Supreme Court rebuffs bid to expand legal protections for gun silencers

FILE PHOTO: SilencerCo CEO Joshua Waldron shows guns with suppressors in West Valley City, Utah February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart/File Photo

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a bid to widen legal protections for gun silencers in a case involving two Kansas men convicted for failing to register the devices as required by federal law, as the justices again sidestepped a chance to rule on the scope of the right to bear arms.

The justices declined to hear appeals by the two men, Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler, and left in place their convictions in cases brought by federal prosecutors. The men had asked the court to decide whether silencers – muzzle attachments that suppress the sound of a gunshot – are covered by the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, which protects the right to keep and bear arms.

The court’s action came in the aftermath of a May 31 mass shooting in the Virginia coastal city of Virginia Beach in which a gunman who killed 12 people used weapons including a handgun equipped with a silencer.

President Donald Trump, a Republican with a close relationship to the National Rifle Association pro-gun lobby, said in an interview aired on June 5 that he does not like silencers and would be open to considering banning the devices. His administration this year imposed a ban on “bump stock” attachments that enable semi-automatic weapons to be fired rapidly, with the Supreme Court in March permitting the policy to take effect.

Kettler and Cox were prosecuted together in 2014 after Kettler purchased a silencer from Cox’s military surplus store in Chanute, Kansas. Both were prosecuted under a federal law called the National Firearms Act, which requires registration of certain firearms, with silencers included in a list of covered items along with grenades, machine guns and bombs.

Cox was convicted of possessing an unregistered silencer as well as an unregistered short-barreled rifle and transferring unregistered silencers. Kettler was convicted of possessing an unregistered silencer.

The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld both men’s convictions last year, prompting them to appeal to the Supreme Court.

In January, the Supreme Court agreed to hear its biggest gun rights case since 2010, taking up a challenge to New York City’s strict limits on handgun owners transporting their firearms outside the home.

New York officials are considering revising the measure, which may lead to the Supreme Court case becoming moot before the justices hear arguments in their next term, which begins in October.

The court in recent years has been reluctant to take up gun cases and has yet to decide whether the Second Amendment protects a right to carry guns in public, a question left unanswered in its two most recent gun-related decisions.

In its 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller ruling, the court held that the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual right to bear arms. In its 2010 McDonald v. City of Chicago ruling, the court held that the earlier ruling applied to the states.

The court currently has two appeals pending that ask for the justices to rule that the right to bear arms extends outside the home, as well as two other gun-related cases. The justices may be waiting for the New York case to be resolved before deciding what moves to take on the other cases.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

U.S. judge upholds Massachusetts assault weapons ban

FILE PHOTO - AR-15 rifles are displayed for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

By Nate Raymond

(Reuters) – A federal judge on Friday upheld a Massachusetts law banning assault weapons including the AR-15, saying the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantee of Americans’ right to bear firearms does not cover them.

U.S. District Judge William Young in Boston ruled that assault weapons and large-capacity magazines covered by the 1998 law fall outside the scope of the Second Amendment’s personal right to bear arms.

He also rejected a challenge to an enforcement notice Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey issued in 2016 clarifying what under the law is a “copy” of an assault weapon. Healey announced that notice after a gunman killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

The decision released on Friday came amid renewed attention to school shootings, gun violence and firearms ownership after a gunman killed 17 students and faculty at a Florida high school in February, prompting a surge of gun control activism by teenage students.

In a 47-page ruling, Young cited former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative who died in 2016, as having observed that weapons that are most useful in military service may be banned. Young said the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle was such a weapon.

He acknowledged arguments by plaintiffs including the Gun Owners’ Action League who noted the AR-15’s popularity in arguing the law must be unconstitutional because it would ban a class of firearms Americans had overwhelming chosen for legal purposes.

“Yet the AR-15’s present-day popularity is not constitutionally material,” Young wrote. “This is because the words of our Constitution are not mutable. They mean the same today as they did 227 years ago when the Second Amendment was adopted.”

Healey, a Democrat, in a statement welcomed the decision.

“Strong gun laws save lives, and we will not be intimidated by the gun lobby in our efforts to end the sale of assault weapons and protect our communities and schools,” she said.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs did not respond to a request for comment.

They had filed their lawsuit in 2017 and based part of their case on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Scalia authored in 2008 that held for the first time that individual Americans have a right to own guns.

