A Different Set of Worries

More right-leaning protesters openly carrying firearms to presidential events has me worried, but not for the same reason as it worries those on the left.

I don’t know. When I look at the photograph to the right, taken by Scott Wong at the Arizona Republic, I think to myself: “Hmm. Nice AR-15.” There’s something elegant, even, about the extra mag in the back pocket of his suit pants. I like it. I’d be willing to bet, though, that liberals from one side of this country to the other look at this photo in a completely different way.

  1. Holy crap, he’s got a gun. No — he’s got TWO guns!
  2. Ohmigawd, that big assault rifle is evil. Like, it could accidentally go off and kill me from there.
  3. He must be a lunatic. Who wears a clean, pressed dress shirt to a political protest?
  4. Is that photograph overexposed? It looks almost like he’s black.

So, here’s the story: According to several news reports, including one from the Associated Press, about a dozen people were exercising their right to openly carry firearms in Arizona. This, of course, comes on the heels of another man spotted lawfully carrying a handgun openly in a thigh holster in New Hampshire. Chris Matthews, from MSNBC, embarrassed himself “covering” that one.

What the frenzied left needs to realize is that the people carrying firearms openly–or concealed with a lawful permit–are not the ones they, the Secret Service, or the president need to be worried about. The ones that I worry about (and I pray daily for the safety and security of the president and his family) are the ones that wouldn’t announce themselves, the ones who wouldn’t acquire the necessary permit before stuffing a pistol in their waistband.

Think about it. Did the shooters at Virginia Tech, at Columbine, at the Trolley Square Mall or that department store in Omaha bother to obtain the proper permits? Of course not. In fact, all of those mass shootings happened in so-called “Gun Free Zones,” places where law-abiding citizens are not permitted to carry firearms, openly or otherwise. I’m not an expert, but I would imagine that if the gentleman from Arizona with the AR-15 were visiting a professor at Virginia Tech on the day of that tragedy, Seung-Hui Cho would have either (a) decided to take a raincheck and push off his murderous rampage to another day and/or a more “soft” target, or (b) certainly not have gotten as far.

Nevertheless, back to the presidential event, a report from MSNBC brought with it a comment from Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke. It was predictable:

Bringing loaded firearms to any Presidential event endangers all in attendance. Even though our weak national and state gun laws may allow this dangerous behavior, we should use a little common sense. Individuals carrying loaded weapons at these events require constant attention from police and Secret Service officers, thus stretching their protective efforts even thinner. The possibility that these weapons might be grabbed or stolen or accidently [sic] mishandled increases the risks of serious injury or death to all in attendance.

The National Rifle Association and other ‘gun rights’ groups need to send a message about ‘gun responsibilities’ to their members and all gun owners. Loaded weapons at political forums endanger all involved, distract law enforcement, and end up stifling debate. Presidential protesters need to leave their firearms at home — no exceptions.”

I understand what he’s saying about the attention of the police and Secret Service, but I’m certain that if any one of those people were acting suspiciously, they would be questioned — just as someone acting suspiciously without a gun on his hip would be questioned. Heck, cellphone signals have been known to trigger improvised explosive devices . . . should we be worried about everyone with a Blackberry clutched between their thumb and forefingers? Of course not. Local authorities stated that there was no cause for serious concern; Helmke should just let law enforcement and the Secret Service do their jobs.

On the gun rights debate as a whole, the left simply cannot fathom that it takes a killer to kill. And, contrary to what Chris Matthews would like everyone to believe, we’re not all killers. The people lawfully carrying in the open, announcing to the whole world that for the sake of their personal safety or even to make a point about their constitutional rights they have decided to arm themselves, are likely the last ones law enforcement need to worry about.

Furthermore, every presidential event brings with it a veritable brigade of people armed with loaded firearms. In fact, the president is constantly surrounded by people with loaded weapons. They aren’t mishandled. They don’t go off accidentally. Why? Because they are handled by competent, responsible, professional Secret Service agents and law enforcement officers. No different than your average law abiding gun owner.

But that’s the fundamental difference between left and right. Those on the political left trust the government with their money, their safety, and their liberty; those on the right trust the government only to abscond with each. For the life of them, they cannot understand why we’re not all raving lunatics, and I worry that somebody out there might exploit that perception.

We can see, from special reports already run by ABC News and other news outlets, that those of us on the right are already being set up to take the blame should–God forbid–anything awful happen. Former President George W. Bush had an abysmal approval rating (far less, even, than Joe Biden’s IQ!), had books written and movies made about his assassination, and yet no such reports emerged. Such reports, however, have a chilling effect on free speech, and that’s why they’re put together.

