Date of Award

Fall 2018

Degree Type




Director of Thesis

Mathieu Deflem

First Reader

Stephen Chicoine

Second Reader

Stephen Chicoine


The Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995 was a watershed moment in American history and indelibly changed the way Americans viewed terrorism and public safety. While the effects of the bombing are well-documented, not as much attention has been paid to the motivations of the bomber, Timothy McVeigh. He was spurred to action by the events of the Waco siege, where the FBI engaged in a 51-day standoff with the Branch Davidians, a small religious group suspected of owning illegal weapons. However, this was not the first incident that inspired his later actions. In 1992, the Weaver family entered into their own standoff against federal agents, after Randy Weaver failed to show up to court on illegal weapons charges. Over the course of the standoff, his wife, Vicki Weaver, and twelve-year-old son Samuel were killed. Both Waco and Ruby Ridge galvanized the far right, who saw it as the government using deadly force against their own citizens, who merely wished to live their lives as they saw fit. McVeigh was further influenced by The Turner Diaries, a novel in which the protagonist blows up a government building as a part of a revolution against the government. These three factors are analyzed in regards to the influence they had on McVeigh’s decision to attack the Murrah building.

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© 2018, Allison Reese