At the risk of dragging this out any further, the story about the FCC warnings to hams deserves a proper ending. Though the story is far from over, and I wouldn’t call this a “happy ending”, I’ve dug around enough to have arrived at a conclusion that satifies me.
I believe ham radio is (so far) an un-indicted coconspirator in the January 2021 Capitol riot and that’s why the FCC has warned us multiple times to not use radios to facilitate criminal activity.
Why do I Believe That?
In the criminal indictment of the self-proclaimed “Chairman” of the “Proud Boys” the use of transceivers capable of operating on amateur radio frequencies is specifically detailed:
“Arrangements were made to program and distribute multiple Baofeng radios for use by Proud Boys members to communicate during the event”.
The manufacturer is unimportant especially given that these can be purchased by anyone (with or without a license) on Amazon. Alone this isn’t sufficient evidence that amateur radio was involved in the event. But the radios were programmed to make use of local area FM repeaters during the operation. Someone would require knowledge of those frequencies, offsets, and required tones.
And while that information isn’t particularly difficult to obtain, it’s significant when you also consider that just ten days earlier this same indicted person had posted this on Parler:
“Anyone looking to help us with safety/protective gear, or communications equipment it would be much appreciated, things have gotten more dangerous for us this past year, anything helps.”
Asking for help with communications equipment on December 27th and then arriving a few days later in Washington DC with handheld transceivers, programmed for use with local repeaters, is all I need to conclude that some or multiple hams were “in on it”.
Who Answered That Call?
When asked for communications equipment “help” via social media I’d really like to know who answered that call because I’m certain one or more of “us” did.
And another thing…
Looking into all this has convinced me of something else; in the the context of amateur radio, “Prepper” is synonymous with “right-wing extremist”.
About a decade ago preppers became interested in ham radio in sizable numbers and the unchecked zeal of amateur radio recruiters set about getting them all licensed, you know, to boost our numbers and show the amateur service to be growing.
Now I can’t look at any hobby-related advertisement for equipment without seeing military-styled transceivers, kits built-in ammo boxes, camo painted hardware, and a deep reservoir of YouTube videos produced by licensed hams specifically crafted to assist the prepper community about how to use their radios.
Have we gone from just playing army to becoming one without even realizing it? The foxes may already be in the hen-house. At what point do we stop calling it “Ham Radio” and begin calling it “Militia Radio”?
Yeah, I know, that’s probably an over-reaction. That’s my problem, not yours. At least not yet.