That being said, those of us on the right must be conscious that our every move is being scrutinized and catalogued for future use, if necessary. It’s to be expected, considering the left’s penchant for stifling debate rather than addressing it. And it’s fine, because for the most part we’re good-hearted, God-fearing people who may not like this president, but respect the presidency. Nevertheless, I urge each and every one of you to be aware of your surroundings, to be in tune with the sentiments of those around you — not to “snitch,” but to spot someone masquarading as something they’re not.

At a health care town hall in Texas, an Obama supporter donned a white coat and pretended to be a doctor. My worry is that someone will open-carry a firearm and act a fool, thus maligning law abiding gun owners everywhere. Be conscious of that. The same goes if someone at an event is shouting hateful things. Be conscious of how we will be perceived, and act accordingly.

All in all, I hope you understand where I’m coming from. I want to see passion. I want to see awareness. I want to see reasoned arguments, and throngs of people getting involved. But I am acutely aware of the microscope we’re under, and I want to make sure that the efforts of all these concerned Americans are not undone by one yahoo that may or may not have been planted there by the left.

Incidentally, since we’re on the subject, if anybody is looking for the perfect gift to celebrate my graduation from law school next year, I have had my eyes on a Springfield 1911 long-slide as a congratulatory present to myself. Not practical, but there’s something about that firearm.

(I kid. It’ll be more rewarding if I’m able to purchase it myself some day.)



  1. Anonymous says:

    I don't want to sound stupid Jeff, but doesn't the Second Amendment give you or I all the permits necessary "own and bear arms?"

    JMO, but until the that clause of the Second Amendment is repealed, anything else is Un-Constitutional, and illegally imposed on us citizens!


    It does. In fact, in the Heller decision, Justice Scalia actually used Justice Ginsburg's own words in a 924(c) case–possession of firearm in furtherance of a drug crime–to justify "carrying" as part of the right to keep and bear arms.

    Believe it or not, however, the Second Amendment is not incorporated against the States. As I type this, I actually should be finishing a research paper I'm writing on incorporation as a natural consequence of Heller (but America's Right is a problem for a procrastinator like me).

    A state like Arizona has laws on the books allowing for the open carry of firearms, even absent a permit. Virginia, New Hampshire and other states are the same way. Yet others, though, allow for concealed carry only with a permit — but not all state permits are honored in other states.

    I could go on for days. But I really *really* need to get back to the paper.

    – Jeff

  3. Anonymous says:

    The 2A is my primary passion, but not to say other issues are less important. Regardless, this was a great commentary. Thank you.

    I have to add one additional comment and it comes after watching a CNN discussion about this very topic. It's predictable the left would assume the worst when they see a man with a firearm at an event like this. Yet, nothing happened. No injuries, no deaths, no accidental discharge, no threats, not even suspicious movement. The fact remains these respectful and polite gun owners actually ADDED TO the security instead of taking away from it. It is quite possible something bad didn't happen today because these armed citizens were openly carrying their firearms.


    Great point. And, listen, as a former liberal Democrat who only purchased his first firearm about four years ago, I understand the uneasiness around guns.

    They're taught that guns are evil, that children everywhere are finding them in shoeboxes and blowing their own heads off, that they're being wrested from the frail arms of grandmothers and used against them, when nobody wants to talk about the countless lives saved and families protected.

    So, I understand the effect that even the sight of a firearm has on liberals.

    Look at it this way — my wife's cousin has a 170-pound American bulldog named Pee Wee. Pee's head is about the size of a beach ball, and his body looks about the size of one of those hellhounds that guarded Zuul in Ghostbusters. He's friggin' huge.

    Now, I know that Pee Wee is about the sweetest dog around, that the biggest threat he presents is drowning someone in drool (when he licks you with his enormous tongue, it's like being slapped with a wet beach towel), but I can understand if someone who doesn't know him feels a bit threatened. I know that, if I were walking hand-in-hand with my daughter and Pee Wee was approaching, I'd pick up my kid and give the dog a wide berth.

    Most liberals don't know firearms. Heck, when I was working as a newspaper reporter, I remember being ignorant and doing a story on an accidental discharge at a bar (some flirty girl had reached inside a hunky officer's retention holster, and got her finger caught on the trigger). They don't just go off. But it doesn't matter.

    Anyway, I'm rambling (because I need to get to this dang paper). So, good night. And good luck.


