There are plenty of second-hand accounts of armed militiamen patrolling the Bunkerville-Mesquite area of northeastern Clark County. According to these stories, the men are limiting the movements of regular folks who just want to get on with life after last month’s high-profile confrontation between the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and rancher Cliven Bundy.
Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., has called on state and local officials to remove Mr. Bundy’s supporters, who clearly make a number of area residents uncomfortable. At the height of the Bundy-BLM dispute, armed civilians were everywhere, and there were reports of threatening and intimidating behavior toward civilians, to say nothing of federal employees.
But Rep. Horsford hasn’t seen any militia members out in public. Review-Journal journalists haven’t seen them manning checkpoints along rural roads. And surely, if armed outsiders were restricting the rights of residents, the Mesquite Local News would have the story. But there is no story.
The truth is probably less dramatic. It’s not hard to imagine some of Mr. Bundy’s supporters overreaching and playing soldier despite the absence of any threat — or any authority, for that matter. But the narrative that Bundy allies are behaving like some sort of cartel in the Mesquite area is an exaggeration. Certainly, anyone behaving in such a way should be arrested by Mesquite police, the Metropolitan Police Department or the Nevada Highway Patrol.
Rep. Horsford is responding to constituent concerns. Good for him. But Mr. Bundy’s supporters have every right to assemble. If they’re breaking the law, by all means cite them. But rounding them up simply because their anti-government politics offend some Nevadans isn’t an option. Until they exhibit criminal behavior, they have as much right to remain in Nevada as anyone else.