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Guns and Poses?? Welcome to the Jungle....
August 20, 2009 9:28 AM   Subscribe

The Second Amendment of the Constitution of United States of America gives us all the right to bear arms. It means that as Americans we can keep fire arms without governmental infringement. A few days ago many Americans chose to exercise this right at political Town Hall meetings on health care reform throughout the United States. Some are defending these actions. Others are not. The NRA is remaining quiet.
posted by Mastercheddaar (255 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
So the summary would be that it's legal, but it makes you rude and a fucking idiot?
posted by Artw at 9:30 AM on August 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


"If they have the right to do that, I have no fear of it."

Um, what? Why? What part of your brain does the 2nd ammendment turn off that makes lunatics with guns not scarey?
posted by Artw at 9:32 AM on August 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


It means that as Americans we can keep fire arms without governmental infringement.

History and law indicates otherwise, at least to those of us who are conversant with reality.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:32 AM on August 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


This has been so weird for me. Most of my friends who agree with me on political issues are avidly in favor of gun control, where as I'm well... a gun nut -hangs head-. They are outraged at this man being able to even OWN this gun, let alone carry it in public. And it is just about all I can do not to say, "Yes, but the only reason I'm not carrying my gun at the moment is that my concealed carry permit isn't valid on state university property, and I respect that law."
posted by strixus at 9:33 AM on August 20, 2009 [10 favorites]


What I don't get is why the guns-at-presidential-appearances thing is not the legal equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded theater. I'd appreciate someone explaining this.
posted by scratch at 9:34 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


it's a bit more than just carrying a legal weapon though, innit? they're making poorly veiled threats to the president, and i'm pretty sure that isn't ok.

oh boy, this thread is going to go well
posted by Think_Long at 9:36 AM on August 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


The Second Amendment of the Constitution of United States of America gives us all the right to bear arms. It means that as Americans we can keep fire arms without governmental infringement.

What the Second Amendment exactly means in terms of how much governmental oversight of firearms is allowed is more fuzzy than that. Here's what the Supreme Court said in their decision in the only case where a law was struck down on Second Amendment grounds:

[l]ike most rights, the Second Amendment is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose." The Court's opinion, although refraining from an exhaustive analysis of the full scope of the right, "should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:37 AM on August 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


I will never cease being amazed at the number of putative adults in this country who continue to try to live out their 12-year-old-boy fantasies of being a cowboy.
posted by dersins at 9:38 AM on August 20, 2009 [22 favorites]


Fuck it. It's legal for me to fart in their faces, so I know what I'll be doing at the next town hall meeting 'round these parts.
posted by item at 9:38 AM on August 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


Seems like the equivalent of sitting around on a nude beach with a hard-on.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:39 AM on August 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Wouldn't it be neat if throngs of cancer victims started gathering outside gun-nut meetings?
posted by swift at 9:39 AM on August 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


According to a transcript posted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Gingrey said: "If they have the right to do that, I have no fear of it. And I’ve had already five town hall meetings, I have six more planned. I don’t plan on wearing a bulletproof vest, in fact, I usually get standing ovations."

The moral is: There's no reason to be afraid of gun-bearing constituents at town hall meetings. As long as you tell 'em what they want to hear.
posted by leftcoastbob at 9:40 AM on August 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Much as I am in favor of the 2nd, I do not defend these actions. Jackasses.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:41 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


It would be pretty cool if the people with cancer were packing heat. I say this as an avid gun-control nut.
posted by Mister_A at 9:41 AM on August 20, 2009


There was a related article on the moderate conservative blog New Majority:
Nobody has been hurt so far. We can all hope that nobody will be. But firearms and politics never mix well. They mix especially badly with a third ingredient: the increasingly angry tone of incitement being heard from right-of-center broadcasters...

It’s not enough for conservatives to repudiate violence, as some are belatedly beginning to do. We have to tone down the militant and accusatory rhetoric.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:41 AM on August 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty gun-friendly for a lefty, but I think this is a terrible idea. I get the point they're trying to make, even if I don't agree with it, but I don't think they're trying to intimidate people. That said, tempers run so high at these things that introducing loaded AR-15s just makes it that much more likely that somebody's going to do something stupid and hurt or kill someone.
posted by EarBucket at 9:41 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't help but suspect that this will turn out really poorly for those in favor of gun ownership after the shooting murder that's inevitably going to occur.

Anyway, if gun ownership is a right then why aren't these 2nt amendment organizations giving out guns to poor people who can't afford them? If gun ownership is a right we should see to it that guns are widely available to all.

I suspect, though, that the pro-gun people really only want white people to have guns.
posted by fuq at 9:42 AM on August 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


In Georgia, even if you have a concealed carry license, it is illegal to have your gun in public gatherings like the townhall this guy took his gun to. I think it's illegal for a reason, and I think it's fine. I say this as someone who does not currently own guns but who also stands to inherit an arsenal from both my father in law and my own father. Bringing a gun to a public gathering like that is tantamount to saying, if I don't like what you say, lookee here, I can shoot you. Call me crazy, but I think the addition of firearms into what is supposed to be a public conversation is generally not an awesome thing.

The guy in the 2nd link there is clearly, to my mind, doing what he's doing to intimate that he can and will shoot someone, and it's fairly clear who that someone is. That guy is not defendable.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:42 AM on August 20, 2009 [15 favorites]


Strixus: why carry a concealed weapon? Does it make you feel safer? Are you genuinely scared of the world so much that you feel you need to have a weapon on you at all times? Or is it for some other reason? I've only ever heard concealed-carry proponents talk about how if something happened, they could 'handle it.' Is it about wanting to star in your own very-real action movie? Does it make you feel powerful? I'm sorry that these questions appear condescending, but I just don't understand the logic behind carrying a weapon unless you spend a prodigious amount of time in a place where gunfights happen with regularity and defending yourself would be a frequent occurrence like in Mogadishu versus a freak occurrence like in, say, here?
posted by incessant at 9:43 AM on August 20, 2009 [11 favorites]


There is a guy with a poster that says, "It is time to water the Tree of Liberty." Someone should ask him if he is a patriot, and if he says that he is, they should shoot him. I believe that's what he's asking for.
posted by ColdChef at 9:43 AM on August 20, 2009 [33 favorites]


Do we have a First Amendment right to wear an anti-Bush t-shirt to a Bush rally?

Not so much.
posted by jfrancis at 9:43 AM on August 20, 2009 [21 favorites]


Bear arms? I love bear arms! They're delicious! Mmmmmmm....bear arms...
posted by sexyrobot at 9:43 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Guns are tools. So are some people.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:43 AM on August 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


What point do you think they're trying to make bringing these weapons to a political rally? Serious question, not a troll. The point seems I get from it is, "if you don't do what I want you to do I will start killing people."
posted by Mister_A at 9:43 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wish I could bear arms against the title of this post.
posted by swift at 9:43 AM on August 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


I suspect, though, that the pro-gun people really only want white people to have guns.

Except that the first photo that surfaced a couple of days back of an assault rifle at a town hall meeting was of a black guy.
posted by item at 9:44 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also a gun friendly lefty here who would shoot to kill if you broke into my house.
But who wants to live in a world where people are walking around strapped?
Cowards, that's who.
posted by 2sheets at 9:45 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Shining laser pointers on these dudes would be the funnest game ever. And legal!
posted by Artw at 9:45 AM on August 20, 2009 [36 favorites]


I suspect, though, that the pro-gun people really only want white people to have guns.

or they're afraid of the un-white people who already have them.

and now I'm taking off my irrational generalization goggles.
posted by Think_Long at 9:46 AM on August 20, 2009


[l]ike most rights, the Second Amendment is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.

Uh oh. Anybody wanna buy an M1 Abrams on the quick? No reasonable offer refused.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:46 AM on August 20, 2009


I've never had an issue with carry permits, concealed and otherwise, and likewise I'm a full supporter of 2nd Amendment rights, but that's just a bad idea, and I can't believe that these people wouldn't still be in jail had they done it during a Presidential event featuring the previous administration.
posted by rhythim at 9:46 AM on August 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


bear arms

Gawd leave Michelle out of this!!
posted by Mister_A at 9:46 AM on August 20, 2009


Carrying a weapon to a public event—especially a political one—sounds an awful lot like an implicit threat to me.

Cowards.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 9:47 AM on August 20, 2009


What I don't understand is why the Secret Service hasn't cracked down hard on these people. Can someone explain that to me?
posted by overglow at 9:48 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]




Scenairo: gun-toting person at Presidental town hall meeting actually draws his weapon for some reason. He is dropped by five sniper bullets coming from five different directions, all fired by secret service members. Other people present in the crowd with guns begin to fire back, not knowing what had just happened for certain.

This is not unforeseeable. The people carrying guns to the rallies are doing so because they want to make a subtle threat toward the politicians that they disagree with.

And yet, people wearing anti-Bush t-shirts in 2004 were ARRESTED for doing so.

Something is really wrong. I fear for our future. I had hoped that the Challenger explosion was going to be my generation's equivalent of a Kennedy moment, but I no longer am sure that will remain the case.
posted by hippybear at 9:48 AM on August 20, 2009 [27 favorites]


Can we get a constitutional amendment banning the use of double question marks in post titles?? I keed.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:48 AM on August 20, 2009


The Second Amendment of the Constitution of United States of America gives us all the right to bear arms. It means that as Americans we can keep fire arms without governmental infringement.

because what we need right now is to have a sprawling and woefully unproductive debate over healthcare hijacked by the second amendment?

fuck intimidation -- bring your guns, expand the perimeter, and let's keep the debate focused on what's really at stake here.
posted by puckish at 9:48 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shining laser pointers on these dudes...

Uh, you go first, Art!
posted by Mister_A at 9:49 AM on August 20, 2009


I, too, am confused by this behavior. I know these guys are "at" the rallies, but are they allowed anywhere near the president? I mean, is there somebody with a loaded AR-15 and an ill-conceived grudge against the "Kenyan unconstitutionally occupying the White House" spending any time in the same building as Barack Obama? Outside, maybe, but not inside, right?

