Paul: Western Land Ownership Should be Addressed, Not Corrected Through 'Armed Standoff'
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) needs to "tone down the rhetoric a little bit" on calling the militia members at the Bundy Ranch "domestic terrorists."
"I do think that the federal government, through the Endangered Species Act, has overstepped. I think the fact that 80 percent of the land is owned by the federal government in Nevada, these are things we could correct," Paul told Fox. "But I don't think they ought to be corrected in a standoff or an armed standoff or in violence."
"I have legislation to try to fix some of this. I would send the Endangered Species Act back to the states and let the governors and state legislature oversee this," he added. "I have had this in the hopper for a year. And if Senator Reid wants to have constructive dialogue on the problem, I would love to have a floor debate and a vote on my bill."
The senator said that within the dispute over grazing fees, "there is real debate where whether this land should be owned by the federal government or state government."
"With regard to his specifics, I'm for obeying the law and I'm not for a violent outcome. But with regard to the general question, should the states have some prerogative in this, I think so," Paul continued. "I would like to see the land owned by individuals, either privately or, at the very most, the state government, but not the federal government. And I would like to see the Endangered Species Act administered with a little more sense of what people need as well as what animals need."
It's the "absurdity coming from the federal government" that is making people angry in cases such as this, he said.
"They charge homeowners or property owners in Kentucky money to chop down our trees if they find a bat on the land. So really, this needs to be administered closer to home so we wouldn't have, I think, such outrageous overstepping by authorities."
Reid told KSNV-TV “it’s obvious that you can’t just walk away from this."
"And we can speculate all we want to speculate to what’s going to happen next. But I don’t think it’s going to be tomorrow that something is going to happen, but something will happen. We are a nation of laws, not of men and women," he said.
Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), though, told the Nevada station that he takes "more issues with the BLM coming in with a paramilitary army of individuals with snipers."
"I’m talking to people and groups that are there at the event. Your own government with sniper lenses on you. It made a lot of people very uncomfortable,” he said.