Ammon Bundy and his band of merry men probably like to view themselves as tough, true American patriots, even as they beg supporters to send them snacks, cuddly blankets and teddy bears (ok, I made those last two up). But is Bundy willing to go to the lengths that one Texas man went to hold off the government?
While everyone has been watching the saga of Bundy and the Oregon wildlife refuge occupation, a Texas man named John Joe Gray has ended what is considered to be the country’s longest armed standoff; one that lasted for 15 years.
WFAA reports that in 1999, Gray was charged with assaulting a Texas state trooper. The trooper had stopped Gray for a traffic violation and discovered that Gray was carrying a concealed pistol without a permit. When the trooper tried to arrest Gray, the two got into a fight, and Gray bit the officer.
Following the incident, Gray was charged with assaulting a public servant, but he refused to return to court to answer the charges. Instead, he gathered his family, and his guns, and has spent the last 15 years on his 47-acre ranch. In 2000, Gray told ABC News, “If they come out after us, bring extra body bags. Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” But no violent confrontation between Gray and authorities ever occurred.
Gray has occupied his time by patrolling the perimeter of his property along with his children, grandchildren and friends. Signs of the gate at the edge of Gray’s ranch show anti-government paranoia that would make Ammon Bundy proud. “Vaccinations equal annihilation” reads one. Another offers a quote falsely attributed to Thomas Jefferson: “When people fear the government there is tyranny. When government fears the people, there is freedom.” Still another features a noose, with a message that says “solution to tyranny.”
The charges against Gray were actually dropped in 2014, but nobody thought to tell the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, or the Gray family, until recently.
Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt sees the standoff with Gray as different from the one in Oregon. “Those folks have occupied a public building. Joe Gray is on 47-acres that he owns out there,” the sheriff said.
Why didn’t anyone try to go onto Gray’s property and take him into custody during the standoff? Nutt was afraid that had they tried, his deputies may have been killed. He told WFAA,
It wasn’t worth it. Joe Gray has been in prison out there himself, in my opinion, for 14 years.
So, Ammon Bundy, you think you’re tough in your fight for “freedom.” But are you John Joe Gray tough? Could you make it for 15 years, or will you be done as soon as your Doritos run out?
Here’s a report on John Joe Gray, from WFAA:
Featured image via WFAA screen capture