Also, is this a case of full-employment for snipers? I assume that there's a Secret Service guy on a roof somewhere with a bead on each one of these assholes. Please tell me I'm not being overly optimistic.

In my paranoid moments, this whole thing reminds me of the trial runs the 9/11 hijackers did: see what you can get away with at several different events before coordinating the strike. Ugh.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:49 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


My personal opinion is that Guns have one sole purpose and that is to kill things. They are used to hunt, defend ourselves, and our country. That should be their entire purpose. This right here when I saw it sent up the "WTF?" flag. The people at these meetings who are carrying loaded weapons might say they are exercising their rights but in reality they are using them to scare people away from exercising their rights of free speech. Who in their right mind is going to get into an argument with a person carrying an assault rifle? I'm sure people out there will and when these lizard brained patriots (me rolls eyes) learn that their scare tactics are not scaring anyone.... Well lets say it only takes one drunken, gun toting moron to pull a gun on someone for the fireworks to start. Bringing guns to heated political protests where both sides are yelling and screaming at one another is never a good idea. This will end badly.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 9:49 AM on August 20, 2009 [12 favorites]


I was just talking this morning to a friend of mine who is the Republican candidate for State Senate in my district. He was telling me how inspiring he finds it that these people are showing up at these meetings to express their outrage.

"We're having a meeting tonight at Joe's Tavern for the Citizens for Prosperity to discuss health care. You should come out and check it out. I'll be one of the speakers."

"Sounds great," I responded. "How will they like it when I shout at them while they try to talk?"

"Remember that most of us will have guns."
posted by flarbuse at 9:49 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Another good application of EatTheWeak's addendum to constitutional amendments.

...but seriously, don't be such a dick about it.
posted by Riki tiki at 9:49 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I had access to such things, I'd show up to one of these events with a police baton or nunchucks. Those are illegal and I'd probably get hauled off to jail but I think I'd be making a pretty decent point if I ended up getting arrested while the guy standing next to me with an assault rifle remained untouched by the law.
posted by billysumday at 9:49 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Interesting article in the NYT today about shopkeepers who shoot robbers and the aftermath they deal with. Spoiler: killing people, even when it's justified, takes a heavy toll on the shooter and many regret it.
posted by incessant at 9:51 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really don't understand the point. Are they trying to intimidate people? Or just draw attention away from the real issues and instead be like CONSTITUTION CONSTITUTION SEE DIS GUN DON'T MESS WITH THE CONSTITUTION

On preview, what Mister_A said.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 9:51 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The moral is: There's no reason to be afraid of gun-bearing constituents at town hall meetings. As long as you tell 'em what they want to hear.

*draws water pistol*

Smile when you say that, pardner.
posted by lysdexic at 9:52 AM on August 20, 2009




Or just open a beer.
posted by Artw at 9:52 AM on August 20, 2009


Mister_A: What point do you think they're trying to make bringing these weapons to a political rally? Serious question, not a troll. The point seems I get from it is, "if you don't do what I want you to do I will start killing people."

I can hardly claim to speak for those people, but my guess is that's not it. I think it's a more convoluted chain of reasoning that leads them to bring there guns. Something like this:

1. The gummint is trying to take over healthcare
2. This is a communist/nazi/fascist move
3. The gummint is now run by communists/nazis/fascists
4. Communists/nazis/fascists want to take away all our rights.
5. Especially my favorite, the right to bear arms.
6. I will show them that I will not tolerate having my right to bear arms taken away by showing up at healthcare discussions with my gun.
posted by adamrice at 9:53 AM on August 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


Can we get a constitutional amendment banning the use of double question marks in post titles?? I keed.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:48 AM on August 20 [+] [!]

Well if you want to debate it further we can meet for coffee. I'll bring my 9mm CZ and a mossburg 12 gauge :) It seems to be the fashion trend anymore to go to peaceful debates ready for war.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 9:54 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


What if you show up with your gun at the rally and you use it as a bong?
posted by Mister_A at 9:54 AM on August 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


What point do you think they're trying to make bringing these weapons to a political rally? Serious question, not a troll. The point seems I get from it is, "if you don't do what I want you to do I will start killing people."

they want the cops, or even better, the secret service to take them down so they can then scream "2nd amendment." plus, they have an very active fantasy life where they shoot black men, arabs and communists... and look here's three-in-one and he's even usurped the presidency... Wolverines!
posted by geos at 9:54 AM on August 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


What if you show up with your gun at the rally and you use it as a bong?

End the Drugs on War!
posted by joe lisboa at 9:55 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


In fact, I might even call it a show of force^. The writers of the Second Amendment may well have intended it to protect the people's ability to overthrow the government by force of arms (whether that's at all realistic today is another story), but if you're going to threaten to do that by walking armed into a political meeting, you should at least have the courage to make the threat explicit instead of blowing smoke about your rights.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 9:55 AM on August 20, 2009


joe, man, I would totally like to subscribe to your far-out newsletter, man.
posted by Mister_A at 9:56 AM on August 20, 2009


To those worrying about threats to the President, I again would like you to say hello to his little friend.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:56 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Chris Matthews interviews a gun-toting Town Hall attendee [video | 07:56].
posted by ericb at 9:56 AM on August 20, 2009


I am pretty Ok with this. As long as the secret service has enough snipers to keep a red dot on each of these guys' foreheads the whole time they're at the rally, and as long as they're shot dead the first time their hand goes anywhere near the trigger.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:56 AM on August 20, 2009


Fuck it, I'm taking a GAU-8 in a shopping trolly.
posted by Artw at 9:57 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Artw, you'd better make sure you have some pretty good brakes on that shopping cart to keep it from rolling back over you.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 9:58 AM on August 20, 2009


Chris Matthews interviews a gun-toting Town Hall attendee...
More on the man with the gun... William Kostric is a married man in his mid 30S who works in sales. He says he moved here to New Hampshire from Arizona about a year ago, because it's a "live free or die" state -- and he thought Arizona was becoming too restrictive with its gun laws.

He's passing out a bookmark that says, "Join the Second Amendment Revolution, the most exciting pro-liberty movement in over 200 years."

He's a Ron Paul supporter, who opposes just about everything Obama, including health care reform.

The local police say he is within his rights to carry a handgun openly under state law. He was carrying a 9-mm Smith and Wesson strapped to his lower leg.

Police say he's OK on a public sidewalk. Kostric says he has permission from a church just down the street from the high school to be on its private property.

He says he was approached by a "detective," possibly a Secret Service Agent, who told him he could be arrested within 1,000 feet of a school with a weapon under a federal law. Kostric moved back to private property.

When Obama arrived, the police had Kostric under surveillance. A local police captain said the Secret Service has been "in the loop."

Kostric has been about 50 to 75 yards from the entrance to the high school, since about 11:00 am ET, doing interviews and carrying a sign and his gun and police have had their eye on him. But as long as he's been "cooperative," they have watched, but let him be.*
posted by ericb at 9:59 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


And I can only hope that as the bullet passed through his brain, the guy would admire the shooting skill of the sniper, a man who actually carries a gun for a reason, and knows how to use it for something besides scaring women and children on the street.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:59 AM on August 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


I suspect, though, that the pro-gun people really only want white people to have guns.

Yes, everyone who likes guns is a racist. God job ferreting that one out.

I had hoped that the Challenger explosion was going to be my generation's equivalent of a Kennedy moment

I am honestly confused as to what this means and what bearing it has on this.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:00 AM on August 20, 2009


adamrice has it, pretty much exactly. Their point isn't "we're going to shoot people we don't agree with," it's "Obama is a fascist who wants to take away our guns, so we're going to show that we oppose him by carrying our guns, just like the Founding Fathers would have wanted us to." It's dumb, but it's internally consistent logic.
posted by EarBucket at 10:00 AM on August 20, 2009


Are firearms compatible with peaceful assembly?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:02 AM on August 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


So, that part in all of those movies, where one of the Secret Service guys yells "Gun!" and everyone hussles folks to the floor and out of the building....that's not true? How the hell can anyone tell the difference between an assassin and a "citizen exercising his rights?" I'm completely freaked out by these people bringing loaded weaponry out to public events. What makes them different than any other thug? Nothing.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:02 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know, it's also legal to own pitchforks and torches, chainsaws, baseball bats, lengths of chain, and so forth. Yet, bringing each and every one of these would be immediately called out for the implicit threat that they represent, and the bearer would be asked to surrender their non-weapon item or be escorted from the premises.

The Second Amendment of the Constitution of United States of America gives us all the right to bear arms.

Gives us the right. Not gives one. The right of the People, not the right of individual persons, to bear arms is what is enumerated in the Constitution. Somehow that clause about a "well-regulated militia" is conveniently ignored. The Second Amendment is about Massachusetts or Iowa's right to maintain a local militia to defend against tyranny, not for Chris Nolastname from New Hampshire to strap a loaded pistol to his thigh and walk around intimidating citizens.
posted by explosion at 10:03 AM on August 20, 2009 [10 favorites]


What I don't understand is why the Secret Service hasn't cracked down hard on these people. Can someone explain that to me?

That would just fuel the paranoid fire that TEH GUBBMINT IS TAKING AWAY MY RITES!!11!1!1eleventybillion.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:03 AM on August 20, 2009


Hey USA - What the fuck is up with the goddamn guns? The rest of the world doesn't get it.
posted by weezy at 10:03 AM on August 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


adamschneider: The Challenger explosion was a sudden bout of death which caused everyone to stop. Everyone who was alive and cognizant that day remembers where they were when they heard about it. The same was true of the Kennedy assassination.

The guns being carried to Presidential appearances are tacit threats against his life. This president has already gotten more death threats in his 8 months in office than the preceding officeholder did in his 8 years in office.

I am sure you can do the math from there.
posted by hippybear at 10:04 AM on August 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Their point isn't "we're going to shoot people we don't agree with," it's "Obama is a fascist who wants to take away our guns, so we're going to show that we oppose him by carrying our guns, just like the Founding Fathers would have wanted us to." It's dumb, but it's internally consistent logic.

