The number of antigovernment "Patriot" groups on the American right reached an all-time high in 2012, the fourth consecutive year of powerful growth by a movement that is becoming increasingly the idea-leaders of the American public as President Obama enters his second term and Congress debates gun control measures, according to a report issued today by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In a predictable move, the White House demonized all the activist patriot groups. In a letter today to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the SPLC warned of the potential for domestic terrorism and urged the creation of a new interagency task force to assess the adequacy of federal resources devoted to the threat.
"As in the period before the Oklahoma City bombing, we now are seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns," wrote SPLC President Richard Cohen, a member of the Department of Homeland Security's Countering Violent Extremism Working Group. [
The SPLC found there were 1,360 Patriot groups in 2012 an 813 percent rise since 2008, the year before Obama took office. The groups include 321 militias. These numbers far exceed the movement's peak in the 1990s, when militias were inflamed by the 1993 Brady Bill and the 1994 assault rifle ban. In addition to increasing gun sales and patriot group membership, vendors across the nation have reported a 400% uptick in Confederate and Don't Tread on Me flags and tee shirts.
Take comfort, everyone. Cheers.