    – Jeff, Procrastinator Extraordinaire

  5. Marc Ouellette - Ottawa, Canada says:

    Hi Jeff;

    I admit to feeling a bit conflicted here. You see, I am a Canadian reader of AR, and my wife is an American citizen. In Canada, our laws are different from the USA in that bearing arms is a privilege rather than a right. In fact, unless you have a license it is illegal to have -let alone carry on your person- a firearm over here. My wife, when she lived in the US, used to have her firearms license as well as a pistol similar to the one you have shown in your wish list.

    While the entire issue of firearms and the right to open carry does not apply here, there has been a marked increase in gun crimes in our major cities, especially Toronto, as a result of illegal handguns making their way into Canada and into the hands of street gangs and criminals, making for a very lopsided landscape, since the law-abiding merchants, of course, have no such guns to protect themselves. A wild rash of drive-by shootings has made the news of late, which in itself is enough to make me wonder at our country's approach to gun ownership. Personally I tend to think along your lines – gun ownership should be a right here too; that way, the playing field would finally be level, and businesses and individuals alike should have the means to defend themselves when threatened by some gun-toting hothead who's out for trouble.

  6. Courtney says:

    So basically, we need to profile – the way law enforcement investigators do to catch criminals. But in reverse – we have to think like them to anticipate how they will try to lay the "crazy" mantle on conservatives to "confirm" the right-wing extremist/terrorist theory.

    And I know what you mean about liberals fear of guns or weapons of any kind. My sister's in-laws are nuts that way. My parents got my nephew a bow and arrow and they completely flipped out. My Mom had to read them the riot act and they were just shocked – couldn't believe it.

    That's the thing about liberals – supposedly believe in freedom of choice – as long as they can force their choice on everyone else.

  7. Rix says:

    "Guns do not kill, people do." Oh gosh, I am so overdue for a range practice day. I swear, as soon as kids return to school…

    Enjoy this classic:

  8. Gail B says:

    Headline from Politico–
    More companies pull Beck ads: Wal-Mart, CVS, Best Buy

    Guess we'll be shopping at the dollar stores and Walgreen's, huh?!

    I'm really disappointed with Wal-Mart!

    BTW, I heard on The Clark Howard (Radio) Show that Walgreen's has virtually no over-rings on sale items. (At least in the state of Massachusetts), CVS has 60 percent over-rings. Management said that it was cheaper to pay the fines than to correct the errors. That's customers' money being taken for the wrong price when something is on sale!

    You won't believe the verify word:
    forni (Trying to tell us we're being screwed?)

  9. Rix says:

    Thanks for the update, Gail.

    Big business just follows the wishes of its customers. If there were a conservative grassroots movement worth the cost of electricity spent on its Internet rants, it couldd organize a counter-boycott and/or picketing of businesses in question. And I can predict the result: exact zero, at least in coastal states. So much for the "conservative majority" fairy tale…

  10. Lilly says:

    Does anyone think that maybe, just maybe besides protecting their/our rights, they're a bit worried about the bussed in thugs of the left? Seems there's a lot of them that have been physically attacking peaceful protesters lately. Maybe he just didn't want to be their next victim. Don't think they would mess with a person carrying a gun! As my new shirt states – Gun owner or Victim – Pick one!

  11. Ian Thorpe says:

    As it happens my sister blogged on the hazards of carrying concealed weapons today – paying particularr attention to the risks involved when overweight prisoners conceal guns in the folds of flesh on their bodies.

    Secreting Weeapons On Your Person Can Be Dangerous

    We can only conclude that the staff of the UK Health and Safety Agency don't have enough work to fill their time.

  12. Anonymous says:

    1) way to waste government funds on "making a point." This was done already in New Hampshire; each time it's done subsequently the local/state/Secret Service forces must assign additional plain clothes officers, etc., to monitor people who find it necessary to carry assault rifles to public, civil meetings regarding policy.

    2) Poor little hypocrites: your treasured Reagan passed a bill BANNING the carrying of weapons in public in California. Oh wait, that's cuz it was the black panthers. Totally legit!

    Don't bother responding; it's going to be nothing but spin, qualification and nonsense. Just stuff it and keep taking guns to town halls so that's what shows up on cable T.V. when people protest health care reform….

  13. Anonymous says:

    Does that Secret Service funding take monies away from your precious welfare, unemployment and Medicaid?

  14. THEY LOOK SO CUTE says:

    Wow, those government funds could have been used to fly the WhiteHouse lovebirds out to dinner on Broadway again.

  15. TERRIBLY TAUT says:

    Wow, it seems that at this moment, this country is wound tighter than our beloved Speaker of the Houses face.


    "Don't bother responding"…. there's Barry on his blackberry again.

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