News 18 Investigates: Why is Jim Sanders walking on the street with a rifle?

Lafayette police say Jim Sanders can carry his rifle on city streets as long as he doesn't threaten anyone. (WLFI Photo)
Lafayette police say Jim Sanders can carry his rifle on city streets as long as he doesn't threaten anyone. (WLFI Photo)

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – A Mulberry man was back out near the intersection of Sagamore Parkway and South Street armed with a rifle Thursday.

It’s a story News 18 first brought you Tuesday night. We went back out again to learn more about Jim Sanders, his views and what he thinks the end result will be to his protest.

The sight that has raised thousands of eyebrows on one of Lafayette’s busiest intersections was back — Sanders walking with a cane in the street, armed with a rifle.

“I’m a man of principle. If I didn’t do it, I’m not going to admit to it. That’s it,” said Sanders.

Sanders is a 45-year-old Mulberry resident. He and his wife of more than 26 years have two children and three grandchildren.

He states his occupation is a minister. He said he and his wife started up a church in October which meets at several locations including the West Lafayette library.

He walks to protest a traffic stop in November where he was cited for several infractions. He fought the case in court himself, losing in April. Now he owes $943.50 before he can get his license back.

“I’m not willing to pay for something I didn’t do anymore. I’ve put out enough, given them enough, I’m going to do it anymore,” said Sanders.

He said he carries the gun for a different reason, to protect the valuables in his backpack.

He called ahead Thursday to get permission to walk through the drive-thru pharmacy. He walked part of the way from Mulberry, then a friend gave him a ride for the rest.

When asked if he recognizes the United States and the state of Indiana as valid institutions, he replied, “I recognize the republic of Indiana. I recognize the republic of the United States of America.”

So began the next 15 minutes of the conversation which was full of what most would consider conspiracy theories.

According to Sanders, the U.S. became a corporation in 1871 with the act of Congress that established Washington, D.C.

He also believes that legal documents like driver’s licenses and birth certificates should not use all capital letters.

“In all capital letters means a dead man,” said Sanders. “That’s what the dictionary says. Look up a law dictionary.”

But according to an online dictionary, the term he refers to, Capitis Diminutio, is a Roman legal term which refers to the Latin word for a person’s head and losing their legal rights, not capital letters.

“I do not consider myself a sovereign citizen. I call myself a sovereign man,” said Sanders.

That means that Sanders follows all so-called “lawful laws,” including the Constitution, but not statutes or codes.

When it comes to driving, as a sovereign man, he says it’s a right, not a privilege.

But when asked if it would be okay for a 5-year-old to drive, his answer was, “I don’t think the parents should allow a child to do that.”

When pressed on how a parent would have the right to tell a sovereign child what he or she could do, his answer was, “the parent is there.”

As for the sight at Sagamore and South, Sanders said his protest will end when police and the judge come to him with his license so he can go back to driving.

“I expect them to do that. Because they are wrong, not me. They are the ones who are wrong, not me. So, I’m not going to pay their extortionist fine,” Sanders said.

Sanders made a stop at the license branch today to conduct some business. He was unarmed.

However, the fact that he’s upset about losing his license was enough for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to have a security guard inside both the Lafayette and West Lafayette branches.

BMV Deputy Commissioner of Communications Josh Gillespie said the trip happened successfully without incident.

But for the time being, for the safety of both the employees and customers, there will continue to be a security presence at both locations.

“We just feel that, at least for the time being, we want to make sure that there are proper security measures just in case. It’s not every day that you see an individual walking down the street carrying an automatic weapon and talking about his beef with a government agency,” said Gillespie.

Gillespie said the BMV just follows the order of the court. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language, off topic, or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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