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.
- Holy crap, he’s got a gun. No — he’s got TWO guns!
- Ohmigawd, that big assault rifle is evil. Like, it could accidentally go off and kill me from there.
- He must be a lunatic. Who wears a clean, pressed dress shirt to a political protest?
- 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.
(I kid. It’ll be more rewarding if I’m able to purchase it myself some day.)