The Militia of Montana would have you believe it condemns terrorism. The group's leaders say they are appalled at the Oklahoma City bombing, and they have encouraged other militia members to contact authorities if they have information about the explosion.
They have even advertised the telephone number of the FBI's tip hot line.
Most of the year, however, the Militia of Montana peddles another another line.
Just send for its catalog, with the cover of a sniper perched in a tree.
This 12-page pamphlet offers a variety of material for the everyday militia man or woman, from the primer on how to activate your own unorganized citizen militia to training manuals on "unconventional warfare devices and techniques" and "sniper training and employment."
"We, at the Militia of Montana, are dedicated to spreading the word, making sure that all members of the unorganized Militias of several States are well informed and well prepared in the event of a catastrophe, military coupe, or a flat invasion upon our States united," says the catalog's Statement of Purpose. "We must at all cost, keep reaching those who do not know where to turn."
Within days of the Oklahoma City bombing, the Militia of Montana (known as M.O.M.) quickly put out a press release. M.O.M. is one of the most visible of the nation's militia groups, but its leaders say it does not provide military training.
"The Militia Of Montana is not only appalled at this act against 'America' but is also appalled that not only law enforcement but also some in the media would attempt to implicate American Citizens [militia sympathizers] who are concerned about American's future with this tragedy."
But those are the same "American Citizens" to whom M.O.M. offers videotapes warning about an alleged federal conspiracy to create a "New World Order." The videotapes explain the War and Emergency Powers Act and provide instruction on survival packs, combat harnesses, and other information aimed at resisting the alleged conspiracy. Also for sale are video manifestoes from "Mark from Michigan," alias Mark Koernke, the right-wing shortwave radio broadcaster and militia sympathizer-instigator who recently lost his talk show because of his extremist views.
For the pro-militia musician, an audio tape that sells for $10 features songs like "The Federal Reserve isn't federal at all," "Watch out for martial law" and "Leave our guns alone."
For the futurists, the group has a videotape titled "New World Order -- Take Over of America" (2 hours, $15). The catalog says the tape covers subjects such as "who really runs our country -- concentration camps -- loss of property -- state takeover -- people control -- court system -- drug and crime bills -- 6 major corporations to run the world plus many more topics."
For the fashion-conscious, the militia hats for sale exclaim "Enough is Enough," the sweat shirts warn "God, Guts and Guns Keep Us Free," and T-shirts maintain that "The Second Amendment Isn't About Hunting or Target Shooting. . . . It's about Freedom."
In tiny print, at the beginning of M.O.M.'s catalog are the words: "we are everywhere." The items in the catalog have brought some unwanted attention to the year-old militia, operated by brothers Dave and John Trochmann, although the catalog carries a disclaimer that says M.O.M. makes "no claim as to the accuracy, truth, motives and/or philosophy's advocated" in any of the material for sale.
While the catalog includes books on apparently innocuous topics such as primitive wilderness living and medicinal plants, it also offers a $75 binder of 14 military training manuals. This 617-page collection discusses weapons and gear, hand-to-hand combat, guerrilla war and techniques, espionage and sabotage, even "dirty tricks." The more discriminating buyer can choose single volumes on some of the same subjects.
The M.O.M. now says it plans to stop selling some of the manuals.
Asked how the militia reconciles its professed opposition to terrorism and the military training manuals it sells, spokesman Dave Trochmann replied that the militia "always is supposed to be defensive in nature."
"The military manuals all have that in mind. What we sell is what the U.S. government has released from the military," said the 49-year-old Mr. Trochmann. "You can go into the libraries and find it. What we are is an informational gathering and clearing house. It's just that simple. We don't go out and train or nothing."
Mr. Trochmann says the catalog's No. 1 seller has nothing to do with armed combat. It is the "Citizen's Constitution."
"People have the wrong outlook of most of the Patriots in this country," said Mr. Trochmann, whose business accepts only cash or money orders and sends out orders by priority mail. "They are concerned citizens who are trying to help."
The video most in demand? "Invasion and Betrayal," tape No. 007, he said.
"Documentation of just what our government is doing to us," Mr. Trochmann told a reporter. "It's all from congressmen, the United Nations, it's from press people. You should throw a $20 bill in the mail and send it to M.O.M. and then you'll know what you're writing about."
Ann LoLordo is a reporter assigned to the national desk of The Baltimore Sun.