Time reports that scores of armed anti-government groups have formed or been revived during the Obama years. Recruiting, planning, training and explicit calls for a shooting war are on the rise, as are criminal investigations by the FBI and state authorities. The radical right has raised the threat level against the president and other government targets. With violence already up on a modest scale, FBI, Department of Homeland Security and state agencies point to two main dangers of a mass-casualty attack: that a group of armed radicals will strike out in perceived self-defense, or that a lone wolf, indoctrinated for war, will grow tired of waiting.
Most of today’s armed radicals are linked by self-described Patriot beliefs, which emphasize resistance to tyranny by force of arms and reject the idea that elections can fix what ails the country. Among the most common convictions is that the Second Amendment – the right to keep and bear arms – is the Constitution’s cornerstone, because only a well-armed populace can enforce its rights. Any form of gun regulation is seen as a sure sign of intent to crush other freedoms. Some groups embrace the white-supremacist legacy of the Posse Comitatus, which invented the modern militia movement in the 1970s. Some are fueled by a violent stream of millennial Christianity.