Units of the Ohio and West Virginia National Guards have been training to fight a new “enemy” — residents of the state who affirm gun rights.
Second Amendment supporters were portrayed as “domestic terrorists” who used chemical and biological weapons against schoolchildren in a disaster preparedness drill the Guard participated in last year. Details of the drill are only now becoming public.
In the drill, two school employees were portrayed as Neo Nazis who tried to use mustard gas (a chemical weapon) to kill students at lunch, MediaTrackers.org reported. The motivation for the attack was anger at gun control laws.
The National Guard drill, held in January 2013, involved a team from the 52nd Civil Support Unit of the National Guard which was called in to deal with chemical weapons found at the school.
“It is a scary day indeed when law enforcement are being trained that Second Amendment advocates are the enemy,” Chad Baus of the Buckeye Firearms Association told MediaTrackers. Baus noted that local police and the fire department also participated in the drill in Portsmouth, Ohio.
Gun Rights Activists Upset
It is easy to see why Ohio Second Amendment activists were upset at this incident.
Second Amendment supporters were portrayed as working with notorious Neo Nazi and racist William Pierce, who died in 2002. Pierce wrote the book The Turner Diaries which allegedly influenced Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Statements about gun rights and the Second Amendment were written on a chalkboard when responders arrived at the school for the training exercise.
“It’s the reality of the world we live in,” Portsmouth County Police Chief Bill Raisin said of the exercise. “Don’t forget there is such a thing as domestic terrorism. This helps us all be prepared.”
Others didn’t see it that way.
“The revelation of this information is appalling to me, and to all citizens of Ohio who are true conservatives and patriots, who don’t have guns for any other reason than that the Second Amendment gives them that right,” Tom Zawistowski, the executive director of the Portage County, Ohio, TEA Party, told Mediatrackers.
The Ohio National Guard has tried to distance itself from the incident and blamed the West Virginia National Guard, which designed the exercise. The exercise is apparently part of an ongoing series of training maneuvers designed to train guardsmen to deal with potential catastrophes.
The Ohio National Guard issued the following statement about the incident on its website:
In January 2013, Ohio National Guard 52nd Civil Support Team members participated in a one-day training exercise in Portsmouth that was created and run by the West Virginia National Guard. The exercise — one of more than 20 the Team did last year — was designed to test team members’ ability to respond to an unknown chemical, biological, radiological or high-yield explosive incident.
To maximize the realism of the exercise, the Ohio National Guard wasn’t involved in the creation or execution of the exercise’s fictitious scenario and was deliberately not informed of its details in advance. It’s not accurate to suggest that certain details of the exercise somehow reflect views or opinions of officials of the Ohio National Guard.
Second Time Guard Targeted Ohio Citizens
This is the second time that Ohio law enforcement has staged “exercises” in which politically minded citizens were portrayed as “domestic terrorists.”
Last year authorities in Athens County, Ohio, had to apologize to fracking opponents after a training exercise that involved members of an “extreme anti-fracking group.”
These incidents are bothersome given American history — the National Guard was regularly used against Americans to violate the rights of striking workers and others before World War I. During those incidents citizens were often branded domestic terrorists because of their political opinions.
The Colorado National Guard was responsible in one of the worst abuses of government power in American history the Ludlow Massacre in 1914 in which up to 26 people including 11 children were killed. During the massacre Guardsman fired on striking workers and set fire to tents where they were staying.