Writing in the June issue of Guns & Ammo magazine, Rep. Steve Stockman said the government “executed” the Branch Davidians near Waco, Texas, and suggested that President Clinton had encouraged the confrontation to push through the ban on assault weapons.
“Bill Clinton and the gun-control lobby were not unhappy with the fiery end of the siege at Waco,” he wrote. “Waco was to be a lesson to gun owners all over America: Don’t own firearms that the government does not like.”
The Texas Republican said that if Clinton had been unhappy with the raid, he should have had Attorney General Janet Reno “indicted for premeditated murder.”
Stockman, who has emerged as one of the most strident anti-gun-control advocates in Congress, is one of the principle sponsors of a bill to repeal the ban on assault weapons.
The accusations in Stockman’s article parallel views of the Waco raid held by many in militia movements and, according to federal authorities, by the two men charged in the Oklahoma City bombing - Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.
The congressman was recently embroiled in controversy when it was learned that he received a cryptic fax regarding the bombing on the day of the explosion by a woman working with a Michigan militia unit.
In an interview Thursday, Stockman said he had not meant to suggest that the Clinton administration intended any loss of life at Waco. But, he said, the administration did hope for a dramatic weapons seizure to “sensationalize their issue.”
“If they had pulled it off the way they wanted to, it would have been a feather in their cap,” he said. “If they had accomplished their original goal, that would have been a showcase of why we need gun control.”
While Stockman denied involve ment in the anti-government militia groups invigorated by the Waco raid, the article makes it clear that he took a special interest in the event and viewed it as part of an effort by the Clinton administration to push gun control.
“Waco was supposed to be a way for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Clinton administration to prove the need for the ban on the so-called ‘assault weapons,”’ Stockman wrote. “It was no coincidence that Waco happened at the beginning of Bill Clinton’s term. Bill Clinton had agreed to do Sarah Brady’s bidding if he became president.”
Sarah Brady is the wife of Jim Brady, former President Reagan’s press secretary, who was seriously wounded and permanently disabled as a result of an assassination attempt on Reagan. She now heads the group Handgun Inc., which has lobbied for gun control.
The assault weapon ban was included in the crime bill passed by Congress last summer, more than a year after the Waco confrontation.
Four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians were killed on Feb. 28, 1993, when heavily armed federal agents tried to raid the cult’s compound and seize its cache of illegal weapons.
More than 80 cult members died - many in an apparent mass suicide - when the FBI stormed the compound with tanks on April 19, 1993, after a 51-day siege. The dead included 25 children.
While the Justice Department cleared itself and the FBI of any blame in the raid, Republicans in Congress are now vowing to hold hearings to further investigate the federal involvement.
Revenge for the Waco incident is cited by federal authorities as a motive for last month’s bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, in which at least 167 people died.
In the article, Stockman makes it clear that he views the government as the enemy and the residents of the compound as the victims in Waco.
“The Branch Davidians had committed no crime prior to the arrival of an army on their doorstep,” he wrote. “And the Branch Davidians were executed in a particularly gruesome way: gassed, choked and then incinerated. What had these people done to provoke the government to do this?”
Answering his own question, he continued: “The assault weapon ban was conceived as a means of disarming honest American citizens. The ban also had the advantage of making certain that a potentially tyrannical government would have less to fear from an aroused and angry American citizenry.”
Stockman, who defeated longtime Democratic Rep. Jack Brooks last fall largely on the issue of gun control, has received support from the National Rifle Association, which contributed $9,900 to his campaign, and the more strident Gun Owners of America, which gave him $8,700 in direct and indirect contributions.