Of all of the ideas to protect the nation's school in the face of gun violence, using a far-right militia group as guards has to be one of the dumbest yet.
The Oath Keepers is “one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the U.S. today,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. It claims to be nonpartisan, pledging to defend the Constitution at all costs. Thousands of former and current police officers are listed as its members, all of whom strongly oppose orders to disarm the American people.
The anti-government group is strongly recommending their members post themselves outside of schools to provide protection.
In the wake of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, one of the members of the group, Mark Cowan, stationed himself outside of a Fort Wayne high school in Indiana. He kept a watch around while brandishing a handgun and AR-15.
A seminar took place over the internet this Monday, where the members of the Oath Keepers discussed this self-appointed form of protection they want to opt for, since they believe federal agencies are inadequate.
The webinar was called “The Florida School Shooting and How to Counter Renewed Efforts to Disarm Us.” The event mainly constituted discussions on infringements being imposed on them to bear arms and how they cannot let schools turn into killing zones under their nose.
Members will be urged to “standby for a formal call to action for all Oath Keepers across the nation" to stand armed outside schools, as Cowan did in Indiana.
The group also slammed politicians pushing for gun control, which according to the Oath Keepers is a violation of their Second Amendment rights, which will cause “repeated murder of children and raping of the Bill of Rights.”
Bryan Humes, a leader in the Oath Keepers chapter in Indiana, gave a vague count of the number of Oath keepers stationed outside the local schools.
“We’re just hoping that we can be a little added security. If the schools already have a resource officer, then the local sheriff, city and state police have another set of eyes and ears keeping an eye on things,” he further said.
There seems to be some conflict of opinion among the Oath Keepers, however, as the head of the New York chapter, Dan Devlin, didn’t seem too fond of Humes’ strategy. In fact, he said that he will not be calling on members of his chapter to spend their time guarding schools.
“There’s some discussion about whether or not that’s a good idea. Not all Oath Keepers are bound to do the same thing. I know that people’s intentions are good, but some of us are ex- or retired policeman and military people and sometimes you have to work with the police agencies. If they want you there, that’s one thing, but sometimes it’s a case of, they already have it covered,” Devlin said.
Krista Stockman, spokeswoman for Fort Wayne Community Schools in Indiana, said the district doesn't want the militia group near schools, and that having an Oath Keeper outside doesn’t add to students' safety.
“At all of our schools, we have security procedures in place, including armed police officers at most buildings. We do not endorse this kind of activity.” Stockman explained.
She further pointed out that having an armed paramilitary in the vicinity of schools is not sitting well with some parents too, as they got a complaint a week earlier from a parent about an Oath Keeper standing outside the school.
Mark Pitcavage, senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League, told HuffPost.
“None of these kids need those armed paramilitaries in front of their high schools or middle schools or what have you. That in itself is simply going to make the kids fearful,” he said.
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