Some 100 new militia groups have formed since the election of President Barack Obama, says the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In a re-run of the phenomenon seen when President Bill Clinton took office, gun-rights advocates, libertarians, survivalists and others are forming militias as a symbol of their resistance to what they see as an administration that threatens to restrict their right to bear arms and expand government control over the lives of private citizens.
“The truth is that these groups are popping up like mushrooms after a spring rain,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a social-justice group that has been tracking the rise of militias over the past year.
Potok’s group put out a report earlier this year raising the alarm about the resurgence of armed militias. Since then, he told CNN, the group has counted about 100 new groups formed across the country.
“There really is this terrible fear mixed with fury about the idea that President Obama is somehow leading a socialistic takeover of America,” Potok said.
A CNN news crew that visited the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia found a group that sees itself as a “deterrent” to any attempts to restrict gun use, and otherwise sees itself as a place to learn survival skills.
“Just the simple fact that we are out here and we are doing this, will give somebody pause, will make them think twice,” said militia member Michael Lackomar, who added that he thought Obama “could be dangerous for the nation.”
“Anytime we get a Democratic president in the office, people become concerned, including myself, and we get a resurgence out here,” said one militia member, identified only as Brian.
But CNN’s Jim Acosta points out that gun control “is unrealistic in many ways, because the Obama administration and the Democrats know that it would be political suicide for them to go after gun control measures. Even the attorney general has indicated he won’t go back to the assault weapons ban enacted in the Clinton administration.”
In its report from August, the Southern Poverty Law Center pointed out that the most recent wave of militia groups differs slightly from the wave seen under President Clinton in one respect.
“A key difference this time is that the federal government — the entity that almost the entire radical right views as its primary enemy — is headed by a black man,” the report states. “That, coupled with high levels of non-white immigration and a decline in the percentage of whites overall in America, has helped to racialize the Patriot movement, which in the past was not primarily motivated by race hate.”
This video is from CNN’s American Morning, broadcast Nov. 16, 2009.