.”

There will be training in the county for citizens to make sure everyone is acting safely and responsibility.  However, some of the proposed state legislation will prohibit any paramilitary training.

Of course, pro-firearm laws by localities have upset many at the state and federal level.  State Representative Donald MacEachin said that the governor could call up the National Guard to squelch the rebellion.

MacEachin said, “The governor may have to nationalize the National Guard to enforce the law…That’s his call because I don’t know how serious these counties are and how severe the violations of the law will be.  But that’s obviously an option he has.”

When questioned, the Adjutant of the Virginia National Guard, Major General Timothy Williams, responded vaguely in Twitter, “We will not speculate about the possible use of the Virginia National Guard.”

The events in Virginia aren’t isolated.  Social media and many on the internet have called for support of Virginia gun owners, including travelling to Virginia to help protest.  Undoubtedly some private militias from neighboring states have plans if the situation becomes more serious.

A possible flashpoint is January 20th, which the Virginia Citizens Defense League’s Lobby Day, where gun owners will descend on the capital Richmond to lobby against the proposed legislation.  The league, however, has asked militias to stay away and for anyone attending to follow all laws pertaining to carrying a firearm.

What’s Next?

Although it is impossible to predict a flashpoint, the circumstances are creating several possibilities for a civil war.  Not only have many, including national political leaders, predicted it, several states like Virginia, have pushed confrontation to the limit.

A good example is the unplanned flashpoint for the American Revolutionary War.  Although British troops and American militias had had standoffs that ended peacefully before April 19, 1775, it was the event at Lexington Massachusetts that started the war.  It was a British officer, who had orders to go to Concord to capture a militia arsenal, who left the road to challenge an American militia unit on the Lexington Commons.  The rest, as they say, is history.

The state of Virginia and most Virginia localities are headed for a confrontation.  This confrontation, although about firearm ownership, is also made more volatile by the Trump Impeachment.  No one will admit it, but the fact that there is talk about a civil war means that both sides see firearm ownership as critical in any conflict.

Trump supporters see the threat of a coup to remove a duly elected president and the abrogation of the Second Amendment, which guarantees the ownership of guns.  Democrats see a well-armed America upset with the outcome of the Trump impeachment taking up arms.

While it is easy to see any conflict as being short due to the presence of large, well-armed American military, there are two facts to remember.  First, Americans own over 400 million firearms and billions of rounds of ammunition.  There is no way that all of them can be found and confiscated.

Second, a large military doesn’t always guarantee success.  Just ask the Russians and Americans about Afghanistan.