The Oath Keepers, a group dedicated to fighting what it deems unconstitutional government powers, has decided to take a stand in the matter of school shootings, in particular those on college campuses. Their proposal, however, is aimed not at the perpetrators, but the victims. Declaring that students are “submitting and cooperating in their own murders,” the Oath Keepers intend to visit college campuses and teach students how to fight back against an armed assailant.
The Oath Keepers, who came to broad attention last year when they joined the armed standoff at Bundy Ranch, consider themselves protectors of the constitution.
“…a non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders, who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.'”
A part of this is fighting against laws, orders, and government actions they consider unconstitutional. However, rather than taking the fight through legal channels, the Oath Keepers turn to armed “defense” for causes they find worthy, such as protecting Cliven Bundy from facing forfeits for failing to pay grazing fees, and protecting Kim Davis from arrest for defying a court order. They’ve also stepped into other situations where they felt law enforcement wasn’t rigorously imposing order enough, such as below, when Oath Keepers appeared in Ferguson, Missouri, even placing a shooter on a roof during protests following Michael Brown’s death.
Though protecting students from armed assailants doesn’t exactly fall into the group’s stated goals, preventing gun control does. The Oath Keepers’ declaration of intent to enter college campuses and teach students to defend themselves appears to fall under this heading.
The Oath Keepers’ website announced the plan this week. They intend to start in Oregon and move forward from there.
Of course, they’re not the only people to center the discussion on Second Amendment rights — below is a photo from President Obama’s visit to Roseburg, Oregon, after the shooting, in which you can see a number of people with signs expressing an opinion on gun-free zones.
The Oath Keepers are not just declaring that they’ll arm students, though. “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” may be a popular response to gun control efforts, but it’s not (exactly) the direction the Oath Keepers are taking. In fact, they make it clear that they consider unarmed individuals complicit in their own deaths, for not fighting back with whatever was at hand, including their own bodies.
The announcement describes the actions of the students in the recent shooting at Umpqua Community College (emphasis added).
“were passive, submissive, and obeyed the commands of the shooter.”
“allowed themselves to be herded”
“complied with his commands”
“obediently remained on the floor”
The Oath Keepers actually follow this up with a “should have” — saying students “should have” rushed the attacker rather than complying. They declare that this is the fault of an America that has taught young people to avoid violence, and to be “passive and submissive,” explaining that this mindset is the most important thing to change in preventing further deaths in future mass shootings.
They plan to teach students to prevent their own murders by fighting back with guns, knives, pepper spray, improvised weapons, and their own bare hands.
If all of this sounds familiar, you won’t be surprised to learn that Oath Keepers founder, Stewart Rhodes, once taught rape prevention classes for women. Like most rape prevention efforts, this mass murder prevention plan places the responsibility not on the perpetrator, but the victims, and like rape apologists, the Oath Keepers aren’t shying away from statements that appear to place the blame on the victims of these shootings, as well.
“[S]tudents must stop submitting and cooperating in their own murders.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center includes the Oath Keepers’ founder in its Extremist Files, describing the group’s membership claims as “improbable” and their government-oriented fears as “entirely imaginary.”
A request for a statement from Umpqua Community College staff, regarding whether they have approved the Oath Keepers’ design to enter their campus and address their students, has not yet received a response
[Photo by: Scott Olson/Getty Images]