Gun-wielding protestors

There have been two recent public events, attended by President Obama, that included protestors showing up with firearms strapped to them. Last week in New Hampshire, a man had a pistol visibly strapped to the outside of his thigh. On Monday, a man in Arizona had an assault rifle slung over his shoulder, a pistol holstered on his hip, and a bullet clip in his back pocket.

From the headlines, you’d think our president was about to be assassinated.

The reality is much more tame: in both states, it is legal to carry unconcealed firearms in public. These men were demonstrating their right to bear arms in compliance with state and local laws. And because they stayed outside of the actual buildings that the president was in, they avoided carrying firearms inside a “federal site” (as any venue containing the president is automatically considered to be) and thus didn’t break any laws.

I have two thoughts on this… First, I’m annoyed that CNN.com deliberately worded headlines on its homepage to imply that someone was bringing a gun to attack the president. I’m sure that was scandalous enough to get a lot of click-throughs, but the headline on the most recent article (once you get to the page itself) more accurately said, “Man carries assault rifle to Obama protest — and it’s legal” instead. While I appreciate the candor on the article page, I give a resounding “tsk, tsk!” for the sensationalist headline that lured us there.

As for the larger issue, though — carrying weapons in public, especially at a public political event — I may surprise some friends when I say: HELL YES! I think people who aren’t convicted felons, are mentally coherent (not under the negative influence of drugs or alcohol, not clinically incapable of being responsible for their actions, etc), and in theory know how to safely carry firearms should be allowed to do so.

Obviously I don’t support those same people deliberately threatening people with said firearms, and certainly think they need to go to jail if they use those firearms in the commission of a crime. But peaceably carrying the weapon on their person, in a visible (unconcealed) place so you know you’re interacting with someone who is armed, and kept in a safe manner that isn’t likely to accidentally discharge, is perfectly acceptable in my book. And more importantly, it’s perfectly acceptable in the U.S. Constitution.

Some of my liberal friends and readers may have strong feelings on gun control, and to a degree I support the principles behind those views — ownership of deadly weapons should be easily tracked by law enforcement, shouldn’t be permitted by those who pose an inordinate danger to themselves or others with them (felons, the legally insane, and so on), and should be subject to reasonable measures designed to prevent rash purchases in the height of passion (waiting periods, etc).

Having said all of that, though, I believe that a person who is legally entitled to own a weapon should be able to possess it in a safe, visible manner on his/her person under ordinary circumstances.

But enough about what I believe — what do YOU think about gun control and unconcealed weapons in public? Reply below.

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19 Responses to Gun-wielding protestors

  1. Erin says:

    This i just idiotic. I read this over the weekend and thought how different the story would have been if it had been Bush.

  2. Eva says:

    When a dude shows up to a political event with a visible firearm, he’s letting it speak words he doesn’t have the balls to voice himself. Just another expression of good American Christian morals, I’m sure…

  3. John says:

    It’s media hype. I assure you that the protestors were NO where near the President. Anytime the President speaks publicly the secret service locks down the area including posting snipers, many of them. They are just people who think they will lose there gun rights. I applaud them for exercising their rights, more people should. Agree or disagree it’s what makes this country great. pro-gun=Christianity? interesting.

  4. Eric says:

    Jefferson should be your guide on this and he was the first democrat…

  5. Eric says:

    sorry Kev but the constitution can never be compromised no matter what and i voted Obama and he is weak… we do the left go so far right when they run fir a top position?

  6. Joey says:

    Obama had it right on the campaign trail when he said these folks are bitter and that they cling to guns and religion. That is most definitely not the way forward. The gun-toting Republicans and Christian fundamentalists are like an anchor weighing the country down, without a care in the world that the country is drowning.

  7. John says:

    why do people tie things together so much? i’m pretty sure there’s a gun totin’ democrat or two out there…you can’t have democracy without the right to bear arms…period.

  8. Eric says:

    i am gun totin democrat

  9. John says:

    I get the impression you [gatoruptown] aren’t for concealed weapons though. Where do you stand on that? As for waiting periods I’m 100% in favor, but I’m kind of on the fence about registration. Afterall, if the government WAS to take our guns, that’s how they would find them and they would do it quick before people had a chance to organize.

