Fearing for the Second Amendment, militia groups grow in number

Center for Public Integrity

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Fear of the federal government’s interference with Second Amendment rights and suspicion that elected officials are ignoring the “will of the people” have provoked a resurgence of self-described patriots across the country who say they are preparing to defend themselves and their rights by any means necessary.

Organizations tracking the movement say the number of groups has risen dramatically in the past six years.

“There’s a very unreasonable, ridiculously crazy attack on the Second Amendment and people that own guns,” said Cope Reynolds, a member of the White Mountain Militia in Show Low, Arizona. “If everything were not protected by the Second Amendment, the government would have the opportunity, if they so desired, to go unchecked with impunity and do whatever they want to do.”

Reynolds is the operations manager of Shots Ranch, a tactical shooting range and survival training facility in Kingman, Arizona. He considers this type of training to be necessary preparation for a time in America he sees as inevitable.

“We want people to be able to provide for themselves in a world where we might not be able to just run down to Wal-Mart at any time,” Reynolds said. “We think that at some point in America we’re probably going to experience those times and a lot of us think it’s not going to be far away.”

For individuals like Reynolds, the Second Amendment is an important check on the government and is needed to protect the Constitution.

“It’s the beauty and the danger of America’s Constitution,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Second Amendment expert. “Its great generalities are so vague that anyone can interpret them in light of their own experience and their own interests. And indeed, the Second Amendment is one of the most confusing textual provisions of the Constitution.”

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This story is part of Gun wars. The struggle over rights and regulation in America. Click here to read more stories in this investigation.

Copyright 2014 The Center for Public Integrity. This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.

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