As national intelligence reports and indictments show a dangerous increase in right-wing militia activity, gun rights activist turned Republican congressional candidate Lauren Boebert is embracing elements of the militia movement, going so far as to ask militia members to provide security for her campaign events.
According to a screenshot provided by a source, a member of the III% United Patriots militia posted a call on for volunteers to attend Boebert’s appearance in Pueblo today. The request noted that the campaign invited the militia directly.
Monday at 1pm, Lauren Boebert is gonna be in Pueblo. Some of us have been asked to run a small perimeter security detail for her. The event that raises more concern for her and myself is the flag waving that starts at 5:30pm Monday. There is a couple of events that are happening before that, one of which isn’t open to the public. I wasn’t going to go unless they invited us, which they did.
The Southern Poverty Law Center lists III% United Patriots as one of several anti-government extremist militia groups active in Colorado. Boebert has been participating in events with militia members providing security for months now.
Last December, the day after announcing her candidacy, Boebert attended a “We Shall Not Comply” rally at the Colorado Capitol, organized to reject Colorado’s red flag law, which allows law enforcement officials to take guns from people deemed dangerous by a judge.
Following the rally, she posed for pictures with members of the American Patriots III% militia, also called “Three Percenters,” which said it was there to provide security.
The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Colorado APIII% militia as an anti-government extremist group, noting that “generally, such groups define themselves as opposed to the “New World Order,” [and] engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing.” In a report published in June titled “The Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States,” the Center for Strategic & International Studies describes Three Percenters as “a far-right paramilitary group that advocates gun rights and seeks to limit U.S. government authorities.”
In a June 14 tweet, Boebert proclaimed simply, “I am the militia.”
Boebert’s campaign website features a professionally staged photo of her with the Colorado “Boots on the Ground” Bikers for Trump group, which endorsed her. The photo includes at least one man wearing a “Three Percenter” patch and who also appeared in the photo of APIII% militia members.
Bikers for Trump also provided support and “security” for Boebert last year when she used her diner as a location for signing the failed recall petition targeting Governor Jared Polis.
In January of this year, Boebert traveled to a similar rally in opposition to gun safety legislation in Virginia. The event, which took place on Martin Luther King Day, grew to be a national gathering of militias, including some white supremacist groups that participated in the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally Charlottesville. Intelligence about credible threats led Governor Northam to declare a state of emergency.
In an interview with Brietbart outside the Virginia Capitol, Boebert rejected the argument that gun laws save lives.
“Have they saved lives? No. Criminals, by definition, break the law,” Boebert told Breitbart. “We already have gun laws in place. All you’re doing is restricting law-abiding citizens from defending their lives.”
More recently Boebert voiced support for the rights of militia members to shut down the Michigan Capitol, telling RealVail.com’s David O. Williams that while she wouldn’t participate in such an activity herself, she didn’t understand why the heavily armed men weren’t allowed on to the floor of the legislature. She reiterated her interpretation of the Second Amendment, saying:
“It is a protection against a tyrannical government, and so I don’t see that we would ever have to use our Second Amendment rights against our government, but that is what it’s for. It’s not for hunting. It’s not for target shooting or for sport.”
Experts can debate the nuances of the Second Amendment’s meaning, but using the threat of force to prevent legislators or the executive branch from conducting its business, such as occurred in Michigan, is not a common understanding of its purpose.
Boebert ran into her own legal troubles in late May, when she opened her restaurant in defiance of a Garfield County public health order issued to protect Coloradans from COVID-19. After the health department suspended Shooters Grill’s food service license, she held a “freedom rally” on May 23. Attendees included Bikers for Trump and at least two heavily armed men in military gear, whom Boebert posed with in front of the restaurant. Both men wore soldiers’ plate carriers and carried AR-15 style assault rifles equipped with suppressors.
Suppressors, or silencers, exist in legal gray area in Colorado. They are listed among the state’s illegal dangerous weapons, but a permitting loophole essentially prevents any enforcement of that law. They must be also be registered with the federal government.
Over the past year, Colorado has seen a variety of anti-government activism, much of it also pushing a pro-gun message, in response to the legislature passing a bipartisan “red flag” extreme risk protection order and Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) issuance of statewide public health orders related to COVID-19.
The same “We Shall Not Comply” message has proved equally popular to rally conservative opposition to both policies. With it inevitably comes references to tyranny and revolution which makes for effective political rhetoric, but also concerning activity when paired with deadly weapons.
A voicemail request for comment left with the Boebert campaign was not immediately returned. This article will be updated with any response received.