Americans Won’t be Bullied by the Bundy Family

The Bundys and their followers don’t speak for the large majority of Westerners

Western Priorities
3 min readNov 3, 2016


By Jesse Prentice-Dunn

Inside the proposed Gold Butte National Monument | John Fowler (CC BY 2.0)

After last week’s surprise verdict in Oregon, Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, and their father Cliven remain behind bars and will stand trial next year for their role in the 2014 armed standoff with law enforcement in Nevada.

But even from prison, the Bundys have continued spouting nonsensical theories about American public lands, reminding us just how out of step they are from the millions upon millions of Westerners who support parks and public lands, and the public servants who are committed to managing lands for the American people.

As you read news coverage of the Bundy family and their small cohort of vocal followers over the coming months, it is important to keep in mind that they reflect neither a mainstream or majority opinion among Americans who make their homes in Western states.

The Bundys do not speak for the large majority of Westerners

  • Throughout the West, strong majorities support our national public lands. According to public opinion research, more than 90 percent of voters in Nevada, Colorado and Montana believe public lands are an essential part of their state’s economy. Further, 58 percent of Westerners oppose giving states control over national public lands.
  • In Nevada, 50 percent of likely voters do not agree with the Cliven Bundy and his supporters, with only 30 percent supporting him. Polling shows that the more Nevadans hear about the Bundys and their ideas, the more they dislike them.
  • Land managers are public servants performing valuable work, from working with ranchers to caring for wildlife populations. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

Westerners support conserving our public lands and designating new national monuments

  • In Nevada, 71 percent of likely voters support protecting the Gold Butte region as a national monument, including broad majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
  • In Arizona, 80 percent of likely voters support protecting the watersheds surrounding the Grand Canyon as a national monument.
  • In Utah, 66 percent support protecting the Bears Ears region as a national monument.
  • 80 percent of Western voters support the protection of public lands as national monuments by future presidents.
Proposed national monument photos from left to right: John Fowler (CC BY 2.0) | Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (Tim Peterson) | Kaibab National Forest (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The land seizure movement is failing and far outside the mainstream

  • In recent years, proponents of land seizure efforts have lost elections and land seizure bills have failed in state legislatures across the West. Outside of Utah, 15 of 16 land seizure bills considered in Western state legislatures failed last year.
  • In this election cycle, supporting our public lands has been seen as a winning issue for candidates in both parties. For example, Montana’s gubernatorial race and Colorado’s 3rd congressional district both feature candidates touting their support for public lands.
  • The primary group pushing the land seizure agenda, the American Lands Council, has seen its membership drop 45 percent in the past year. Meanwhile, Western Attorneys General provided a sharp rebuke to the legality of the agenda being pushed by the Bundys and the American Lands Council.
  • While members of the Bundy family have compared themselves to Martin Luther King, Jr., their tactics are anything but non-violent. By leading armed standoffs, the Bundys have fanned the flames of a militia movement that exists on the fringes of our society.

The Bundys are still behind bars and facing serious charges for their role in the 2014 armed standoff in Nevada

  • Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon, Ryan, David, and Mel, along with 14 other people, face charges for their roles in an armed standoff with federal employees in 2014. Charges include threatening a federal law enforcement officer and assault on a federal officer.
  • After failing to pay more than $1 million in grazing fees and fines owed to American taxpayers, the Bundys directed armed followers to confront federal agents and contractors who were removing cattle illegally grazing on U.S. public lands.
  • In the armed standoff, the Bundys and their followers surrounded federal agents, far outnumbering them. Many participants carried firearms and some went so far as to take sniper positions, aiming semi-automatic rifles at federal employees.



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