The justices have avoided taking up another major gun case in the years since and in November refused to hear a similar case challenging Maryland’s 2013 state ban on assault weapons.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Trump backs effort to improve gun background checks: White House

Placards and letters are shown, signed by worshipers at Christ Church United Methodist Church in response to shootings in nearby Parkland, Florida which will be sent to legislators and officials in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S. February 18, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

By Jeff Mason

PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) – The White House said on Monday that President Donald Trump supports efforts to improve federal background checks for gun purchases, days after a shooting at a Florida school killed 17 people.

Trump spoke to Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, on Friday about a bi-partisan bill that he and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy introduced to improve federal compliance with criminal background checks, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system,” Sanders said in a statement.

Previous mass shootings in the United States have also stirred outrage and calls for action to tighten U.S. gun laws, with few results in Congress.

Students are mobilizing around the country in favor of stronger gun laws after the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history took place on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a former student is accused of murdering 17 people using an assault-style rifle.

Trump, who visited survivors of the shooting and law enforcement officials on Friday night, is a strong supporter of gun rights and won the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobby group, for his 2016 presidential campaign.

Many Republicans generally oppose measures to tighten gun restrictions, citing the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment protection of the right to bear arms.

Former President Barack Obama and many of his fellow Democrats unsuccessfully pushed to pass gun control legislation after a gunman killed 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

Cornyn and Murphy introduced their bill to improve federal background checks last November, days after a gunman killed more than two dozen people in a church in Texas.

The bill, called the Fix NICS Act, would ensure that states and federal agencies comply with existing law on reporting criminal history records to the national background check system.

Cornyn, of Texas, had complained when introducing the legislation that compliance by agencies was “lousy.”

Students are planning a “March For Our Lives” in Washington on March 24 to call attention to school safety and ask lawmakers to enact gun control.

Some students reacted with caution to Trump’s support on background checks.

“We want to prevent mass shootings from happening and while this could have happened with other types of weapons, NeverAgain believes school safety should be priority right now, not just background checks,” said Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Kali Clougherty, 18, referring to a campaign for gun control. “This is about the victims. Don’t forget that, we never will.”

(Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington and Katanga Johnson in Florida; Editing by Alistair Bell)

South Carolina capital could be first U.S. city to ban gun bump stocks

An example of a bump stock that attaches to a semi-automatic rifle to increase the firing rate is seen at Good Guys Gun Shop in Orem, Utah, U.S. on October 4, 2017.

By Harriet McLeod

(Reuters) – South Carolina’s capital on Tuesday could become the first U.S. city to ban the use of bump stocks, a gun accessory that has drawn national scrutiny after being found among the Las Vegas mass shooter’s arsenal of weapons in the October rampage.

Last month, Massachusetts became the first state to pass a law that explicitly bans bump stocks.

Steve Benjamin, the mayor of Columbia, the South Carolina capital, said the city council was expected in a vote on Tuesday night to approve an ordinance barring the devices, which allow semiautomatic rifles to fire hundreds of rounds a minute like fully automatic machine guns.

“One of the common refrains that you hear, whether it was in Texas or Vegas or Sandy Hook, is that a good guy with a gun could have stopped the carnage,” Benjamin, a Democrat, said in a phone interview on Monday. “It’s time for the good guys with guns to begin to pass some really good policy.”

Authorities said Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock had 12 rifles outfitted with bump stocks in the hotel room where he launched his attack on an outdoor concert, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Since then several states and cities have proposed measures outlawing or restricting the attachments, and the U.S. Justice Department said earlier this month it was considering a ban on certain bump stocks.

California and New York do not prohibit bump stocks outright, but the devices fall under the definition of an automatic weapon, which are illegal in those states, according to Anne Teigen, who covers firearm legislation for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some other states and the District of Columbia have assault weapons bans that could include bump stocks.

“We are not aware of any cities that have passed ordinancesbanning bump stocks,” said Tom Martin, a spokesman for the National League of Cities.

In Columbia, four of the council’s six members approved the city’s proposed ordinance on a first reading earlier this month.

The measure also would ban the use of other gun attachments that allow rifles to fire faster. Owners would be required to keep them stored separately from any weapon.

Trigger-enhancing devices are not gun parts, gun components, weapons or ammunition, which state law prohibits cities from regulating, Benjamin said.