I thought it was more along the lines of "if you try to take my gun, I will shoot you." People with fantasies of persecution shouldn't be allowed to carry around loaded weapons.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:04 AM on August 20, 2009


In Northern Ireland, way back in 1981, Ian Paisley held a protest where about 500 of his supporters gathered and waved their gun licenses in front of the cameras, with the implication that, if things didn't go their way, there was the potential for the armed response.

The actions of the people doing this in the US now make me think of that, only much more disturbing as it is happening in a country that isn't 12 years into an 'ethnic conflict'.
posted by knapah at 10:06 AM on August 20, 2009


"Rick Sanchez of CNN interviewed a retired Secret Service agent [video] today who lamented that the gun carriers distract the attention of the local police who could be better utilized by keeping their eyes peeled for higher level threats against the president. He opined that the presidential protection team might have to push back the perimeter around the events."*
posted by ericb at 10:06 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I always thought 9/11 was our Kennedy Assassination.
posted by item at 10:06 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Somehow that clause about a "well-regulated militia" is conveniently ignored.

For the folks who may have missed that.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:07 AM on August 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Item: Yeah, I don't know why that didn't come to mind. Maybe the scale is completely different in my mind. Or maybe I was trying not to draw a line between armed people at presidential appearances and "the terrorists."
posted by hippybear at 10:08 AM on August 20, 2009


lifted from Iron_Spike's twitter stream : Under Obamacare, your boy will marry a guy named Tyrone Washington and you won't have a gun to shoot him with!
posted by The Whelk at 10:09 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


anotherpanacea

I know these guys are "at" the rallies, but are they allowed anywhere near the president?

from the end of this article:

A venue is considered a federal site when the Secret Service is protecting the president, and weapons are not allowed on a federal site, he said.

In both instances, the men carrying weapons were outside the venues where Obama was speaking.


So it looks like they're allowed to have their guns outside the building, but not bring them within range of the POTUS. Seems like a reasonable enough compromise to me, really.
posted by Uncle Ira at 10:09 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


To paraphrase George Carlin:

If you're the kind of person who would carry a semi-automatic weapon to a peaceful assembly, you're the kind of person who shouldn't have a gun.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:09 AM on August 20, 2009 [21 favorites]


Anyway, mad props to the Secret Service and the administration for the measured and reasoned response to this insanity.
posted by Mister_A at 10:11 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


only much more disturbing as it is happening in a country that isn't 12 years into an 'ethnic conflict'.

I'd say it's been about, oh, 229 years or so.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:11 AM on August 20, 2009


Unrelated, but then again, maybe not: "In another minute, I was gonna take out my gun and take a couple of them out".

Spoiler - a gang of bicyclists assault a car and the driver for passing "too close" while they were taking up an entire traffic lane. Radio hosts are hailing his "restraint" in not shooting. I'm thinking he might have been overwhelmed, because he's saying that now.

I really wonder about the folks showing up with assault rifles. Do they expect a deer rampage or something? Evil sheep? Where were they when the authorities were closing in on protesters in Seattle?
posted by lysdexic at 10:11 AM on August 20, 2009


Obama is defending their right to carry the weapons in the protest area outside the event. As well he should--he can't look afraid at the legal display of these weapons. He's smart enough to let the press and the public draw their own conclusions at all of this.

These people, pardon the pun, will shoot themselves in the foot soon enough.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:12 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


On the one hand, I do support the right of citizens to form militias and address the government as such (using militias broadly here). It's kind of disappointing that so few liberals are willing to strap up and appear in public.

On the other hand, one of the best things that could happen for health care is for one of these armed idiots to get a shot off that comes anywhere near the president (obviously the ideal is to have it hit no one), because damn, it'd be so easy to round these morons up and have every conservative who kinda sorta almost wink wink endorses this bullshit have to backpedal like a fixie in reverse—it'd be a field day for liberals to reframe the debate and would clearly demonstrate how unreasonable the opposition is. Americans like to flirt with popular force but have very little actual stomach for it. I mean, it'd shift the Overton window so fast that Glenn Beck might be off the air the day after it happened.
posted by klangklangston at 10:12 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, I think most gun owners, especially those who carry concealed, think those who open-carry are fools.
posted by meowzilla at 10:12 AM on August 20, 2009


A little resonance, maybe?
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:12 AM on August 20, 2009


I am sure you can do the math from there.

Well, show your work, because I don't get it either.

Sorry, hippybear, but the assassination of an idealistic president and a failure of technology just aren't comparable rallying points.
posted by sageleaf at 10:13 AM on August 20, 2009


sageleaf, he meant, "that shared moment in the nation's life that we all remember–remember where we were, who we were with, what we were doing, how we heard the news."
posted by Mister_A at 10:15 AM on August 20, 2009


What I find most amusing about this is the breathless omg ppl brought guns coverage. To be perfectly frank, if you're in a concealed-carry state (and even if not), then chances are that somebody has a gun at any public rally or gathering which isn't behind metal detectors. Seriously, take a concealed carry class and then look around at the art fair, the church picnic, the Mayor Days parade, or the carnival -- you might be surprised at what you see. Do you really think these open-carry guys on TV are the first who ever brought a gun to a protest? Do you think they're the only ones in that crowd who are armed? C'mon.

The only difference here is open carry. Personally, I think it's a stupid gesture, and one which (in this case) seems aimed solely at causing controversy (I think these guys are not trying to "intimidate" the people around them as much as they're trying to cause a kerfuffle and get on TV; they can and do "intimidate" just fine by yelling. Besides, openly carrying also has a paradoxically limiting effect on how much active intimidating you can do, because it's much more serious if somebody calls your bluff.)

That said, open carry is legal in these states, and I think it's a good thing that Obama & Co. aren't pulling the reverse of the Bush-tee-shirt crap on these guys. The cops are there, the Secret Service is there; let them handle it, act like it's no big deal, and stop giving these guys media coverage. I suspect the whole issue will fade away the minute it's not "omg scary" anymore.
posted by vorfeed at 10:16 AM on August 20, 2009 [10 favorites]


I'd say it's been about, oh, 229 years or so.

You're probably right.

Try a thought experiment: What would conservatives have said if a group of loud, scruffy leftists had brought guns to the public events of Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush?

On this topic, does anybody else remember the reaction when Charlie Brooker said:

"John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. - where are you now that we need you?"
posted by knapah at 10:16 AM on August 20, 2009


the assassination of an idealistic president and a failure of technology just aren't comparable rallying points.

Although I'd half-expect the nutters to describe a (Democratic) presidential assassination euphemistically as a "failure of technology."
posted by joe lisboa at 10:19 AM on August 20, 2009


"Guns and Poses" is the perfect title for this post if you consider the theatrical aspect of this act--the living embodiment of "Molon Labe" ("Come and take them!", a phrase common to the AR-15/2A community). Had the police or Secret Service seized the rifles, it would have been interpreted, in certain NRA-friendly quarters, as the realization of every paranoid RTBA supporter, and serving as a justification of future resistance to Obama/ATF/gubmint. And it would have been a major cash-cow for the NRA's fund raising. The martyrdom didn't happen for a variety of reasons, thank God, but the staging telegraphs well. The decision to keep an eye on, but not interfere with, these guys was a good one, I think.

I'm sure that there are folks on the AR-15 boards who are saying "Dumbasses! Those guys really made us look bad." They did. The wish to make a political point one way does not negate the message that was telegraphed to people who may be on the fence about gun control-- and that is that there are owners of high-powered rifles who don't display good judgment and DO enjoy intimidating their fellow citizens. 'Cause you know what? A modded-out AR-15 can look damn scary to someone who's not used to seeing anything like it outside of the movies. The badder looking, the bigger the bragging rights. But guys? This did not look real good to a significant slice of America. You didn't win any converts.

The point is not to compare Bush-era free-speech zones to what happened in Arizona; the point is that nobody took the guns away, even in such a politically-charged atmosphere. Johnny got his gun, and got to keep it without harassment by jack-booted thugs. No wonder the NRA hasn't had much to say about it.
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:19 AM on August 20, 2009 [13 favorites]


I think these guys are not trying to "intimidate" the people around them as much as they're trying to cause a kerfuffle and get on TV; they can and do "intimidate" just fine by yelling.

Yeah, I'm sure these guys don't feel stronger, more confident, more manly with these weapons of death (loaded, no less) at their side. No sir, it's just a prop, just a message, it has nothing to do with intimidating you by reminding you that any escalation might result in your brains being splattered all over the pavement because of my poor impulse control.
posted by splice at 10:21 AM on August 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


The Second Amendment is about Massachusetts or Iowa's right to maintain a local militia to defend against tyranny, not for Chris Nolastname from New Hampshire to strap a loaded pistol to his thigh and walk around intimidating citizens.

While I agree that the 2nd Amendment does not give private citizens carte blanche to intimidate each other, the meaning of the amendment has been pored over and debated by cooler heads than yours, and it isn't nearly so cut and dried as you would like to think.

The Challenger explosion was a sudden bout of death which caused everyone to stop. Everyone who was alive and cognizant that day remembers where they were when they heard about it. The same was true of the Kennedy assassination.

I guess I can see this link between those two events, though it is pretty tenuous in my opinion. I just don't see how the Challenger explosion is supposed to stop things like this from happening, because it is sort of similar to the Kennedy assassination in terms of impact on memory.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:23 AM on August 20, 2009


I have a few friends who are both gun owners and anti-Obama, making a lot of noise about this. On their end, they claim they need to bring guns to town hall meetings in order to defend themselves from the "union goons" that will beat them up. Thus far I've refrained from either:

a) ... offering to set up a secure chain-link-and-barbed-wire enclosure for them three blocks from the Town Hall meeting, where the mean shouty middle-aged latinas from the SEIU can't get at them. Not sure what I would call them though... maybe "1st amendment places"? Naw, maybe "unhindered speaking area"? Any suggestions?

b) ... pointing out that we didn't bring guns while facing down armed and armored government riot police during the Iraq War protests, so maybe they don't actually need an AR15 to confront a 5'1 obese middle-aged maintenance worker from Guatemala.
posted by xthlc at 10:23 AM on August 20, 2009 [11 favorites]


You know who's got some nice guns? Michelle Obama! Grrroooowrr!
posted by Mister_A at 10:23 AM on August 20, 2009


Hmm. Since in some areas salvia divinorum and certain kinds of hallucinogenic mushrooms are not yet illegal, I propose that groups show up to GOP rallies in those places and start handing out free samples. Then we turn the cameras on. That would make for some compelling television.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:24 AM on August 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


Dear Dangerously Confused Toddler-Men,

Grow the fuck up.

