Saturday, August 22, 2009

David Sirota on Guns at Public Political Events has published an article by David Sirota on the recent events of people carrying guns at the political rallies.

Those of us living in the Rocky Mountains are steeped in America's famous gun culture - and we therefore know well the binary debates surrounding the Second Amendment. Firearm enthusiasts - the vast majority of whom use weapons responsibly - believe the Constitution protects their right to bear arms. Gun control advocates counter that the Constitution doesn't give anyone the inalienable right to wield automatic weapons that can kill scores of people in seconds.

This is the stultified freedom-versus-safety quarrel that seemed to forever define gun politics - that is, until anti-government activists started bringing firearms to public political meetings.

Sirota goes on to describe what we've all seen over the last days. He mentioned the New Hampshire man who wore a sidearm and carried a sign reading, "It is time to water the tree of liberty," and of course he described the man in Phoenix carrying an AR-15. The conclusion, I found very interesting.

These and other similar examples are accurately summarized with the same language federal law employs to describe domestic terrorism. The weapons-brandishing displays are "intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population." Yes, the gun has been transformed from a sport and self-defense device into a tool of mass bullying. Like the noose in the Jim Crow South, its symbolic message is clear: If you dare engage in the democratic process, you risk bodily harm.

What do you think about that? I must admit, the "bullying" idea often comes to my mind. It's fascinating to consider that people who are motivated by paranoia, fear and insecurity conceal those characteristics and become intimidators themselves.

His conclusion is what a lot of people have concluded but have been reluctant to say. Everyone knows "firearm-free zones" is another way of saying "banned."

One option is willful ignorance: We can pretend the ferment is unimportant, continue allowing the intimidation and ultimately usher in a dark future where "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

Better, though, is simply making public political events firearm-free zones, just like schools and stadiums. That way forward honors our democratic ideals by declaring that politics may be war, but in America it is "war without bloodshed" - and without the threat of bloodshed.

What's your opinion? Do you think there's an element of "bullying" in the open carry of firearms? What about the "threat of bloodshed," do firearms inherently carry that? I think they do. Aren't partial bans and other local restrictions allowed under the DC vs Heller decision?

Please leave a comment.


  1. All kinds of things can "intimidate" people. Certain clothing, certain skin colors, or guns.

    No one was waving the guns or pointing them at anyone. So this notion that the guns were being used to intimidate people doesn't work. Some people may have felt intimidated, but that's their personal problem.

  2. These morons (yes, they are morons) need to look up the definition of the word "brandishing."

    In the real world words have actual meanings.

  3. Mike W., Good point, there was no brandishing.

    AztecRed, I say normal people can be intimidated by the sight of a gun. That doesn't make them subject to "personal problems" like people who are intimidated by skin color. That's a normal reaction, right or wrong, and you should be sensitive to it, as a responsible gun owner.

  4. MikeB,

    I'm 6'2" and over 200#. People have said they are intimidated by my mere presence.

    Should I not be allowed to go to meetings? Out in Public?

    People have said they are intimidated by my GMC Jimmy SUV, should I be forced not to drive it?

    The reaction other people have to an object or a person is there problem, UNLESS that object or that person is behaving in an intimidating manner.

    I know people who are scared of Clowns, do we shut down Ringling Brothers?

    Where do we draw the line at the mythical right to be free from fear?

  5. How can the mere sight of a gun intimidate anyone if it is just slung or holstered? I say that is not normal but that the individual suffers from hoplophobia. Do these same people jump up and run in terror when they see a gun on TV or when they see a cop?

    No Mike, "normal" people do not feel anything including intimidation around an inanimate object. If that gun is in the hands of a criminal and they are pointing it around threatening people, that is a different and not "normal" situation. But just seeing a holstered firearm should not generate any panic, intimidation or other pants-wetting from liberals.

    As far as the carrying of guns to political events, in the case of the famed New Hampshire incident, the man carries his firearm like that around town all of the time. Why then should he be required to abandon that legal activity when exercising his 1st Amendment right to assemble?

    If you create political activity bans for firearms such as around schools, then what constitutes a political activity? Do three people talking politics on a street corner become a political activity? If a candidate goes door to door campaigning, does each house he calls on become a political gun free zone while the candidate is there?

  6. FatWhiteMan asked, "How can the mere sight of a gun intimidate anyone if it is just slung or holstered?"

    How about this? A normal American, not steeped in the gun culture, like you are, sees a guy with a gun on his hip. This normal American reads the papers and watches the news. Isn't it a natural question for them to ask themselves, "is this one of those nuts?" Now, in the very moment of having the thought, and checking out the guy's appearance and comportment, wouldn't it be normal for this normal American to be anxious, nervous or intimidated?

    Please tell me you can see that. I'm not saying it's the right reaction, I'm just saying it's there and it's perfectly understandable.