The gun control debate after the Connecticut school shooting, and President Obama’s re-election, have helped lead to surging numbers of anti-government “patriot” groups, says a civil rights organization that tracks them, the Associated Press reports. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported the rising numbers in its annual report on extremist groups.
The number of anti-government patriot groups, one category tracked by the center, rose dramatically over the past four years, from 149 groups in 2008 to 1,360 today reported. That was up about 7 percent from the 1,274 active in 2011. “The anger, angst, frustration, fear surrounding the economy have very much poured fuel on this fire,” said the center’s Mark Potok. The gun debate after the Newtown, Ct., mass murder of schoolchildren has led to “a kind of white-hot rage unleashed on both the radical right and also within more mainstream political circles,” he said.