Guns

Rep. Chris Stewart Wants To Disarm Federal Agents After Bundy Incident

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, plans to propose a measure to cut funding to armed personnel working for the Bureau of Land Management, the Internal Revenue Service and other federal regulatory agencies in the wake of armed federal agents surrounding Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch.

“There are lots of people who are really concerned when the BLM shows up with its own SWAT team,” Stewart told the Salt Lake Tribune. “They’re regulatory agencies. They’re not paramilitary units, and I think that concerns a lot of us.”

Stewart says his amendment to an appropriations bill would end the federal practice of arming special units but did not specify which agencies would be disarmed. He has been criticized by Latinos in Utah for his anti-immigration stance.

A spokeswoman for the Interior Department, Jessica Kershaw, told The Tribune that law enforcement personnel from BLM and the National Park Service were present at Bundy’s ranch to protect their employees and the public. She noted that BLM doesn’t have SWAT or tactical teams.

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"Partnerships and coordination with local law enforcement are a key part of the equation," Kershaw said, "not just because it’s good government, but because of the need to leverage limited resources."

“They should do what anyone else would do,” the freshman lawmaker told the Salt Lake Tribune. “Call the local sheriff, who has the capability to intervene in situations like that.”

Armed militia, who came to Bundy’s aid in Nevada, continue to patrol Clark County, Nev., stopping residents and forcing them to show ID proving they live in the area before they can pass.

Bundy racked up $1 million in fines and fees for failing to pay for his cattle to graze on public land.

Sources: Washington Times, Salt Lake Tribune