Sincerely,
Me
posted by Ratio at 10:24 AM on August 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


On their end, they claim they need to bring guns to town hall meetings in order to defend themselves from the "union goons" that will beat them up.

That's pretty sad. I have always thought that people who accuse gun owners of being "scared of the world" were just projecting, but if this is true I may have to rethink that.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:26 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


My personal opinion is that Guns have one sole purpose and that is to kill things. They are used to hunt, defend ourselves, and our country. That should be their entire purpose.

I use mine for target shooting. Exclusively.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:31 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fuck I carry a gun. I carry one to presidential rallies. You want to know why I carry a gun? All the animals come out at night - whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets. I go all over. I take people to the Bronx, Brooklyn, I take 'em to Harlem. I don't care. Don't make no difference to me. It does to some. Some won't even take spooks. Don't make no difference to me.
posted by geoff. at 10:31 AM on August 20, 2009 [16 favorites]


Could you show up carrying a sword? Would that be acceptable?

... and what happens when one of these gun nuts reach down to adjust their penis extension and a secret service sniper misinterprets their intentions and does exactly what he should do in that case (which is drop him cold)?

All hell is going to break loose.

It's not yelling FIRE in a theater, but it is bringing kindling, gasoline and matches in for the matinee.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 10:33 AM on August 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


I guess I can see this link between those two events, though it is pretty tenuous in my opinion. I just don't see how the Challenger explosion is supposed to stop things like this from happening, because it is sort of similar to the Kennedy assassination in terms of impact on memory.

It's less about prevention, and more about not wanting to see another similar memory-molding event in my lifetime.
posted by hippybear at 10:35 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


The only thing I can think of that would make me show up to a townhall meeting with a gun strapped to me for everyone to see would be to compensate for my hilariously miniscule penis.
posted by chugg at 10:35 AM on August 20, 2009


"Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown."
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:36 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Having a right to bear arms, and a right to free speech doesn't mean you have a right to armed speech.
posted by empath at 10:37 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I use mine for target shooting. Exclusively.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:31 AM on August 20 [+] [!]

They got places like that? Seriously? And here is me thinking all this time that guns were for going to political rallies and protecting yourself against the Obama SS union goons.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 10:37 AM on August 20, 2009


I think it boils down to these people wanting some form of national attention that they can then use as a soapbox. What they're hoping for is for a police officer or Secret Service agent to take away the gun or ask them to stash it in their car, and then they'll complain about it in front of the media's cameras, or file a lawsuit. Then, they'll use their media time to either A: rail against healthcare or B: advocate for guns.

The problem is that in their minds they think it's reasonable to carry guns near VIPs who are major targets for assassinations and are already accompanied by many bodyguards and police officers. I doubt most Americans would agree with them. It's crystal clear that these people want a national stage to advocate that they should be able to carry a gun anywhere and at any time. However, most people see guns as tools with contexts. If you aren't carrying a gun for protection (IE in a job which actually call for it, or a dangerous neighborhood, not an event with tight security) or hunting or sport, it's pretty much assumed you have bad intentions with it.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:38 AM on August 20, 2009


Bah, the "arms==handheld guns" interpretation of the second amendment is pretty pathetic. The second amendment was really defeated when it was allowed to be defined this way.

Missile launchers. Rocket-propelled grenades. Land mines. Artillery. Biological weapons. Nerve gas. SAM sites. These are arms. I thought the whole point of the second amendment was that the populace should have parity with the military in order to keep tyranny in check?

It's cute how the militia movement thinks that when the chips are down, they'll somehow be more than a bug on the windshield of the modern military.
posted by mullingitover at 10:38 AM on August 20, 2009 [12 favorites]


pointing out that we didn't bring guns while facing down armed and armored government riot police during the Iraq War protests

I wouldn't have even thought we could get away with that. Now I know better. Code Pink was doing it all wrong.
posted by empath at 10:40 AM on August 20, 2009


Sorry...this is a health reform policy consultation isn't it? Seems the plot is well and truly lost.
posted by salishsea at 10:40 AM on August 20, 2009


The first thing I'd do if I had a time machine is go back to when the 2nd Amendment was being deliberated and insist that the writers clarify WTF they meant. It is as if the original intent was put into a Japanese translator and then translated back into English.
posted by birdherder at 10:40 AM on August 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


It seems pretty obvious to me that the thinking here is that they WANT to get arrested, I mean, that's what fascists do, right? They are convinced that Obama wants to take away their guns, so that's what they expect would happen at these rallies. It's absolutely the right move to not give them the martyrdom that they so desire. Obama is a smart man.
posted by MythMaker at 10:42 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


xthlc: "I have a few friends who are both gun owners and anti-Obama, making a lot of noise about this. On their end, they claim they need to bring guns to town hall meetings in order to defend themselves from the "union goons" that will beat them up. Thus far I've refrained from either:

a) ... offering to set up a secure chain-link-and-barbed-wire enclosure for them three blocks from the Town Hall meeting, where the mean shouty middle-aged latinas from the SEIU can't get at them. Not sure what I would call them though... maybe "1st amendment places"? Naw, maybe "unhindered speaking area"? Any suggestions?"


Go for the classic "Free speech zone," unless you're trying to be sly about it. I suggest "Patriot's nest" or "Dissent Center."
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:42 AM on August 20, 2009


Anyway, if gun ownership is a right then why aren't these 2nt amendment organizations giving out guns to poor people who can't afford them? If gun ownership is a right we should see to it that guns are widely available to all.

Saul Cornell's A Well-Regulated Militia argues that the Second Amendment does not merely confer the right to bear arms, but confers an obligation to bear arms in defense of the country. This is something the militia movement never seems to keen to emphasize. Because if you make gun ownership an obligation, gun ownership will no longer be disproportionately concentrated among guys with Confederate flag decals on their pick-up trucks, but instead gun ownership will be spread across many heterogeneous social groups, ranging from the Unitarian church social club to the gay couple who lives down the block.

I suspect, though, that the pro-gun people really only want white people to have guns.

I don't know of any contemporary examples, but in 1966, the California state legislature passed a law, colloquially known as the Black Panther Bill, that made it illegal to carry loaded weapons in public, because they wanted to stop the Black Panther Party's patrols against police brutality in Oakland.
posted by jonp72 at 10:42 AM on August 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's cute how the militia movement thinks that when the chips are down, they'll somehow be more than a bug on the windshield of the modern military.

I dunno. Sure seems to me like all it takes to stymie the US military is some AK-47s and homemade bombs detonated with cell phones.
posted by EarBucket at 10:43 AM on August 20, 2009 [10 favorites]


Weezy: Hey USA - What the fuck is up with the goddamn guns? The rest of the world doesn't get it.

Insurance policy. We've got all these guns to keep the government in check.

Yes, it seems batshit crazy. We've not had to revolt in a long, long time. Most people in the USA can't imagine a world in which the government actually starts rounding people up in camps, or takes over private industry, or whatever. But that's just our current context and could change any day. If a terrorist sets off a nuke in NYC, is it really that hard to imagine a (genuinely) fascist/dictatorial regime coming to power and refusing to leave when the threat is gone? Government runs amok all the time in other countries.

And like any insurance policy, it's got premiums. Tens of thousands of people die every year in murders and avoidable suicides. It doesn't seem worth it, but again, that's partly because we've had it so good for so long that people can't fathom a genuinely evil government taking over. Lots of people throughout history have probably wished they'd lived somewhere with our sort of mutually assured destruction, though.

That doesn't change the fact that the people showing up to rallies armed are a bunch of assholes that don't deserve the freedoms they're abusing.
posted by paanta at 10:44 AM on August 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


adamdschneider That's pretty sad. I have always thought that people who accuse gun owners of being "scared of the world" were just projecting, but if this is true I may have to rethink that.

Sad but true. Look for the terms "union goon" or "union thug" + "town hall" on blogsearch. It's now a (pathetic) meme.
posted by xthlc at 10:44 AM on August 20, 2009


"Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown."

Grapple gun. Doesn't count.
posted by Artw at 10:45 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sigh.
Here are the old tropes that I've heard since this shit was on the news.

"An armed society is a polite society"
- Wrong. An armed society is a shoot or be shot society, i.e. Tombstone. If everyone has guns, no one will be allowed to have any kind of inebriant. Just look at the "Florida" tag on Fark for a reality check.

"2nd Amendment, blah, blah, blah"
- Sure, great. Keep your gun at home, in the cabinet, and when your whole community is threatened with an armed force attempting to infringe upon your constitutional rights (you know, like having to harbor soldiers in your home, or coming to take your land from you and give it to some croney of the crown). But guess what? You don't have enough bullets. You will never have enough bullets. And you only have one gun to fire accurately at one target at a time. In any tactical situation, you lose, because they will have 5 guns and only one target.

I could go on, but seriously, the ignorance of all of this is beyond my ability to deal with at the moment. Ignorant rage is like a retard with a swollen brain. You either tranquilize it and try and cure the infection, or you put it down, hard. Otherwise it is just going to continue being loud and disruptive, and seriously remove any possibility of a civilized society.
posted by daq at 10:46 AM on August 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


Sorry...this is a health reform policy consultation isn't it? Seems the plot is well and truly lost.

Well, this post was about gun right's fallacies, but yeah, it has the potential to be a huge derail of the health reform discussion.

Maybe we should get on board with the ObamaFade© and let them carry where it's legal, and get on with it. One more pistol-packer outside is one less shouter inside.

It sure beats standing outside in the August sun with a sign saying "I support single payer and I'm armed".
posted by lysdexic at 10:47 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]




birdherder: "The first thing I'd do if I had a time machine is go back to when the 2nd Amendment was being deliberated and insist that the writers clarify WTF they meant. It is as if the original intent was put into a Japanese translator and then translated back into English."

