Modern Day Range War: A Demand for Freedom

Cliven Bundy pledging allegiance to the America that the Constitution outlines

On the Nevada prairie, a power struggle between the federal government and the people has been instilled. Clark country cattle rancher, Cliven Bundy, began a grassroots movement fueled by what he views as an encroaching federal government. Compiling accurate information is near impossible with media sources’ motives inhibiting the truth, but the following story is consistent with multiple sites:


The Bundy family has resided on its land since 1877, raising a large herd of cattle ever since. In 1993, the federal government revoked the Bundy’s land permit in order to protect a threatened species of desert tortoises. The ranchers continued to keep their 900 cattle on lands they did not own, so the Bureau of Land Management began rounding up their cattle. Cliven Bundy has gone to the media to spread his story, and has received a lot of conservative support. After confiscating 400 cattle, the BLM returned the cows when Bundy and supporters showed up to take back Bundy’s property. This whole dispute occurred from a seemingly straightforward question – who owns the land that Cliven’s cows are on?


The BLM has been regulating grazing since 1946 due to previous degradation of the lands from overuse. From the BLM’s own website, they are defined as managing, not owning these lands – the lands are public and do not belong to anyone specifically.Permits and leases can be purchased to use the public lands, which the BLM oversees. When the desert tortoise crawled its way onto the endangered species list, a recovery plan was made to save the animal. Critical habitat areas were designated, including a 192,300-acre plot in the Gold Butte area where the Bundy’s reside. This area was deemed completely off-limits for grazing. Bundy’s critics claim he is a law-breaking, tax ignoring citizen because he will not pay dues to be on the land, but his cattle cannot remain on the land because, “BLM long ago revoked Bundy’s grazing rights on that land after citing concern for a federally protected tortoise”.

This issue is rooted much deeper that land ownership. The reason Cliven Bundy refuses to pay the federal government is because he believes the federal government does not own the land. Prior to the BLM’s overseeing on surrounding territory, the Bundy’s paid leasing fees to the state. When the tortoise became a dire concern, the federal government began demanding money from the ranchers who previously only paid to the state. In fact, the federal government oversees the land, as previously stated from their own website. Cliven Bundy is raising awareness for an issue he believes is of upmost importance: the increasing magnitude of the federal government over the state governments.

The opposition to the Bundy’s is missing the point; they think the ranchers want to use the land with no additional fees – Cliven is a “freeloader who is unwilling to follow the rules”. A neighbor farmer, Gardner, outlines Cliven’s stance by saying he “is taking a stand not only for family ranchers, but also for every freedom-loving American, for everyone… protecting the individual was a underlying factor of our government”.

Cliven Bundy is standing up for the country’s people. In early April his grassroots movement began at a “7-Eleven convenience store that attracted just a couple reporters from Las Vegas media”. His movement is now largely successful, gaining the attention of national news and riling the support of conservatives across the country. He has upheld the following statement:

“Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive,” the Declaration reads, “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” But it also chides the hotheaded among us, inviting us to remember that “prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes.”

The belief that federal government is growing too big has caused this man to challenge that government to gain precedent on the issue.

Although the presented information may have surprised you, the federal government’s actions are only more astounding. Liberal media has, expectedly, backed up the feds on this issue. Media sources have presented the violence and disobedience of the ranchers while completely ignoring the others side’s wrong doings. Federal agents, armed with police dogs, Tasers, and guns, were the only ones to use their weaponry. Cliven’s son was Tasered three times after running from a police dog, and government workers shot and killed two Bundy bulls and crushed a desert turtle den. The irony in killing animals when the whole issue was set into motion after trying to protect animals is astounding. Further harming the livestock, when confiscating the cattle, mothers and babies were purposefully separated by the government workers. After the weary and malnourished herd was returned, the mothers did not recognize their calves, leaving the 27 calves in need of bottle-feeding. Additionally, several cows have died from overexertion.

Now, those who support the state’s rights activists have been labeled “domestic terrorists” by Nevada Senator, Harry Reid. Cliven responded by saying that they are “citizens riled up” and “that he and his supporters were just gathering together to protest the government pulling guns on them”.

They can protest in another way, right? Wrong. The federal government has set up two “First Amendment areas” in the Nevada area. You probably thought the First Amendment applied to all of America, but the BLM has done something to change that. These bureaucrats – unelected officials – “said that all other areas in the 1,200-square-mile Gold Butte closure area were off-limits to people for stating their opinions”. The two zones were dismantled after the protesters ignoring the attempt at inhibiting their Constitutional rights. This is a direct violation of the First Amendment which states that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble”. These zones intentionally “abridged freedom of speech, the press, and the rights of the people to peaceably assemble”. The ranchers did not stand for the government’s disobedience of the Constitution, and they won.

“First Amendment Zone”. Other undefined zones in the area are off-limits for freedom of speech – a clear violation of Constitutional rights.

Frankly, I think this whole situation is a mess. Cliven has broken laws, but I support the cause for which he broke those laws. The federal government has evolved into a much larger system than, conservatives and I believe, the Founders intended. The BLM required Bundy to pay for his cattle to roam around public lands because a tortoise was incapable of coexisting with the other species? The threats on the tortoises are related to human disturbance such as industrial and residential development, not cows eating grass. Recent events have fully outlined the severe situation our country is in. Civen and supporters have tried to peacefully increase awareness of the issue when they were challenged by unelected government workers deciding where they had First Amendment rights. Then. the federal government inhumanely treats confiscated cattle in order to protect the tortoise. And finally, the protesters who did not fire a shot are labeled ‘terrorists’ while very few people acknowledge the armed government agents and their use of weaponry. I do not mean to completely dismiss the wrongs of the protesters; they, too, were armed and disobedient, but the less talked about facts raise a red flag about the state of “we the people” and state’s rights.


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