David Koresh, the leader of the cult-like religious sect, The Branch Davidians, is best known for being responsible for the deaths of 74 women, men, and children who died in a compound inferno on April 19th, 1993 in Waco, Texas. Koresh, a religious fanatic who claimed he had the gift of prophecy, brainwashed and conditioned many of his followers to shadow his lifestyle and beliefs. He believed that the second coming of Christ was at hand and assembled a compound named Mt. Carmel with his followers. In this compound, Koresh and his minions followed the preachings and lessons of their reform movement and religion. Much like many other cult-like religions, those living on the compound were ostracized from the outside world and had to obey their authoritative figure, David Koresh.
The Branch Davidians had weapons and they had many of them. All the weapons owned by Koresh and other members of the Branch Davidians were in-fact legally purchased and owned. However, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) suspected that some of the weapons were in violation with the law. The ATF decided to take raid to the ranch on February 28th, 1993 which resulted in a gun battle between the Davidians and law enforcement. Unfortunately, during this raid, four agents and six branch members were left dead. After this occurred, the FBI got involved and initiated a standoff that lasted 51 days that will forever go down in history.
Once the standoff was underway, the FBI attempted to get Koresh’s followers safely out of the compound. They negotiated, they threw tear gas into the compound, and they even shot Koresh. Koresh, as fanatical as he was about his religion, kept putting off the release of hostages and kept putting off his surrender. He claimed he had to write religious documentation before he surrendered. Doing so would ensure he would remain free of guilt and blame through the eyes of Christ. This went on for a total of 51 days. David Koresh even publically made a video in the midst of the standoff that was sent to the media. This video showed the adults and older children of his cult whole heartedly explaining that they chose to be there and that it was their own free will to stay put. They wanted to convince everyone that this was clearly not a hostage situation.
51 days into the siege, Attorney General, Janet Reno approved paperwork to proceed with a final assault on the compound. This final assault meant that the FBI could do whatever they wanted in order to remove Branch Davidians from the compound, even if meant using excessive force. In the course of the removal, the compound caught on fire. Many believe that the Branch Davidians intentionally set their compound on fire. Others believe that the fire was deliberately set by the FBI in hopes that the Davidians would try to escape the flames and make their way outside. Unfortunately, there is no valid documentation regarding how the fire was started or who actually started it. There are however many different conspiracies regarding this.
Nine of the people located inside the compound when the fire broke out had escaped unscathed. However, the rest had perished in the flames. Many were suffocated by carbon monoxide and smoke inhalation. Others were crushed to death by the rubble once the building collapsed. Koresh also perished on this day. However, he did not die from effects of the fire. He was shot in the head and killed by his top aide. Many believe he was murdered by his top aide because the aide finally realized he was dealing with a fraud.
While David Koresh and his followers may have believed differently than the majority and while they may have lived a very taboo lifestyle, the guns they had were totally legal. In fact, prior to the siege, the local sheriff investigated the compound, took inventory of the weapons, and found no complaints against the group. There was absolutely no basis for ATF to even start the raid in the first place. This group trusted the government to protect their gun rights under the U.S Constitution and the government failed them. Instead, they were put into an intolerant situation where they were murdered by agents that simply followed the U.S government’s orders. All in all, the siege and standoff really did not need to occur, as there was no legal premise for it.
Who do you think is to blame for the Waco massacre? Do you think this was the governments doing or you think the cult brought this upon themselves?
The motive for Oklahoma bombing, the deadliest domestic-based terrorist attack in the history of the United States, was retaliation for the Ruby Ridge and Waco sieges. In 1993, the mastermind behind Oklahoma bombings, Timothy McVeigh, drove to Waco, Texas during the Waco Siege to show his support.
At the scene, he distributed pro-gun rights propaganda and told a reporter:
“The government is afraid of the guns people have because they have to have control of the people at all times. Once you take away the guns, you can do anything to the people. You give them an inch and they take a mile. I believe we are slowly turning into a socialist government. The government is continually growing bigger and more powerful and the people need to prepare to defend themselves against government control.”
- The Waco Siege fueled anti-government propaganda and paramilitary movements. A conservative radio host G. Gordon Liddy advised listeners not to register their firearms and resist ATF with guns:
“If the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they’re going to be wearing bulletproof vests.”