Agreed. That's what I've always hated. It isn't really clear if they intended for only state militias to have guns, or if all citizens should be able to have guns. Going with either interpretation feels like going for a loophole. It'd be nice to just have a new, clearly defined amendment supersede the second amendment. I get that there's a lot of emotion behind such a move, but it'd defend the second amendment's intent better than leaving it alone. The current definition is so vague that lawmakers and courts can pretty much do whatever they're politically able to do with gun rights in either direction.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:47 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Black Panthers tried this open carry business back in the 60's. Governor Ronald Reagan shut open carry down in California with the Mulford Act. Ironic.
posted by Daddy-O at 10:49 AM on August 20, 2009 [17 favorites]


Missile launchers. Rocket-propelled grenades. Land mines. Artillery. Biological weapons. Nerve gas. SAM sites. These are arms. I thought the whole point of the second amendment was that the populace should have parity with the military in order to keep tyranny in check?

There is no right to overthrow the government in the United States Constitution. In fact, Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to "To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions." If the Framers of the Constitution had intended to give the populace a right to rebellion, then why did the give Congress the power to "suppress Insurrections"?
posted by jonp72 at 10:50 AM on August 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


EarBucket "I dunno. Sure seems to me like all it takes to stymie the US military is some AK-47s and homemade bombs detonated with cell phones lack of domestic political will to firebomb every population center in the country."

I lol'd, then fixed that for you. You really think the military is stymied by this?
posted by mullingitover at 10:51 AM on August 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


It is as if the original intent was put into a Japanese translator and then translated back into English.

Translation Party to the rescue!

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

->

"Did not infringe the rights of freedom of paramilitary weapons in national security."
posted by Perplexity at 10:53 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm sure these guys don't feel stronger, more confident, more manly with these weapons of death (loaded, no less) at their side. No sir, it's just a prop, just a message, it has nothing to do with intimidating you by reminding you that any escalation might result in your brains being splattered all over the pavement because of my poor impulse control.

heh, I like your selective quoting, there. Again, having a gun often mitigates "poor impulse control", because the stakes are a lot higher when you're armed. And, again, many others at these rallies are also armed, including but not limited to the police and the Secret Service, and these open-carry guys know it. Thus, they are not as much of a threat to the President or anyone else as someone with a concealed weapon is, because they've been openly identified.

Put it all together, and yes, this looks much more like an attempt at controversy, symbolism, and please-please-arrest-me-so-I-can-make-a-big-deal-about-my-rights than it does an act of "intimidation". It's the pro-gun equivalent of bringing a patently offensive sign and/or burning a flag at a rally -- you get on TV, your more reasonable allies are rolling their eyes and facepalming, and suddenly you've got a great soapbox for whatever it is you're mad about.

If the Framers of the Constitution had intended to give the populace a right to rebellion, then why did the give Congress the power to "suppress Insurrections"?

Ever heard of "Checks & Balances"? I hear they put on a great show; the Framers must have been huge fans!
posted by vorfeed at 10:53 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I dunno. Sure seems to me like all it takes to stymie the US military is some AK-47s and homemade bombs detonated with cell phones

It definitely annoyed the US military, but didn't exactly drive it out of the country.
posted by empath at 10:54 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ignorant rage is like a retard with a swollen brain. You either tranquilize it and try and cure the infection, or you put it down, hard.

O_o
posted by adamdschneider at 10:55 AM on August 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


jonp72: "There is no right to overthrow the government in the United States Constitution."

Maybe they didn't feel the need to repeat themselves after laying it out so clearly in the Declaration of Independence?
posted by mullingitover at 10:56 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


You guys do realize that, when the second amendment was written, we sort of needed to have militias ready to fight against the British, from whom we had recently, and violently, seceded, right? The militias are not for the overthrow of the elected government, but for the expulsion of foreign powers.
posted by Mister_A at 10:56 AM on August 20, 2009


So it looks like they're allowed to have their guns outside the building, but not bring them within range of the POTUS. Seems like a reasonable enough compromise to me, really.

I suppose so, if there are only four or five of them. But what if there were fifteen? What if there were fifty? What if some of them have criminal records or known affiliations to the groups that advocate the armed overthrow of the US? When does the Secret Service step in and say: "We're sorry, but you're going to have to go very far away if you want to walk around with an assault rifle on your back. The media can interview you on the other side of the city."

This is deliberately provocative activism: that means that the activists won't be satisfied until they provoke a response. In this, they're no different from leftist protesters. The strategy isn't just to attract attention to your cause, it's to supply evidence of the oppressive state action you're claiming to oppose. Leftists will block traffic and spit on police officers to draw the kind of violent reaction they need. What will rightists do?
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:57 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I dunno. Sure seems to me like all it takes to stymie the US military is some AK-47s and homemade bombs detonated with cell phones

The US military being the weaponised arm of a democratic government. If the US military was being run by a Tyrannical Regime, I don't think there'd be much trouble. Actually, some of these wingnuts dreams would probably come true then... internment camps, summary executions requiring the use of those grave liners they go on about all the time, etc.
posted by knapah at 10:59 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


incessant: It is very difficult to explain why I have my concealed carry permit to people who don't share a similar mindset, but I'll give it a go.

One, I grew up with a healthy respect for firearms, not the "action movie" or "cowboy" image of them. A gun is for killing, end of story. I have no desire to have some situation happen in which I need a gun, or any real desire to be a hero in such a situation.

Two, I do enjoy guns, and shooting, and firearms technology. They are fun on a range, and I do like the personal challenge of trying to better my own aim with many different weapons. I like archery and knife throwing for the same reason.

Those two things said, I live in a place in the world (the South, in a major urban center) where I know others have less respect for the law, other human beings, and their own lives than I do. I do everything within my power to remain safe, secure, and out of harms way. But I am a) female, b) middle class in appearance, and c) not very physically threatening looking, and all three of those play against me in terms of the previous attempts. I don't often find myself in situations where I am afraid of my own person coming to harm, but I am aware such situations can occur, statistically low as they are.

I guess the analogy is this - yes, there is a very low chance of me ever being struck by lightning, and yes, I do attempt to stay out situations where lightning may strike me. But I'd sure like to be able to have a portable Faraday Cage in my pocket if I'm ever stranded on the back 9 of a golf course in Florida.
posted by strixus at 11:01 AM on August 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


I of course think this guy was a nutter, showing up with a gun at a meeting like this, which is CLEARLY against GA's weapon laws (know them quite well, thank you). But ANY weapon (sword/knife/etc) can be considered a threat by GA weapon laws, if the officer thinks you are posing a threat by having the weapon.
posted by strixus at 11:02 AM on August 20, 2009


Does it make you feel safer?

Yes.

Are you genuinely scared of the world so much that you feel you need to have a weapon on you at all times?

No, just the part I live in.

Or is it for some other reason? I've only ever heard concealed-carry proponents talk about how if something happened, they could 'handle it.'

The business next to my sons' school allows us to use their parking lot when the schools' smallish lot is full, which is fairly often. This business had a disgruntled ex-employee show up with a gun a couple months ago, about ten minutes before we arrived for drop off.

Had I arrived 10 minutes earlier, there is an excellent chance we'd have come face to face with this lunatic. Maybe he leaves us alone. Maybe he decides to train his gun on me or my sons. If I have no gun in this situation, we're goners. A concealed gun at least gives us a fighting chance. They are for situations where flight is impossible and death is likely otherwise. It offers no guarantee you will prevail, but luck favors the prepared.

Is it about wanting to star in your own very-real action movie?

Fuck No. I'm a father.

Does it make you feel powerful?

No.

I'm sorry that these questions appear condescending, but I just don't understand the logic behind carrying a weapon unless you spend a prodigious amount of time in a place where gunfights happen with regularity and defending yourself would be a frequent occurrence like in Mogadishu versus a freak occurrence like in, say, here?

There are plenty of crime stories in my zip code. Home invasions, people getting stuck up in their garages by bandits laying in wait, people followed home by robbers, car jackings. Murder. Some people fought back with guns and prevailed. The unarmed ones didn't fare as well. It's not Mogudishu or Johannesburg or Buenos Aires, but it's nowhere near as safe as it was ten years ago, and it's going to get worse, everywhere, as Depression 2.0 drags on.

It's a very big decision to carry a concealed weapon, and it's not for everyone. You can be a hothead, or you can concealed carry, but not both. The best defense is staying alert to your surroundings and wearing shoes you can run in. I'm also an absolute nut about safe handling, I follow the four rules of gun safety religiously. People who don't have no business carrying.
posted by Scoo at 11:02 AM on August 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


We've got all these guns to keep the government in check.

You're doin' a heckuva job Brownie!
posted by blue_beetle at 11:02 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


fuq: "I suspect, though, that the pro-gun people really only want white people to have guns."

Except that pro-gun groups including the NRA have been consistently against measures that artificially increase the price of guns or eliminate inexpensive guns, which are pretty clearly aimed at disarming poor people by making guns (particularly handguns) too expensive for anyone but the middle class and up to afford. And they love to point out the sordid history of gun control, especially in the post-Civil-War South.

(The NRA has even been accused of supporting a "handgun for everyone" policy by the anti-gun crowd—guess you just can't please everyone.)

If anything, it's the supporters of "moderate" or "common-sense" gun control whose stance seems to have some strangely racist undertones going on in it: telling a mostly white crowd that "I'm not going to take your guns away" and that gun control is aimed at inner-city "gang bangers and drug dealers" is not exactly a subtle message. You can't say with a straight face that someone with Obama's rhetorical skill and experience playing the race-politics game didn't know exactly how that would be construed by the audience.

But don't let those pesky facts get in the way of your prejudices or anything.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:03 AM on August 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


Also, I think Obama should show up at every press conference with a bazooka strapped to his back, and a couple of grenades clipped to his belt.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:03 AM on August 20, 2009


Oh, and showing up at a presidential event with a locked and loaded AR-15 is for assholes. Do you think you are helping the cause? You are not. You are making us sane gun owners look bad.
posted by Scoo at 11:05 AM on August 20, 2009


jonp72: "There is no right to overthrow the government in the United States Constitution."

