ASHLAND, ORE. — Not all militia members are swaggering Rambo wannabes. Most, according to government and private experts, are law-abiding citizens opposed to racism, anti-Semitism, and the kind of violence that happened at Waco, Texas, Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Oklahoma City.
The stated mission of the Michigan Militia Wolverines (the largest such group in the state) is to defend the US and state constitutions and to "insure that all citizens regardless of race, color, religion, sex, physical character- istics, or national origin shall have the right and opportunity to due process of law...."
The commander of the Wolverines is Lynn Van Huizen, who was wounded in Vietnam and now owns a gun shop in Muskegon, Mich. The group was formed about three years ago, says Mr. Van Huizen, to counter "a definite decline in morality and standards" in the United States, and also because of a perceived threat to US sovereignty from such things as the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The group's main activity is tracking legislation and providing information to lawmakers and citizens. Members (their numbers are not disclosed) also do some military-type training, including weapons safety, first aid, and map reading. But for the most part, says Van Huizen, "We're unorganized and sometimes look that way as well."
The group kicked out several members (including two deputy sheriffs) who were too radical. And Van Huizen has tipped off federal agents when ex-members advocated violence. "There are groups out there that are just plain off the wall," he says, "and we won't have anything to do with them."