Ron Paul: When People 'Stand Up,' Government Will 'Back Down'

By Susan Jones | April 15, 2014 | 8:34 AM EDT

The Bundy family and their supporters fly the American flag as the Bureau of Land Management released their cattle onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nev. on April 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Jason Bean)

( - What happened at a Nevada cattle ranch in recent days could be a sign of things to come, says former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

"I'm hoping this is very positive of things to come, where the people stand up and object to the federal government's intrusion into our lives and everything that we do. And when the people do get together and stand up, I think governments will be forced to back down.

"But the other thing is, is governments don't give up their power easily, and they may well come back with a lot more force, like they did at Waco with the Davidians. So I don't know which way it's going, but so far so good."

Paul said he's glad the Bureau of Land Management ended the confrontation with a cattle rancher before shots were fired on either side: "I really encourage the demonstration against unfairness by our government. But I would like to see it all nonviolent," Paul told Fox News's Neil Cavuto on Monday.

This particular dispute over range-land rights in Nevada dates back decades. The Bundy family has operated a ranch near the Utah line for more than 100 years and does not recognize federal authority over land that the family says belongs to the State of Nevada.

The federal government accuses the Bundy family of trespassing and says they owe more than a million dollars in grazing fees. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management recently started confiscating the Bundy's 900 cattle, a move that drew armed protestors and state's rights advocates to the ranch.

Over the weekend, the BLM ended the standoff, leaving the area to avoid potential violence, and releasing 400 of the cattle it had already seized.

According to Ron Paul, the Bundy family "had virtual ownership of that land because they had been using it. And it was conceded that the family had a right to use it."

Paul said land matters should be handled by the states: "And I think the states should sell it to the people." He said the federal government needs to "get out of it. And I think that's the important point," he added.

Speaking at a young Democrats' event in his home state of Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters the standoff at the Bundy ranch isn't over.

"I have been very clear in saying this thing is not over, OK?" Reid was quoted as saying as he left the meeting. "It's not over. You can't have someone violate the law. I have said that many times."

(The Associated Press contributed some of the information used in this report.)