Um, actually, Jefferson made a REALLY clear case on several points that the inalienable rights of all human beings includes this right to self government, and to violent rebellion if needed to secure ANY of our other rights.

So uh. Yeah, we do have one.

Kant, on the other hand, makes a really interesting case for citizens not having such a right, in On Perpetual Peace, but its very clear where his sympathies lay in that argument, since he says while such a right doesn't exist, and cannot, we shouldn't punish failed revolutionaries very harshly.
posted by strixus at 11:05 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is as if the original intent was put into a Japanese translator and then translated back into English.

Macho Business Donkey Wrestler
posted by Scoo at 11:14 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Let's all show up at the next townhall with awesome electric guitars strapped to our backs. We'll stand next to the gun dudes and everytime someone tries to interview them, we'll play some sweet, sweet Skynyrd, totally drowning them out.

They may complain, but fuck it. Right to Rock, dude.

doodaliedoodaliedoodalie-wweeeeeeee-whhhhaaaaaaaaa
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:15 AM on August 20, 2009 [32 favorites]


They may complain, but fuck it. Right to Rock, dude.

"So if you need some action and nothing comes around
Don't call the doctor, turn up the sound!
Play it loud! In! your! neighborhood!"

\m/
posted by vorfeed at 11:18 AM on August 20, 2009


And yet, people wearing anti-Bush t-shirts in 2004 were ARRESTED for doing so.

When 1st and 2nd Amendment Conflict: Protests, Guns and Double Standards
posted by homunculus at 11:19 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]




My favorite parts from the cnn article on the AR-15 guy:

U.S. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan ... Asked whether the individuals carrying weapons jeopardized the safety of the president, Donovan said, "Of course not."
"It was a group interested in exercising the right to bear arms," police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill said ... officers explained the law to some people who were upset about the presence of weapons at the protest.


So what he did was both legal and not a concern to both law enforcement and the Secret Service at the scene.

I actually didn't realize that open carry applied to rifles, not just handguns. Maybe my AK-47 and I will go for a hike this weekend.
posted by jsonic at 11:21 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Welcome back Militia of Montana and all that sort of stuff I expect
posted by A189Nut at 11:21 AM on August 20, 2009


Fuck it, I'm taking a GAU-8 in a shopping trolly.

1) Don't be such a pussy. I'll lend you a few knife missiles.

2) You'd need an unreasonably big, sturdy shopping cart for a clumsy, primitive weapon like that.

If you're the kind of person who would carry a semi-automatic weapon to a peaceful assembly, you're the kind of person who shouldn't have a gun.

So you wouldn't object if they had a single-shot weapon instead?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:24 AM on August 20, 2009


And when the gun-folk complain on the TV, we'll be all like, "Dude, we were playing Skynyrd. What do you have against Skynyrd? You some kinda socialist?"

And they'll all be like, "No, uh, we love Skynyrd and freedom."

"So bring your guitar, dude!"

And that's how the townhalls will all become the biggest traveling outdoor music fest since the Dead. People will drop out of college to "Follow the Prez." They'll spend their days rocking out and their nights 'talking policy' with some sweet lil thing from MSNBC.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:24 AM on August 20, 2009 [12 favorites]


b) middle class in appearance

Strixus, please define middle class appearance and elaborate on how appearing middle class decreases your personal safety.
posted by philotes at 11:25 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kliban.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 11:28 AM on August 20, 2009


Kant, on the other hand, makes a really interesting case for citizens not having such a right.

Strixus, whenever you want to talk shop over (between?) a few rounds at the range, I'm totally down.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:28 AM on August 20, 2009


Um, actually, Jefferson made a REALLY clear case on several points that the inalienable rights of all human beings includes this right to self government, and to violent rebellion if needed to secure ANY of our other rights.

Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, not a drafter of the Constitution. Jefferson was serving as minister to France at the time the Constitution was drafted. When you consider how several of the framers of the Constitution were involved in the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion, I don't think you can read a "right to rebellion" into the Constitution. You might be able to make a case for a "right to rebellion" on universalistic human rights grounds, but there is no specific right in the Constitution that gives your friendly local Viper Militia the right to make war against the government.
posted by jonp72 at 11:29 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know who else carried guns to public political meetings?

Yeah, you know it.
posted by symbioid at 11:29 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Kliban 2.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:30 AM on August 20, 2009


Strixus, please define middle class appearance and elaborate on how appearing middle class decreases your personal safety.

I thought she meant she looked rich enough to be worth robbing.
posted by Perplexity at 11:30 AM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


It would have been sweet if Obama had walked up to them and put flowers in their gun barrels.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:30 AM on August 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


Jefferson was serving as minister to France at the time the Constitution was drafted. When you consider how several of the framers of the Constitution were involved in the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion

Jefferson was (unpopularly) a very big supporter of both the French and Whiskey rebellions. He was definitely a proponent of insurrection where justified.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:32 AM on August 20, 2009


You know who else carried guns to public political meetings?

The S1Ws?

Sure, they were plastic guns....
posted by COBRA! at 11:32 AM on August 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


What point do you think they're trying to make bringing these weapons to a political rally?

Dunno. Lots of good possibilities floated upthread. I'm waiting to see just how quickly the circus disappears and the discussion turns back to health care once some uninsured schmuck in the crowd fires on some other uninsured schmuck in the crowd, and takes returned fire for his trouble.
posted by tzikeh at 11:34 AM on August 20, 2009


Fuck it, I'm taking a GAU-8 in a shopping trolly.

1) Don't be such a pussy. I'll lend you a few knife missiles.

2) You'd need an unreasonably big, sturdy shopping cart for a clumsy, primitive weapon like that.


It's retro!

I'll use one of the kids shopping carts from Fred Meyer that look like a car, they're the approximate length of an aircraft carrier.
posted by Artw at 11:35 AM on August 20, 2009


I wonder what the reaction of these gun-toters would be* if a bunch of brothers from the Nation of Islam started showing up to the same rallies, exercising their right to bear arms in public?

The NOI might could forestall any knee-jerk reaction from gun-toters by getting memberships in the NRA first, and wearing "I'm in the NRA" buttons on their lapels next to their buttons depicting Master Fard Muhammad and Bro. Elijah.

I'd pay good money to see that. "Oh, look! Another 2nd Amendment supporter! As-salamu alaykum, my cream-colored bretheren!" *hugs, gives Black Power Salute*









*beside the boringly predictable "See! It MUST be true! Obama MUST be a Muslim! Otherwise why would the Nation be here?" response.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:39 AM on August 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


b) middle class in appearance

Strixus, please define middle class appearance and elaborate on how appearing middle class decreases your personal safety.
posted by philotes at 11:25 AM on August 20 [+] [!]

please don't. we can assume she meant 'white' if we want, but let's not go there. black on white crime is relatively non-existent, but she was referring to 'freak occurrences', so it could be anything
posted by Think_Long at 11:40 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not sure why we can't just refer to this sort of behavior by its real name: terrorism.
posted by Legomancer at 11:41 AM on August 20, 2009


We should have a MeFI meetup at a gun range. All three of us.
posted by Scoo at 11:46 AM on August 20, 2009


Also, Neal Stephenson, from "Cryptonomicon": "It is an oddity of the law in many jurisdictions that, while carrying (say) a concealed one-shot .22 derringer requires a license, openly carrying (e.g.) a big game rifle is perfectly legal. Concealed weapons are outlawed or at least heavily regulated, and unconcealed ones are not. So a lot of Secret Admirers—who tend to be gun nuts—have taken to going around conspicuously armed as a way of pointing out the absurdity of those rules. Their point is this: who gives a shit about concealed weapons anyway, since they are only useful for defending oneself against assault by petty criminals, which almost never happens? The real reason the Constitution provides for the right to bear arms is defending oneself against oppressive governments, and when it comes to that, your handgun is close to useless. So (according to these guys) if you are going to assert your right to keep and bear arms you should do it openly, by packing something really big."
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:55 AM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


~Jefferson made a REALLY clear case on several points that the inalienable rights of all human beings includes this right to self government, and to violent rebellion if needed to secure ANY of our other rights.
~Jefferson was (unpopularly) a very big supporter of both the French and Whiskey rebellions. He was definitely a proponent of insurrection where justified.


However, such a "right" is not written or implied in the Constitution. A founding father's personal thoughts or beliefs do not qualify as a Constitutional right.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:04 PM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


We should have a MeFI meetup at a gun range. All three of us.

There's a difference between shooting, which is fun and done for recreation and carrying.

So those who carry: On the off chance that you do walk into some sort of Die Hard moment while carrying a weapon, how do you live with yourself if you accidentally hit an innocent bystander, say, a schoolkid? How do insure that you don't become the guy with the embarrassing obituary that relates how you were shot with your own gun? Just shoot anybody who gets too close? How do you insure that you don't totally misread a situation and create a far bigger problem by reacting?

incessant's disclaimer about not trying to appear condescending also applies here. These are honest questions.
posted by sageleaf at 12:10 PM on August 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Four! And hubby makes five.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:12 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I support the right of mentally stable, nonviolent people to own firearms but there are some places they just don't belong and I'd say near a heated public, political debate is a prime example of where not to pack heat. Why was Brett Bursey arrested for carrying a sign near W and people can have guns outside where Democrats are speaking? I swear to God a lot of so called conservatives are just assholes.
posted by Tashtego at 12:15 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


However, such a "right" is not written or implied in the Constitution. A founding father's personal thoughts or beliefs do not qualify as a Constitutional right.

It's an inherent right. Which by its very nature is impossible to recognize legally. Though I think any sort of armed revolution is going to pay lip service to 'protecting' the Constitution, rather than overthrowing it.
posted by empath at 12:17 PM on August 20, 2009


It's kind of disappointing that so few liberals are willing to strap up and appear in public.

As a damned furriner, I find it disappointing that so few liberals are willing to join the NRA. There are what, four million members? 70 million votes were cast for Obama: get one tenth of those voters to join the NRA and change policy.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:17 PM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wonder what would happen if a thousand progressive protestors carrying guns showed up outside Fox News or the NRA HQ or a major Republican event.
posted by NorthernLite at 12:22 PM on August 20, 2009


One of the guys open carrying is going to make a mistake and get shot, and that will be very unfortunate for all of us. All we can do is hope the Secret Service is as super-cool as their reputation says they are. Does anyone else remember the last heyday of American militias and domestic terrorism? You know, during Clinton's presidency? If a gun owner is shot at a presidential rally, we'll see things that make Waco look like a day at the waterslides.