  10. gatoruptown says:

    John, I’m fine with concealed weapons — but I support the idea of a concealed weapons permit that requires you to take a course, etc. I’d like to know that if someone is legally carrying concealed weapons, they’ve had an appropriate background check, have demonstrated that they’re capable of carrying it safely, etc.

    As for registration, I’m a fan. Firearms are deadly weapons, and the primary purpose in this day and age is to cause (or at least threaten) lethal harm to another human being… especially in modern urban cities, where there isn’t exactly a lot of wildlife to go hunting.

    So yes, I believe firearms should be registered, and I’m not the least bit worried about the government coming to take our guns. Maybe I’m being naive, but there are some core fundamental (and Constitutional) principles that I just don’t think the government could get away with in the 21st century.

    Unless you’re an enemy combatant, of course.

  11. Joey says:

    Discussion of gun control is about as frustrating as discussion of abortion or gay rights – logic and reason rarely prevail and there seems to be no middle ground. I don’t believe for a second that the folks bringing guns to these events were doing so in an “unthreatening” manner – they intended to provoke these sensational headlines, in part to send a message to the president and to those who might dare to suggest that their precious “right to bear arms” be limited. In any argument, firepower outweighs brainpower, I guess — I certainly don’t argue with gun owners when they’re clinging to their guns. 🙂

  12. gatoruptown says:

    Joey, I agree up to a point — these are often arguments that nobody can win. In fact, I started to reply in here, but it seemed like good material for another blog entry instead. Click here if you’d like to check it out: https://gatoruptown.com/2009/08/20/emotional-debates/

    As for the protestors bringing guns to “threaten” people… I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. Do I think they were trying to be sensational to get public attention? Absolutely. Do I think they wanted people to notice them, stop and be surprised about it, and have their thought process be provoked? Of course.

    But I don’t assume they were deliberately trying to make someone think they were in physical danger by being at the rally. And I certainly don’t think they were trying to say “Look Mr. President, I have a gun and can shoot you.” Even stupid people (and I’m not suggesting anyone carrying a gun — or even anyone conservative-leaning or Republican — is stupid) would have to realize that the Secret Service was all over them and would kill them instantly if they SNEEZED wrong with an assault rifle strapped to their backs.

    And yes Joey, one-on-one, firepower outweighs brainpower… but fortunately in a civilization like ours, the brainpower will band together and outnumber the firepower when things develop to a large enough scale. Yes the mugger with a handgun may outmaneuver the unarmed genius in a dark ally, but too many muggers will bring the combined wrath of “society” down on them and things will change for the better.

    Man, for a cynic I’m sometimes pretty optimistic.

  13. […] my blog entries (and this one has nothing to do with local theatre, for a change!) On the topic of armed protestors at political events, several of my friends have gotten up in arms (so to speak) about their views on gun control and […]

  14. Will says:

    The gun-wielding citizen was at a sanctioned protest and that article or a follow-up article clearly stated that when then president is around, you are considered to be on federal property and the right to bear arms is out the window. No one with a gun would be allowed around if the president was there.

    Great blog, GatorUptown.

  15. Anthony says:

    I’m a gun-owning liberal as well. I believe there should be a reasonable amount of background-checking and paperwork to own a firearm. I’m also leaning toward being in favor of open-carry and concealed carry. Both should have more stringent requirements relative to regular ownership.
    The armed protesters were a stunt however. One at least was a militia type of wingnut, that had been suspected of conspiracy and weapons violations. They’re fringe. Any reasonable person knows that at the very least it’s in bad taste to bring a weapon to an event associated with the president.
    I’m not worried about Obama taking my guns. I bought all the guns that I own at stores, so I’m effectively registered already – they’re required to keep those records in case the gov’t wants to see them.

  16. Joey says:

    Great discussion — now let’s move on to abortion and gay rights!

  17. gatoruptown says:

    Joey, see my new discussion entitled “emotional debates” 🙂

  18. Trent (Benny) says:

    My gun rights views can best be described by this youtube video.

    He makes an extremely good point about the things that really allow us to keep our freedoms.

  19. gatoruptown says:

    Trent, thanks for the comment! Very interesting video.

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