On February 28, 1993, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms conducted a military assault of the living quarters of the Branch Davidians, a small Christian church once associated with the Seventh-Day Adventists. After a fifty-one-day siege, the Davidians' home burned, killing more than eighty men, women and children.
ATF used some valid concerns to further their agenda of increasing their budget and disarming American citizens.
Instead of peacably serving a search warrant, the ATF lied in order to get military support, then attacked the Davidians with overwhelming firepower, leaving the Davidians no option but to defend themselves or be killed.
During the long siege, the FBI cut off utilities, blared recordings of rabbits being slaughtered, refused to allow family members to talk with the Davidians, and otherwise confirmed the Davidian's view that the federal government meant to kill them.
The FBI pumped an inflammable gas into a building lit with kerosene lanterns, then knocked down walls and blocked exits.
The press were kept away from the scene; the building was immediately demolished; key evidence disappeared; several feet of topsoil was removed from the site.
Despite dirty tricks by the prosecution, a jury found that surviving Davidians acted in self-defense and were as such innocent of murder and conspiracy to murder. Six Davidians are appealing convictions on lesser charges.
Seeing federal agents abuse their authority with impunity, average Americans began to fear their government. Both the House and Senate held hearings on the Waco incident. Imprisoned Davidians appealed their sentences.
In 1999, the tide began turn against the federal government, as long-suppressed evidence came to light. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the lengthy prison sentences given to the Davidians, who were resentenced and set free by 2007.
To reduce the situations that made Waco likely, federal police should be prohibited from carrying weapons, instead being confined to an investigative role, and relying on local law enforcement for searches and arrests.