The mayor, who has a background in law enforcement and said he owns guns, said the measure had drawn support from local police and council members who support the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protecting gun ownership rights.

(Reporting by Harriet McLeod in Charleston, South Carolina; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Leslie Adler)

Top court spurns National Rifle Association challenge to Maryland assault weapons ban

U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington, U.S., November 27, 2017. The Court, which has avoided major gun cases for seven years, on Monday declined to hear a challenge backed by the National Rifle Association to Maryland's 2013 state ban on assault weapons enacted after a Connecticut school massacre.

By Andrew Chung

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court, which has avoided major gun cases for seven years, on Monday declined to hear a challenge backed by the National Rifle Association to Maryland’s 2013 state ban on assault weapons enacted after a Connecticut school massacre.

The court turned away an appeal by several Maryland residents, firearms dealers and the state NRA association, who argued that the ban violated their right to keep and bear arms under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

The justices sidestepped the roiling national debate over the availability of military-style guns to the public.

The case focused on weapons that have become a recurring feature in U.S. mass shootings including the Nov. 5 attack at a Texas church that killed 26 people, the Oct. 1 attack at a Las Vegas concert that killed 58 people, and the 2012 massacre of 20 schoolchildren and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which prompted Maryland’s law.

Assault weapons are popular among gun enthusiasts.

The challengers, who had sued Maryland’s governor and other officials in 2013, appealed a February ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia that upheld the state’s law. The 4th Circuit, ruling 10-4, said it had no power to extend constitutional protections to “weapons of war.”

Maryland’s ban outlaws “assault long guns,” mostly semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 and AK-47, as well as large-capacity magazines, which prevent the need for frequent reloading.

Backed by the influential NRA gun lobby, the plaintiffs said in a court filing that semi-automatic rifles are in common use and that law-abiding citizens should not be deprived of them.

“The sands are always shifting with the Supreme Court,” Democratic Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said. “I hope that this means they have reached a conclusion that they are not going to fiddle with assault weapons bans across the country.”

The Supreme Court last year left in place assault weapon bans in New York and Connecticut.

“It’s inexplicable to me that people would allow the use of assault weapons when they see the carnage that has been inflicted on innocent victims around the country,” Frosh added.

The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

FLORIDA CASE

The Supreme Court on Monday also declined to hear a second gun-related case in which a Florida man convicted of openly carrying a firearm on the street sought to challenge that state’s ban on such activity.

Defendant Dale Lee Norman, who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, was convicted of openly carrying a handgun in 2012 near his home in Fort Pierce, Florida. In March of this year, the Florida Supreme Court rejected Norman’s challenge to the so-called open-carry ban, saying it did not violate his right to bear arms.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued important rulings in gun cases in 2008 and 2010 but has not taken up a major firearms case since. It has repeatedly refused to second guess lower court decisions upholding state and local restrictions on assault weapons, which filled a void after a federal ban on these firearms expired in 2004.

In a landmark 2008 ruling, the Supreme Court for the first time found that the Second Amendment protected an individual’s right to gun ownership under federal law, specifically to keep a handgun at home for self-defense. In 2010, the court found that right extended to state and local laws as well.

Since then, gun rights advocates have been probing how far those rights extend, including the types of guns and where they can be carried.

The 4th Circuit, in upholding Maryland’s law, noted the disproportionate use of semi-automatic assault rifles in mass shootings and said these weapons are like the military’s M-16 machine guns, which the Supreme Court in its 2008 ruling agreed may be banned. There was also little evidence that such guns are well-suited for self-defense, the 4th Circuit added.

The National Rifle Association criticized the 4th Circuit for finding that “the Second Amendment provides absolutely zero protection to the most popular long guns in the country and standard-capacity ammunition magazines that number in the tens of millions.”

 

 

(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

 

Trump pledges fealty to NRA gun lobby

NRA Executive Director Chris Cox (L) and Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre (R) welcome U.S. President Donald Trump (C) onstage to deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Steve Holland

ATLANTA (Reuters) – President Donald Trump pledged to uphold Americans’ right to possess guns on Friday in a speech that he used to revisit some 2016 election campaign themes from his vow to build a border wall to dismissing a Democratic senator as “Pocahontas.”

Trump pledged his allegiance to the powerful National Rifle Association, the country’s leading gun-rights advocacy group, at a convention attended by thousands. Elected in part on a law-and-order platform, Trump was the first sitting president to address the NRA since fellow Republican Ronald Reagan in 1983.

