About Us

"It is now for them to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an election can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets; and that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided, there can be no successful appeal back to bullets..."

– Abraham Lincoln

Ballots Not Bullets

THE BALLOTS NOT BULLETS COALITION is a group of organizations that are concerned by the increasing use of violence—and threats of violence—to affect public policy in the United States. The danger posed by this type of behavior was perhaps most dramatically highlighted by the armed standoff that took place in Bunkerville, Nevada in April 2014 between law enforcement agents and armed followers of rancher Cliven Bundy. By pointing loaded guns at law enforcement, Bundy and his so-called “militia” were able to flout the law and remove the rancher from his legal duty to pay fees owed to the federal government (for the use of public lands owned by the American people). This set a dangerous precedent; one that has yet to be rectified by appropriate government action.

THE RULE OF LAW IS ENSHRINED IN OUR U.S. CONSTITUTION, which provides numerous, peaceful methods for citizens to redress grievances they have with our government. This democratic system of government helps to secure the individual rights of all citizens. The use of political violence degrades political equality under the Constitution by taking decision-making out of the hands of the people and putting it in those of mobs, or individual vigilantes. This type of armed anarchy, which our Founders openly decried, is one of the greatest threats to individual liberty.

Statement of Principles


We reject the argument that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to shoot and kill elected officials, law enforcement officials, military service members, or other agents of the government when one personally concludes that our government is behaving in a "tyrannical" manner. This perverted idea is totally out of step with the view of our Founders, who made it clear that the purpose of the Militia is to "suppress insurrections," not to foment them. The Constitution also defines Treason as "levying war against [the United States], or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort."

We affirm that there is no legitimate role for political violence in our democracy. Dissent and disagreement over policy are an integral aspect of our democratic process, and the Constitution provides citizens with numerous avenues to peacefully redress their grievances with government and one another (i.e., ballot box, access to courts, etc.). These methods have stood the test of time.

We believe it is imperative that our laws be enforced. We respect the caution and discretion that law enforcement officials use in dealing with dangerous individuals, but the rule of law must prevail, or a dangerous precedent will be established that will threaten all of our freedoms.



Press Releases


Ballots Not Bullets Coalition Denounces Possible Violence in Response to Proposed Bears Ears National Monument

Washington, DC—The Ballots Not Bullets Coalition—a group of organizations from across the country concerned by the increasing use and threat of violence to influence public policy—is denouncing the possibility of armed confrontation in response to the proposed Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah. The monument was proposed by five sovereign tribal nations comprising the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, and is now supported by 26 tribal governments, many local citizens, and others.

Regrettably, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) have both recently made ominous statements foretelling potential violence if the Obama administration designates the monument.

Members of the Coalition issued the following responses:

“Implied violence is not how we make public lands policy in the United States,” said Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity, who was on the ground counter-protesting the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January. “By suggesting rather than denouncing possible violence, Senator Hatch joins the conspiring ranks of Cliven Bundy and his assault-rifle-clad militia thugs who would seize America’s public lands at any cost, laws and democracy be damned.”

“It’s very disappointing to see Senator Hatch and Representative Chaffetz warning our government about violence while doing nothing to make it clear to their constituents that such violence would be both illegal and extraconstitutional,” said Josh Kanter, chairman of the board for Alliance for a Better Utah. “As elected leaders, if they fail to educate Utahans about the peaceful methods we use to redress grievances under our Constitution, they will be partially responsible for any armed confrontation that might take place.”

“There are many people of good faith—at the federal, state and local level—working to resolve this issue at this time,” said John Horning, executive director of WildEarth Guardians. “There is absolutely no reason that anyone should even be considering violence. Such conflict would only serve to further degrade this historic site and put the lives of our men and women in law enforcement at risk.”

“It’s shocking and dangerous to see this kind of fear-mongering by elected officials,” said Shelley Silbert, executive director of Great Old Broads for Wilderness. “These attitudes encourage the type of violence-promoting stunts that we are seeing in southern Utah. We treasure our democracy in this country— elected officials should respect the legislative and legal processes without validating violence.”


The proposed Bears Ears National Monument encompasses 1.9 million acres of land in Utah with tremendous historical and archaeological significance. The region contains rock art dating back thousands of years and tens of thousands of ancient objects and structures. Archaic hunter-gatherers and early Ancestral Puebloan farmers lived there in the past.

Unfortunately, recent acts of vandalism are now threatening this national treasure. There have been at least two dozen confirmed looting incidents over the past five years, including six in the past six months. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), with just two law enforcement officers to patrol the vast expanse of Bears Ears, cannot guarantee the sanctity of the area given existing arrangements.

