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.
SPLC Report: Return of the Militias
They're back. Almost a decade after largely disappearing from public view, right-wing militias, ideologically driven tax defiers and sovereign citizens are appearing in large numbers around the country. "Paper terrorism" — the use of property liens and citizens' "courts" to harass enemies — is on the rise. And once-popular militia conspiracy theories are making the rounds again, this time accompanied by nativist theories about secret Mexican plans to "reconquer" the American Southwest. One law enforcement agency has found 50 new militia training groups — one of them made up of present and former police officers and soldiers. Authorities around the country are reporting a worrying uptick in Patriot activities and propaganda. "This is the most significant growth we've seen in 10 to 12 years," says one. "All it's lacking is a spark. I think it's only a matter of time before you see threats and violence."