In 2010, two police officers were shot and killed by “sovereign citizens” in Arkansas
during a routine traffic stop. In most cases, sovereign citizens tend to be more of a nuisance
than a deadly threat. They claim that US law does not apply to them, and refuse to pay
traffic tickets and taxes. However, a 2014 survey of law enforcement officers found that
sovereign citizens were the number one threat in the US, more so than even islamic extremists
or neo-Nazis. So, what exactly is a sovereign citizen?
Well, the concept is a little difficult to explain, mainly because it doesn’t really
make any sense. Basically, sovereign citizens believe that through a series of loopholes
in common law court decisions, selective readings of the constitution, and obscure tax codes,
that they do not have to follow US law. They tend to argue that because they never agreed
to the federal government’s authority, they cannot be arrested or charged with a crime.
It is difficult to summarize the reasons behind this belief because every sovereign citizen
tends to have their own interpretation of common law. Sovereign citizens often renounce
their US citizenship, driver's licence, marriage license, voter registration, birth certificate,
and anything else they see as a contract with the federal government. In nearly all cases
their claims are dismissed as frivolous. Most sovereign citizen organizations charge memberships
or sell DVDs, promising to explain how to achieve sovereign status.
The movement was originally started by a 1960s Christian white supremacist group called “Posse
Comitatus." One of their core beliefs is that the United States is controlled by a global
Jewish conspiracy. In order to distance themselves from supporting this government while still
continuing to live within the US, they developed the belief that they are not subject to federal
laws. The group is most known for pioneering techniques known as “paper terrorism." This
includes filing frivolous lawsuits, fake reports of tax evasion on government officials, and
similar false documents. This forces their victims to spend time and money responding
to these illegitimate claims, which sometimes even leads to bankruptcy.
One of the simplest arguments against sovereign citizens is that the constitution, and by
extension, the federal government, has express authority over the citizens of the United
States. This is according to article six of the constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause.
Those who renounce their citizenship must do it in a foreign country and in front of
a US diplomat or consular. They cannot simply declare themselves “sovereign” while continuing
to live in the US.
As of 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center estimated that there were about 100,000 hard
core sovereign citizens. Another 200,000 have attempted sovereign citizen arguments against
things like traffic tickets and taxes. Although their beliefs are completely illegitimate
and borne out of anti-semitic racism, they are a disruptive and growing force within
the United States.
Although the fear of islamic extremists has reached an all time high in the United States,
attacks are actually almost nonexistent. Check out this video about what terrorist threats
America is actually facing. Thanks for watching TestTube News, don’t forget to like and
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