Currently, the Obama administration is “review[ing] tribal proposals to permanently protect sacred lands for future generations.” One potential step would be to designate the public lands that currently make up the Bears Ears as a national monument under the Antiquities Act. Proponents say such a monument could ensure protection of irreplaceable resources while simultaneously promoting economic development through increased tourism. Opponents to the monument mistakenly claim that tribes in the area will be cut off from traditional uses of the land, such as resource gathering.

Bears Ears Backpacker ThreatThere have been several disturbing incidents of misinformation being spread about the monument in Bears Ears. Recently, a sign was posted declaring “open season” on Colorado backpackers, stating, “The hunt is open anywhere in San Juan County, Utah. There is no limit on how many may be harvested. Any weapon may be used.” Other signs have falsified Department of Interior communications to spread baseless rumors.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) issued an ominous statement in response to the monument proposal, saying, “I would hope that my fellow Utahans would not use violence [in response to the designation of Bear Ears as a national monument], but there are some deeply held positions that cannot be ignored.”  Hatch reiterated this threat of armed confrontation in a private meeting with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on March 8. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT-3rd) warned, “There is a lot of conflict that has escalated into being on the precipice of violence that is unnecessary and unwarranted.” Both men oppose the designation. Neither has made any public statements denouncing violence in response to the designation or acknowledging that such violence would be unacceptable and extraconstitutional.

The threat of violence is unfortunate because various elected officials have been working diligently to forge a compromise. While Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a resolution on May 19th indicating the state’s opposition to a national monument, that resolution still favored “protection and conservation of the Bear Ears area” through a “constitutionally sound, locally driven legislative approach.” House Natural Resources Committee chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) has proposed legislation that would address land-use in seven counties in eastern Utah. A draft released in January 2016, and denounced by the conservation community, would give some protective status on 4.3 million acres, but would also expedite oil and gas drilling, convey title to the state of Utah to thousands of disputed roads,  bar any future Antiquities Act designations in seven Utah counties, and convey some 50,000 acres of federal lands to the state.


The Ballots Not Bullets Coalition is a group of organizations that are concerned by the increasing use of violence—and threats of violence—to affect public policy in the United States. The coalition believes that there is no legitimate role for political violence under our Constitution.

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Ballots Not Bullets Statement on Arrest of Cliven Bundy and Remaining Malheur Occupiers

Washington, DC—The Ballots Not Bullets Coalition, a group of organizations from across the country concerned by the increasing use of violence—and threats of violence—to affect public policy in the United States, applauds the arrest of insurrectionist rancher Cliven Bundy and the remaining four occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife refuge nears Burns, Oregon. The refuge is now under federal control again, and without further loss of life.

Bundy was arrested late Wednesday when he flew into Portland International Airport and booked into Multnomah County jail. He faces weapons charges and a charge of conspiracy to interfere with a federal officer stemming from a 2014 confrontation over unauthorized grazing near his ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada. Bundy had been attempting to travel to Burns to support the remaining four occupiers at Malheur, who were holed up in a parking lot encampment at the site.

After a tense standoff that was broadcast in a livestream on YouTube, the occupiers—David Fry, Sean and Sandy Anderson, and Jeff Banta—were arrested today without incident after surrendering to FBI agents.

“We’re glad to finally see Cliven Bundy arrested and hopefully now brought to justice,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Not only does he owe the American taxpayers more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees but he’s been a driving force behind the violent, racist militia movement that tried to take over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and is now trying to export this same brand of armed theft of public lands elsewhere in the American West.”

“Violence is not how we resolve grievances in our democracy,” said Southern Poverty Law Center senior fellow Mark Potok. “Cliven Bundy thoughts his guns and threats made him bigger than our courts and the rule of law. He was wrong. The FBI deserves a tremendous amount of credit for accomplishing this recent round of arrests peacefully, without bloodshed.”

“A relatively small group of delusional ‘cowboys’ are continuing a century-long pattern of threats and abuse of federal employees who attempt to do their jobs,” said Rose Chilcoat, associate director of Great Old Broads for Wilderness. “It is time to put these outlaws to pasture and support our public lands managers in their efforts to follow laws and regulations that will ensure the West remains wild.”


The Ballots Not Bullets Coalition is a group of organizations that are concerned by the increasing use of violence—and threats of violence—to affect public policy in the United States. The coalition believes that there is no legitimate role for political violence under our Constitution.

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