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.