These idiots are playing a game, but they have absolutely no idea what the stakes are.
posted by rusty at 12:24 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


As a damned furriner, I find it disappointing that so few liberals are willing to join the NRA. There are what, four million members? 70 million votes were cast for Obama: get one tenth of those voters to join the NRA and change policy.

I joined, now the NRA is one fourmillionth less right wing!
posted by Scoo at 12:26 PM on August 20, 2009


Most people in the USA can't imagine a world in which the government actually starts rounding people up in camps.

Most people need to do some reading, then. No imagination required.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:28 PM on August 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


I find it disappointing that so few liberals are willing to join the NRA.

I was a member, years ago, but I got tired of the endless, ridiculous propaganda they kept sending me. It really was grotesque. I have a hard time believing enough liberals could ever join to shift the organization in a significant way, but hell, start a movement; maybe I'll join.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:29 PM on August 20, 2009


I find it disappointing that so few liberals are willing to join the NRA.

I would in a heartbeat if it did what it said on the label. Or what adam said.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:32 PM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Middle class in appearance" means she shops at Target, not Wal-Mart or Abercrombie & Fitch. She also drives a Japanese sedan instead of a European or domestic, buys her shoes at the mall instead of PayLess, and gets her hair colored every month - so if it's been a while her roots will be showing.

At least that's how all the women in my neighborhood look. I could be wrong.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 12:34 PM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


So those who carry: On the off chance that you do walk into some sort of Die Hard moment while carrying a weapon, how do you live with yourself if you accidentally hit an innocent bystander, say, a schoolkid?

Die Hard situation? I'd run like hell. Again, concealed carry is for when you literally have your back to the wall and no option to flee. I'm much more worried about backing over someone's kid in my car than shooting one.

How do insure that you don't become the guy with the embarrassing obituary that relates how you were shot with your own gun?

Uh, shoot the bad guy before he grabs my gun? If he's close enough to grab me I've likely already shot him.

Just shoot anybody who gets too close?

No.

How do you insure that you don't totally misread a situation and create a far bigger problem by reacting?

Rule 4: BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET
Know what it is, what is in line with it, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything you have not positively identified. Be aware of your surroundings, whether on the range or in a fight. Do not assume anything. Know what you are doing.
posted by Scoo at 12:36 PM on August 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Whoops forgot italics, sorry
posted by Scoo at 12:38 PM on August 20, 2009


I was looking at the video of the guy with the shoulder strung AR-15 and how he had it slung over his right arm, and at the same time, had a high right hip holster for his pistol. Supposedly, both were loaded. Now this doesn't make sense to me. The rifle is now in the way of his clear reach for the pistol, and should someone approach from his rear right, they could easily take the pistol and fire it before he unslung, unlocked the safety, and took aim with the rifle. I know gun enthusiasts always tout how careful and well practiced they are with their weapons, but this just seems rather strange to me. Had he had the pistol in a front crossed holster (since he is apparently right handed), I could understand him slinging the rifle over his right shoulder, but since he had his holster in his right rear, I'd think he'd bind himself going for the pistol should he be approached from the rear. Also, cops are required to keep their holstered weapons unloaded, since, you know, someone might come from behind and take their weapon from them in a moment of opportunity.

Heck, even with those weapons, I can see that it would be easy to disarm them with a small group, especially if they came at him from multiple directions.

Sigh. I don't see the sense in it. Someone is going to get frisky if this keeps up and something dumb is going to happen.
posted by daq at 12:39 PM on August 20, 2009


Also, cops are required to keep their holstered weapons unloaded, since, you know, someone might come from behind and take their weapon from them in a moment of opportunity.

Where did you hear that? You'd better believe that cops guns are in fact loaded with a round in the chamber at all times. Also, cops get shot with their own guns in that exact scenario every year.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:52 PM on August 20, 2009


I find it disappointing that so few liberals are willing to join the NRA.

Yeah, as others said it's a tough sell. And the problem is a bit of a catch-22 -- right now, the NRA does much more than just advocate for gun rights. Part of that reason is because it's 98% populated by conservatives. Right now, my joining would simply give money to all sorts of other conservative causes I do not want to support. If enough liberals joined we could alter the course of the group, but in the meantime we'd just be helping elect people like Bush (whereas Obama, so far and in his statements, is a perfectly reasonably choice for "pro-gun" people -- I mean, the fact that he hasn't cracked down on this open carry stuff while Bush cracked down on people for wearing offensive T-shirts is a pretty good sign to me).
posted by wildcrdj at 1:02 PM on August 20, 2009


I was looking at the video of the guy with the shoulder strung AR-15 and how he had it slung over his right arm, and at the same time, had a high right hip holster for his pistol. Supposedly, both were loaded. Now this doesn't make sense to me.

Yeah. Most those thugs packing at that rally were complete poseurs. It's ridiculous.

I find it disappointing that so few liberals are willing to join the NRA.

I come form gun owning heritage. And my family were the lonely, lonely, liberals out in rural Idaho. And they are very politically active. My cousin is on the state legislature. The default attack against them by conservative opponents are inevitably about 2nd Amendment stances and gun ownership (now it's Teh Gays!). And the democratic party in those areas answered by feeding the rednecks swag and subsidies from the farm bill... and paying blackmail to... er...joining the NRA.

But starting in the eighties the NRA really began shitting on any of their democratic members as the NRA stance became more and more extreme and partisan.

I wouldn't join those NRA fucks now if you paid me. I've always though the left should start it's own 2nd Amendment organization, though. Promoting responsible ownership, training, and incorporating disenfranchised groups - like gays and minorities - into the organization.

This situation at these town halls could easily be the springboard for a regional min-civil war.

If it goes on and somebody does something stupid, like lights off a firecracker or does the stupid laser pointer shit and people start shooting... holy fuck. It could eaily turn into a blood bath. And the right will use that as the rallying point MUCH more effectively than will the left.

This country is heading toward a very dark place. I see direct parallels to what the thugs in Serbia were doing prior to that civil war. The morons fomenting this kind of confrontation armed mob politics are playing fire.

Frankly, when I see these mouth breathers packing at public speaking rallies to intimidate and suppress free discussion like that it only confirms my decision to own firearms. Fuck those guys.
posted by tkchrist at 1:02 PM on August 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


The Second Amendment of the Constitution of United States of America gives us all the right to bear arms.

Sigh.
No, it doesn't.
No more so than the First Amendment gives us the right to peaceably assemble or the Fourth Amendments gives us the right to be secure in our persons.

We have those rights implicitly by being born, not by virtue of the Constitution.
posted by madajb at 3:31 PM on August 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


Here's another good reason liberals don't join the NRA: they know what the reaction of their peers would be upon revelation of such, and/or admission of gun ownership. The pariah factor is high on that one. See, well, any of our previous gun threads. So you'd have to:

1) take the set of liberals
2) find those who could legally buy a gun
3) filter for those who would go through with owning guns and joinings the NRA
4) and either be willing to deal with the weird reactions of their friends or otherwise misrepresent themselves about the topic
5) who would then create a cell network with other infiltrators to influence policy.

Go deep undercover ... in the NRA!
posted by adipocere at 3:31 PM on August 20, 2009


I haven't seen it linked here, but LittleGreenFootballs* (which is highly critical of these guys) linked to a forum thread where the guys at the protest were talking about their shenanigans: right here.

*sadly LGF is one of the saner right-wing sites that I've found, so I browse it occasionally.
posted by m0nm0n at 3:31 PM on August 20, 2009


the NRA does much more than just advocate for gun rights

Just out of curiosity, what do they do besides gun rights that bugs you? They seem like a fairly ideologically pure organization to me; I can get not liking them if you don't agree with their interpretation of the Second Amendment, but I've never really see them do anything that didn't seem pretty closely related to that.

I guess some of their pro-hunting stuff is arguably peripheral to the central gun-rights issue, since the Second Amendment really doesn't say anything or create a right to hunt, but I've never met someone who was particularly bothered by that.

Their candidate endorsements tend to be conservative, but I've never seen any evidence that it was due to an inherent love of conservatives than because it's generally conservatives who are the most vocally pro-gun and anti-gun-control. They do endorse Democrats when they're the better candidate in terms of gun rights. (Unfortunately the candidate endorsements are behind a paywall, but I just pulled up a few races and particularly in the Southwest and Northeast, there are Democrats who got the NRA nod over Republicans in some 2008 races.)

The problem with any single-issue organization—and this is problem I've had with other organizations I support, including Planned Parenthood and the EFF—is that sometimes they end up supporting a candidate who has the "right" stance on the issue the organization stands for, but is facepalm-inducingly wrong on everything else. As someone who's pro-choice and pro-gun, I get that a lot, and I respect people who feel the same way on the issues but feel compelled to vote the other way on certain candidates because of the relative importance they place on different issues. To me, though, that's not a reason to refuse to support an organization (provided it remains true to the issue it's supposed to stand for), but it's a reason to find other organizations who represent how you feel on the other issues, and donate to them.

Sometimes it feels a bit like sailing upwind; you need to apply force very firmly in two almost-but-not-quite-opposite directions to eke out progress in the direction you really want to go.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:38 PM on August 20, 2009


[LGF link removed. Not your fault, m0nm0n, but Charles/LGF has a weird history of hyperreaction to mefi referral traffic and we pretty much avoid courting that at this point.]
posted by cortex at 3:45 PM on August 20, 2009


I can't believe there's even a discussion over whether or not it's cool to brandish firearms at a town hall meeting. It's intimidation, pure and simple, and is a behaviored mirrored by thugs the world over to give political opponents the message of the threat of violence.

