Thirty-one years ago today, a fire broke out in Waco and killed 76 people—including 25 children. This fire was not the result of a tragic accident or a homicidal arsonist, but rather the final act of 51-day siege by the FBI and ATF.

The government investigated itself and cleared itself of wrongdoing. It determined that the incendiary tear gas canisters used by federal law enforcement were not the cause of the fire and that, in fact, the Branch Davidians chose to die by fire rather than be captured.

Whether the government’s version of events is true or not, the fact of the matter is that the Waco Siege is a tragic event in our nation’s history. It’s a clear example of inappropriate force used against American citizens. On the last day, the FBI even utilized tanks with bulldozers and battering rams.

It’s also important to note that the FBI and ATF—whose public images were still reeling after the Ruby Ridge standoff half a year before—could have completely avoided the siege by arresting the leader of the Branch Davidians on one of his many early morning runs outside of the Waco compound. Instead, eager to secure a PR win—and perhaps make an example of a “gun-nut”—they initiated an almost two-month long siege that killed almost everyone in the compound.

While this can simply be viewed as a tragic event in our nation’s past that we all learned from, we can also start to see troubling trends arising in the modern DOJ that echo those seen three decades ago.

Take, for example, the FBI arrest of Mark Houck a little under two years ago. Houck was a pro-life activist accused of pushing a pro-choice activist in front of an abortion clinic. Rather than serve Houck with summons, the FBI arrested him at gunpoint early in the morning in front of his family.

This is just one of dozens of recent examples of the FBI targeting political opponents of the current administration—whether they’re running against President Joe Biden or they simply represent a different ideology.

Of course, it’s not only the FBI that’s stepping over its bounds—the ATF also just released a new rule, which it claims, “closes the gun show loophole.” It’s just vague enough to be weaponized against any gunowner who buys and either sells or gifts a few guns in a year—even if it’s just a dad buying rifles for his adult children. It’ll slow the private sales of firearms, which the government has historically stayed out of, in the name of public safety.

We know that it’s not really for public safety. It’s to slow the overall distribution of firearms throughout America. It’s long been clear that the Second Amendment is an inconvenient roadblock to the Left—they’d rather that we be disarmed and rely entirely on the police and federal law enforcement for our safety—even as they defund the police and direct federal law enforcement away from crime prevention and into targeting their enemies.

The reason for this is simple, and I’ve written about it before—authoritarians fear an armed populace. It’s much simpler to erode liberty and impose restrictions when the people are disarmed—look at the difference between American COVID-19 lockdowns and, say, the lockdowns in Australia, where draconian rules saw citizens being pepper sprayed by police for not wearing a mask outdoors.

As the Left reaches further and further to control that which it doesn’t like, we must remember days like today—where, thirty-one years ago, the federal government did something that would “never happen in America”—and recall the words oft-credited to Thomas Jefferson:

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

We must rein in our institutions and stay vigilant lest they swell again—otherwise, we may see the scene repeated.