“As your president, I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” Trump told thousands of people attending the NRA’s annual convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

Trump, whose candidacy last year was endorsed by the NRA, marks his first 100 days in office on Saturday with no major legislative achievements but with a long litany of actions to loosen federal regulations and review free trade agreements.

Stymied by his initial bid to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border when Congress balked at funding the initiative, Trump vowed he will sooner or later build the wall, which had been a signature campaign promise.

“We need a wall. We’ll build the wall. Don’t even think about it,” he said.

Politics and his unexpected election victory on Nov. 8 over Democrat Hillary Clinton also featured prominently in his remarks.

Speculating on who might run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, Trump brought up the name of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and used a derogatory nickname he had adopted for her last year.

“It may be Pochahontas, and she is not big on the NRA,” Trump said of Warren, who had once said she had some Native American ancestry.

Pocahontas is a legendary Native American figure from the 1600s.

Trump later attended a fund-raiser for Republican candidate Karen Handel, who will face Democrat Jon Ossoff on June 20 to determine who will win a House of Representatives seat to replace Tom Price, who became Trump’s health and human services secretary.

Trump, at the NRA event, returned time and again to the theme of responsible gun ownership.

“You have a true friend and champion in the White House,” he said. “We want to assure you of the sacred right of self defense for all of our citizens.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Tom Brown)

Senate Republicans agree to vote on gun control: Democratic senator

Gun Control meeting of politicans

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy ended a blockade of the Senate after nearly 15 hours on Thursday, saying Republicans agreed to hold votes on measures to expand background checks and prevent people on U.S. terrorism watch lists from buying guns.

Democrats stalled Senate proceedings on Wednesday in a bid to push for tougher gun control legislation following Sunday’s massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and spoke on the Senate floor through out the night.

Republicans, who currently have a 54-person majority in the Senate, have over the years blocked gun control measures, saying they step on Americans’ right to bear arms as guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

“When we began there was no commitment, no plan to debate these measures,” Murphy, of Connecticut, said during the 15th hour of the filibuster early on Thursday.

He said Democrats were given a commitment by the Senate’s Republican leadership that votes would be allowed on two measures on preventing gun sales to people on terrorism watch lists and expanding background checks.

“No guarantee that those amendments pass but we’ll have some time to … prevail upon members to take these measures and turn them into law,” Murphy said.

With Republicans and the National Rifle Association gun lobby under pressure to respond to the massacre, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would meet with the NRA to discuss ways to block people on terrorism watch or no-fly lists from buying guns.

The Senate had began discussions on legislation to ban firearm sales to the hundreds of thousands of people on U.S. terrorism watch lists. The Orlando gunman, who carried out the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, had been on such a list.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged senators on Wednesday to offer ideas on how to prevent another attack like the one in Orlando.

Late on Wednesday Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said negotiations “were little more than a smokescreen by Republicans trying to give themselves political cover while they continue to march in lock-step with the NRA’s extreme positions.”

If Congress was to pass a gun control measure, it would mark the first time in more than 20 years that lawmakers agreed on how to address the hot-button issue. A ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, such as the one used in Orlando, had gone into effect in 1994 and expired 10 years later.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Writing Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Bill Trott)

No constitutional right to concealed guns: U.S. appeals court

Guns at Cabela's

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Firearm owners have no constitutional right to carry a concealed gun in public, a divided U.S. appeals court in California ruled on Thursday, upholding the right of officials to only grant permits to those facing a specific danger.

The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a victory for gun control advocates which sets a legal precedent in western states, was seen as unlikely to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future.

The San Francisco-based court, in a 7-4 decision, found California’s San Diego and Yolo counties did not violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects the right to bear arms, when they denied some applicants a concealed firearm license.

“We hold that the Second Amendment does not protect, in any degree, the carrying of concealed firearms by members of the general public,” Judge William Fletcher wrote in a 52-page opinion.

Sheriffs in the two California counties had limited their permits to applicants showing “good cause” to be armed, such as documented threats or working in a wide range of risky occupations.

The ruling places the 9th Circuit Court in line with other U.S. appellate courts that have upheld the right of officials in the states of New York, Maryland and New Jersey to deny concealed carry applications in certain cases.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, in the middle of a raging national debate on guns, declined to weigh in on whether firearm owners have a constitutional right to carry concealed guns.

