Nutball militia says they’re just a social club that collected guns and bombs to defend themselves from government

A group of militia members arrested nearly two years ago in southern Michigan effectively operated as a “social club” that amassed guns and bombs to defend themselves, not to plot a war against the government, their lawyers said Monday at the start of a trial for seven of the defendants…

“David Stone was exercising his God-given right to blow off steam and open his mouth,” his lawyer, William W. Swor, told jurors.

But the federal authorities contend that the Hutaree (pronounced hu-TAR-ee) was on the brink of carrying out a plan to begin attacking police officers, possibly by killing one and then using improvised explosives to ambush mourners at the officer’s funeral…

Nine members of the Hutaree were arrested in March 2010, days after Mr. Stone declared, “It’s go hour,” in a voice mail to an undercover federal agent who had been training with the group, Mr. Graveline said. The seven now on trial are charged with seditious conspiracy, attempting to use weapons of mass destruction and various firearm charges. If convicted, they could be sentenced to life in prison

One of the nine arrested, Joshua Clough, pleaded guilty in December to a firearm charge that carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison. Another defendant, Jacob Ward, was ruled incompetent to stand trial and is undergoing treatment.

Mr. Graveline said the authorities have seized about 100 firearms, including some illegal short-barrel rifles and machine guns, and 148,000 rounds of ammunition from the defendants’ homes. He showed jurors one table covered with guns and held up other examples of evidence collected, including flak jackets, ghillie suits used to camouflage snipers, Kevlar helmets, night-vision goggles and bomb-making instructions…

Mr. Swor described Mr. Stone as a preacher’s son who was raised in an “apocalyptic tradition” and studied the Book of Revelation. Mr. Stone, who invented the name Hutaree because he thought it sounded like something from the “Star Wars” movies his sons liked, believed he needed to be able to defend his family from the Antichrist, Mr. Swor said.

It’s easy enough to dismiss fools like this as paranoid and deluded. Except for the fact that the arrests were initiated because the threat level to the lives of citizens and police seemed elevated and immediate.

The reality is that these murderous clowns aren’t any funnier than any other rightwing gang – from the KKK to posse comitatus militias – who have murdered innocent people for decades.

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