I Was a Militia Man for a Day
The arms-bearing Oath Keepers have vowed to protect America from the tyranny of the federal government. I crashed a field training to see what they’re really all about.
Photos by Julianne Parker
Lying belly down in the dirt, the butt of a Stag semi-automatic rifle squeezed against my shoulder, I’m taking aim at what is commonly known as a tree. But today it’s a bad guy — an MS-13 gangbanger or a cartel sniper or a hit man. I’m supposed to be the good guy. I’m just doing a terrible job at it.
“Keep your head down!” Stewart Rhodes reminds me. An Army veteran and Yale graduate, Rhodes is the president and founder of Oath Keepers, a national organization of current and former law enforcement and military officers committed to protecting the Constitution, particularly its Second Amendment, from government overreach.
While the group’s notoriety stems largely from its role in last April’s armed standoff at Cliven Bundy's ranch in Nevada, Rhodes insists today’s seven-hour field training isn’t about overthrowing a tyrannical government or gunning down heavy-handed police officers. His goal is to prepare ordinary civilians for the chaos and terror that could ensu…
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