The 9th Circuit Court’s opinion noted the Supreme Court had not answered the question of whether the Second Amendment ensures a right to carry firearms openly, as opposed to concealed under clothing.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Consuelo Callahan wrote that her colleagues on the 9th Circuit had gone too far. “The Second Amendment is not a ‘second class’ amendment,” she wrote.

Under California’s concealed carry law, more than 70,000 residents or less than 1 percent of the state’s population had active permits last year, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris applauded the ruling while Chuck Michel, president of gun rights group the California Rifle and Pistol Association, criticized it.

“This decision will leave good people defenseless, as it completely ignores the fact that law-abiding Californians who reside in counties with hostile sheriffs will now have no means to carry a firearm outside the home for personal protection,” Michel said in a statement.

If plaintiffs appeal, the Supreme Court may refrain from reviewing the case because other U.S. circuit courts have also upheld certain requirements for concealed carry permits, said University of California, Los Angeles, law professor Adam Winkler in an email.

The decision by the full 9th Circuit reversed a 2-1 decision in 2014 by a panel of the appellate court that found California residents have an inherent right to a concealed weapon for self defense.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Richard Chang and Tom Brown)

Oregon occupation simmers as few holdouts surrounded by law enforcement

BURNS, Ore. (Reuters) – Police and federal agents sought on Thursday to convince a handful of remaining protesters to abandon their occupation of a U.S. wildlife refuge in Oregon following the shooting death of a comrade and calls from their jailed leader to stand down.

It was not certain how many holdouts were still hunkered down in a cluster of small buildings inside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Oregon as of Thursday morning, but in a video posted overnight on YouTube, activist David Fry said he was among five people still there.

Eight more occupiers have left the compound since law enforcement surrounded it after taking protest leader Ammon Bundy and other members of his group into custody on Tuesday evening, the FBI said in a statement.

“The FBI and our partners continue to work around the clock to empty the refuge of the armed occupiers in the safest way possible,” the agency said in its statement.

Bundy left the refuge on Tuesday afternoon accompanied by members of his leadership team en route to speak at a community meeting in John Day, Oregon, and was stopped by law enforcement along Highway 395.

Shots were fired and one protester was killed before Bundy and several others were taken into custody. Activists have identified the slain man as Robert LaVoy Finicum, a rancher who acted as a spokesman for the occupiers. Ammon’s brother, Ryan, was wounded in the incident.

Law enforcement officials, citing an investigation, have refused to say what led to the fatal shooting but pleaded with protest members to leave the refuge peacefully.

Following a court appearance in Portland on Wednesday, Ammon Bundy, in a statement read by his attorney, urged the holdouts to stand down, saying he would carry on the fight in the legal system.

“To those remaining at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here,” he said. “Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is ours for now in the courts. Please go home.”

In an audio recording released by Ammon Bundy’s attorney on Thursday, Bundy’s wife Lisa repeated his message to the protesters remaining at the wildlife refuge.

“I spoke with Ammon’s lawyers yesterday and heard from his voice that those were his instructions: he wants people to go home; to go to their families,” Lisa Bundy said in the brief recording.

Bundy and at least a dozen armed individuals holed up at the refuge on Jan. 2 in a flare-up in the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, a decades-old conflict over federal control of millions of acres in the West.

In the YouTube video, Fry said some activists fled so quickly after Bundy’s arrest that they left their guns.

“Right now, the situation is that they’re willing to let, out of five people left here, four of us are allowed to leave, and one of them … he has a felony warrant,” Fry said.

Fry said his group will not leave the refuge unless authorities drop the charges against the man accused of obstructing a federal worker from doing his job.

Of the eight people who have left the refuge since Bundy’s arrest, three were taken into custody, the FBI said in it’s statement.

Jason Patrick, who remained at the refuge following Bundy’s arrest, told Reuters by phone some protesters were leaving through checkpoints but he rejected the word “surrender.”

Patrick was among the three arrested late Wednesday, according to the FBI.

Reactions to the takeover from residents in Burns, about 30 miles (48 km) from the refuge, have included sympathy for two imprisoned local ranchers whose plight began the protest, to dismay at the armed occupation by individuals seen as outsiders.

