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.

 

Members

Press Releases

 

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.”

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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 Coalition Statement in Recognition of the Outstanding Service of Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward

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, recognizes Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward for his leadership and outstanding service during the occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

“Sheriff Dave” as he’s known in Burns County, Oregon has worked diligently throughout the crisis to resolve matters without bloodshed. He met personally with Ammon Bundy and the ringleaders of the occupation and offered them a peaceful exit from the refuge, hoping they would take it.

He has also been an articulate spokesman for our democratic institutions. As the occupiers spun paranoid, anti-government theories to justify dispossessing the American people of their lands, Sheriff Ward consistently kept the county and nation focused on the right of Harney County residents to live free from armed oppression. The peace has been disturbed in the county for weeks because a select group of men decided to take up arms to redress their grievances. Schools have been closed. Roads have been shut down. And taxpayers are footing the bill for the many law enforcement officers and assets needed to protect the public.

Last week, in the wake of the arrest of the ringleaders of the occupation (which resulted in the death of resisting rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum), Sheriff Ward spoke with a heavy heart:

This has been tearing our community apart. It’s time for everyone in this illegal occupation to move on. It doesn’t have to be bloodshed in our community. If we have issues with the way things are going in our government, we have a responsibility as citizens to act on them in an appropriate manner. We don’t arm up and rebel. … This can’t happen anymore. This can’t happen in America. And it can’t happen in Harney County.

We are happy that Sheriff Ward remains on the scene, with four occupiers still remaining in the Malheur refuge. His leadership has been critical in keeping that situation from mushrooming into something far worse.

Thank you, Sheriff Ward, for reminding us what patriotism and service to country really looks like.

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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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