ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) — A new report indicates that militia or Patriot groups continue to grow across the United States, including Missouri.
The Southern Poverty Law Center report shows another national growth spurt in 2012, and Missouri Highway Patrol investigator Sgt. Eric Eidson tells KMOX he has seen an “increase in recruitment” locally.
“Gun control spurred the first wave of the militia movement in the 1990s,” said the report’s author, Mark Potok. “Just as it is now spurring the second wave.”
Potok says the first wave came after President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Bill.
Potok says Missouri has 29 patriot groups and Illinois has 45.
Though while most Patriots or militia members will never be involved in violence, Potok said the growth is a concern. “It does present a danger of sorts, both in terms of criminal activity and also the way these groups and their propaganda, their ideologies tend to distort the democratic process.”
Along with the growth of paramilitary groups, a retired sheriff is issuing a stern warning about another anti-government movement: sovereign citizens.
Like the paramilitary groups, the increase in the number of people who claim they are not subject to federal, state, or local governments is tied to the renewed talk of gun control.
Retired Sheriff Bob Paudert says sovereigns, many of whom are highly educated professionals, believe they do not have to pay taxes or even mortgages.
“The more encounters they have with law enforcement, the more dangerous they become,” Paudert said. “They feel like they’re being harassed by law enforcement, who first of all, have absolutely no authority to even stop them.”
Paudert has a personal connection to sovereign citizens. His deputy son was murdered by a sovereign man and son in a 2010 shootout in West Memphis, Arkansas. But Paudery says most sovereigns aren’t a threat to the general public.
One area where sovereigns are making their presence felt is in the court system. Paudert says the court system is being overloaded by paperwork submitted by sovereigns trying to take over foreclosed homes, renounce their citizenship, and even refusing to pay traffic tickets.