(Additional reporting by Ed Tobin and Gina Cherelus in New York and Victoria Cavaliere and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Gareth Jones and Bill Trott)

Authorities urge remaining Oregon occupiers to quit after killing

BURNS, Ore. (Reuters) – State and federal authorities pleaded with the armed men still occupying a U.S. wildlife refuge in Oregon to leave on Wednesday, a day after an attempt to resolve the standoff peacefully by detaining their leader ended with one man shot to death.

But one of the remaining occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Oregon told Reuters in an interview that he would not give up until the group’s grievances over federal land rights were addressed.

Law enforcement surrounded the refuge and blocked off access roads on Tuesday evening, after occupation leader Ammon Bundy and his group were taken into custody at a traffic stop along Highway 395.

Citing the investigation, authorities declined to say what led to the fatal shooting of one member of Bundy’s group, identified by activists as Robert LaVoy Finicum, a rancher who acted as a spokesman for the occupiers. Bundy’s brother, Ryan, was wounded in the incident.

At a news conference in Burns, Oregon, on Wednesday morning Greg Bretzing, FBI special agent in charge of the agency’s Portland office, said that authorities wanted a peaceful end to the situation and that the remaining occupiers were “free to leave” the refuge.

“Let me be clear: It is the actions and choices of the armed occupiers of the refuge that have lead us to where we are today,” Bretzing said. “They had ample opportunity to leave the refuge peacefully and as the FBI and our partners have clearly demonstrated, actions are not without consequences.”

Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, his voice breaking, said at the news conference: “I’m disappointed that a traffic stop yesterday that was supposed to bring peaceful resolution to this ended badly. Multiple law enforcement agencies put a lot of work into putting together the best tactical plan they could, to take these guys down peacefully …

“If it was as simple as just waiting out some folks down there to get out of some buildings, we could have waited a lot longer,” Ward said. “But this has been tearing our community apart. It’s time for everybody in this illegal occupation to move on. There doesn’t have to be bloodshed in our community.”

“THIS CAN’T HAPPEN ANYMORE”

Ward said if the occupiers had legitimate grievances with the government, they should use the “appropriate manner” to address them.

“This can’t happen anymore. This can’t happen in America and it can’t happen in Harney County,” he said.

One of the remaining occupiers at the reserve, Jason Patrick, told Reuters by phone they would stay until the “redress of grievances.”

“I’ve heard ‘peaceful resolution’ for weeks now and now there’s a cowboy who is my friend who is dead – so prepare for the peaceful resolution,” Patrick said.

On Wednesday morning an occupier posted what appeared to be a live feed from the refuge on a YouTube page called “DefendYourBase.” In it, a few occupiers, some dressed in camouflage, were seen in front of what appeared to be a heavy-duty 320D excavator, at least two of them carrying firearms.

One man spoke on a phone with a person he identified as his mother and offered her reassurance.

“If I die, I died for my country, I died a free man,” he said. “That’s how I want to die.” The man added that his group had “food and everything for the long haul.”

The Malheur takeover, which started Jan. 2 with at least a dozen armed men, was a flare-up in the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, a decades-old conflict over federal control of millions of acres in the West.

Bundy’s father, Cliven, was a key figure in a 2014 armed standoff with federal officials over unpaid grazing fees in Nevada.

The arrests and shooting have angered anti-government protesters across the country, said Mike Vanderboegh, a gun-rights activist active in self-proclaimed militia circles. “It’s all I can do to keep people from going and shooting feds right now,” he told Reuters.

Vanderboegh said the FBI had acted too quickly to end a situation that was already headed toward peaceful resolution.

Amid concerns that Finicum’s killing could escalate into further violence, the Pacific Patriots Network, Oath Keepers and the Idaho III% – all self-styled militia groups sympathetic to the occupiers – said in a joint statement they were issuing an immediate “stand by” order to followers.

“During this time, cooler heads must prevail,” the statement said. “We do not wish to inflame the current situation and will engage in open dialogue until all of the facts have been gathered.”

Federal officials say they had probable cause to arrest Finicum, who told NBC News earlier this month that he would rather die than be detained.

Those arrested face federal charges of conspiracy to use force, intimidation or threats to impede federal officers from discharging their duties, the FBI said. They were scheduled to make an initial court appearance on Wednesday afternoon.

(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles, Jonathan Allen, Melissa Fares, Amy Tennery and Ed Tobin in New York and Andy Sullivan and Julia Edwards in Washington, D.C.; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bill Trott)