State Libertarian leaders Sunday demonstrated at the Waco Convention Center, calling for the abolition of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
About 40 demonstrators, almost all from outside Waco, said the bureau should be abolished. They accused the bureau of impinging upon Americans’ right to carry arms and to worship as they please.
John Anderson of Hillsboro had this explanation for why more people from the Waco area did not show up for the demonstration:
“People are afraid to show their faces because some day they may have their home called a compound,” Anderson said.
“Freedom of religion is for all beliefs,” said Gary Johnson, spokesman for the Libertarian Party of Texas. “A cult, whatever that is, is no exception. And the right to bear arms is not for hunting or for shooting burglars or rapists. It is the last result for resisting tyranny.”
In the wake of the Mount Carmel siege, the national Libertarian Party last week renewed its longstanding call for the abolition of the ATF. Libertarians held a protest Thursday in front of the ATF building in Dallas.
Honey Dodge was one of a small group of protestors who demonstrated in Dallas, and again Waco on Sunday. She thinks the ATF has run “totally amok.”
Dodge said the ATF is conducting a campaign of “minority cleaning.”
“They pick on people who are not easy to defend,” she said. “These people are not necessarily my favorite kind of people, but this is where they’ll start.”
Norman Berls, a computer programmer, drove up from Austin to be a part of Sunday’s demonstration. He carried a sign that read, “Please: No more macho cops.”
“Any time you have a group of people stockpiling arms and ammunition, that tells you something very important about those people,” Berls said. “It says that they’re afraid of something. And if you’re going to deal with those people and if you’re going to try to get them to cooperate for some purpose, the one thing that you don’t want to do is to try and go in there and frighten them more. It just makes matters worse.”
Berls thinks he knows what strategy would have succeeded in prying leader Vernon Howell out of the compound:
“If ATF had instead gotten one small, very petite woman to up there dressed like Shirley Temple and knock on the door and just say, ‘Hey: Can we talk?’ all of this would not have happened.”
Protesters also carried signs that read, “Is your church ATF approved?” “Live and let live, anyone?” “Is your church next?” and “ATF ignores Constitution.”