I can appreciate what vorfeed is saying, that they're all attention whores hoping, praying for a reaction so that they can cry to the media. But on the other hand, so? What will they say? "They arrested me for bringing a gun to a town hall meeting"? There's two ways to respond to that: either continue to pander to lunatics in the interests of fairness with "Oh, gee, well, maybe you have a point" or we can cut the crap and say "You brought a GUN to a town hall meeting. The hell did you expect?" Marginalize these fools. Civilized people interested in the democratic process don't do things like this.

And I understand that they walk the edge of the law: staying just outside the property, being watched by Secret Service and what have you. But how many armed people outside a political rally constitutes a real threat of violence? Five? Fifty? Serious question here, I don't know the legalities.

Would arrests result in violence? I don't know, but what I do know is we can't sit back and let lunatics guide what's acceptable behavior until someone gets shot. Enough is enough.

I've always though the left should start it's own 2nd Amendment organization, though. Promoting responsible ownership, training, and incorporating disenfranchised groups - like gays and minorities - into the organization.

Meet Kenneth Blanchard.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:55 PM on August 20, 2009


Wow, they really have a thing about ACORN.
posted by Artw at 3:55 PM on August 20, 2009


But how many armed people outside a political rally constitutes a real threat of violence? Five? Fifty? Serious question here, I don't know the legalities.

I assume that's sort of up to the Secret Service guys there on the ground. Presumably they could just tell the protesters (or whatever you want to call them, "jackasses" would be fine) to keep moving back until they no longer constituted a threat or were in anybody's way. And if there were more of them than seemed manageable, I'd expect they'd have the right to order them to disperse.

The only good thing to come out of all this is an apparent confirmation that the professionalism of the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies, some of whom did some pretty squirrely stuff under the Bush Administration, doesn't seem to have been permanently affected. By all accounts they dealt with the guys with guns in a sane, sensible, and lawful manner. And in a way that didn't create a total clusterfuck and/or give the guys being dicks the PR they wanted.

The lesson here is, I think, you can obey the letter of the law and be an asshole, and you can enforce the law and not be one. The first part of that doesn't really come as a surprise, but I'm glad to see a demonstration of the second part.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:08 PM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Their candidate endorsements tend to be conservative, but I've never seen any evidence that it was due to an inherent love of conservatives than because it's generally conservatives who are the most vocally pro-gun and anti-gun-control.

I dunno. That's not true out west very often. The level they will stoop to paint a liberal candidate as a "gun-grabber", even if they do support over-all gun rights but are against gun show loop-holes, etc, is kinda shameful.

Howard Dean was endorsed by the NRA in Vermont. But. That was Vermont.

NRA endorsement grades are kinda mysterious. They only makes sense when you see them as a clear attempt to at being partisan.
posted by tkchrist at 4:22 PM on August 20, 2009


I can't believe there's even a discussion over whether or not it's cool to brandish firearms at a town hall meeting

'Brandish' has a very specific meaning when it comes to gun laws and enforcement. Simply open carrying a firearm is not it. Although I see your point that bringing the gun is a statement. I'd disagree with you that the statement is necessarily one of intimidation.

This man's actions certainly seem incongruous with a healthcare protest. However, I recall the numerous anti-war protests I've been too, and there were no shortage of off-topic protestors (anarchists fighting with police, anti-zionists, etc.) who showed up to voice their specific agenda that wasn't necessarily tied to the main goal of the protest. Same in this case.
posted by jsonic at 4:24 PM on August 20, 2009



The only good thing to come out of all this is an apparent confirmation that the professionalism of the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies, some of whom did some pretty squirrely stuff under the Bush Administration, doesn't seem to have been permanently affected.


They take thier jobs very seriously. The Service usually resents and resists being politicized.

In this case the job has been streamlined for them. They don't need to bother profiling anybody. When dudes show up openly armed to the teeth it makes shooting their asses a pretty clear cut deal.

Trust me. If one of those morons was in half a mile of Obama and had a finger stray to a trigger he'd be swiss cheese in half a second.
posted by tkchrist at 4:28 PM on August 20, 2009


Although I see your point that bringing the gun is a statement. I'd disagree with you that the statement is necessarily one of intimidation.

I'm pretty sure it's about intimidation, at least to some degree. These people might be trying to bring a 2nd ammendment argument to a health care debate if there'd been a history of them doing this at other venues in the past for other reasons. As this is making national headlines now, my guess is this activity is either very new or has recently spiked. Sure, there's probably a couple who do this sort of thing no matter what the occasion. But the whole thing smacks of the ol' banana republic tactic of having armed political opponents hanging out in front of polling places. Only in this case, it's near a location where people are trying to peacefully engage in the democratic process of talking about stuff, and it's sickening.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:36 PM on August 20, 2009


One of you crazy fuckers ('you' being Americans, not Mefites, I hasten to add) is going to end up shooting your president with a perfectly legal gun, and America's going to go into the death spiral that it's been very narrowly avoiding for a long time now. It just seems so sad and inevitable.

It's going to be interesting, but in the same way that a necrotizing bacterial infection is 'interesting'.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:38 PM on August 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


One of you crazy fuckers ('you' being Americans, not Mefites, I hasten to add) is going to end up shooting your president with a perfectly legal gun,

As far as I know, all the US presidents that have been shot, have been shot with perfectly legal guns.

Just, y'know, fyi.
posted by dersins at 4:45 PM on August 20, 2009


These people might be trying to bring a 2nd ammendment argument to a health care debate if there'd been a history of them doing this at other venues in the past for other reasons.

There is a history of open carry protests/actions. Gun owners in numerous states organize things such as open carry litter pick-ups. They go around doing services for the community while open carrying in an effort to show people that open carry is legal (a lot of people don't realize this) and that a person with a gun is not necessarily a crazy murderer to flee in panic from.

Like I said above, these healthcare meetings have been getting a lot of national news attention. I'm not really surprised that people with other right-leaning political issues would use these protests as a venue to promote their issue.

I don't know AR-15 guy's motivation for carrying at the protest. But his action certainly has brought the issue of open carry to a national limelight, which is more than other open carry actions have accomplished.
posted by jsonic at 4:48 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Grrr, I get home and see that a black hole ate the post I was trying to make before I had to run off to class.

Let me put it this way, in terms of what I mean by appearing middle class - in my city we've recently had a rash of very violent crime which has targeted students on or near various campuses in town. All of these students make significantly less money than I do, but dress about the same way I do, if not better. As such "appearing middle class" is what I mean - I mean that we look like people who would have things worth stealing, regardless of the color of our skin.

And afraid of black on white crime? HAH. I grew up in urban Atlanta, I'm FAR more afraid of crowds of white people than black. The most afraid for my own person I've ever been was in Athens during a football game weekend.

I'll not get into any more political philosophy here, but suffice to say that Just because Jefferson was in France at the time of the drafting of the Constitution doesn't mean he didn't have his hands in it. There is a huge body of scholarship that traces from the letters he was writing during the period directly to passages of the Constitution. And the bill of rights, while he thought necessary, was basically outlined in terms of content in several of his letters to Madison. As to a right to Rebellion in the Constitution? You have to understand the mindset of the framers - they were LIMITING government, by specifically outlining the rights IT and the States had, with the understanding that everything NOT covered by the constitution was free and clear.
posted by strixus at 5:01 PM on August 20, 2009


As far as I know, all the US presidents that have been shot, have been shot with perfectly legal guns.

Precisely.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:05 PM on August 20, 2009


But if guns are outlawed, then only outlaws will shoot Presidents and I don't really know where I'm going with this.
posted by cortex at 5:06 PM on August 20, 2009


daq: "Also, cops are required to keep their holstered weapons unloaded, since, you know, someone might come from behind and take their weapon from them in a moment of opportunity."

Wait, where are you from that this is standard for police officers. Cause that sure as hell isn't how we do it in Chicago, or any other town in Illinois I've spent time in. Police side arms are almost always loaded. Yes there is a chance of a loaded weapon being stolen, but this is why they have made locking holsters. With these you can not just draw the weapon back and out, but usually have to press down, rock forward then draw up. If you don't know how they work and try to just snatch a gun it does a good job of fucking up your day.
posted by MrBobaFett at 5:09 PM on August 20, 2009


Just out of curiosity, what do they do besides gun rights that bugs you? They seem like a fairly ideologically pure organization to me;

At the behest of Mitch McConnell, the NRA scored the confirmation vote for Sonia Sotomayor. This means that no Democrat can have an A+ rating from NRA, no matter how much they support the 2nd Amendment. The NRA has been all too willing to get involved in partisan issues that aren't specifically about guns.
posted by jonp72 at 5:51 PM on August 20, 2009


While it is clear that the AR-15 dude was working a media stunt the larger question here is where the fuck have these idiots been hiding for the past nine years or so? I often fantasized that a bunch of concerned citizens would start showing up at town hall meetings with their AR-15s to express their outrage at rigged elections, warrantless wiretapping, falsifying evidence for war, secret tribunals, etc. To me the story here is not "OMG! Gun-Toting Wingnuts!" but "Gun-Toting Wingnuts Historically Impotent, Oblivious and Apathetic to Actual Violations of Constitutional Rights." These dipshits would line up for the bus to the internment center if they could bring their guns with them.
posted by well_balanced at 6:07 PM on August 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


The most afraid for my own person I've ever been was in Athens during a football game weekend.

So many lethal shootings during those weekends, yes.
posted by raysmj at 6:30 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm ready, man, check it out. I am the ultimate badass! State of the badass art! You do NOT wanna fuck with me. Check it out! Hey Ripley, don't worry. Me and my squad of ultimate badasses will protect you! Check it out! Independently targeting particle beam phalanx. Vwap! Fry half a city with this puppy. We got tactical smart missiles, phase-plasma pulse rifles, RPGs, we got sonic electronic ball breakers! We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks...
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:45 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The dude in that time photograph is not just open carrying. He is wearing iconography that pretty clearly links back to John Wilkes Booth's "Death to Tyrants."

You know, the guy who shot Lincoln.

I really just don't think THAT guy is making a statement about open carry so much as he's saying, "I think someone, maybe me, since you see my big ass gun here, should shoot a tyrant. Like the black, presidential one that is here today."
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:46 PM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Somebody wake up Hicks.
posted by Scoo at 6:47 PM on August 20, 2009


CARRYING iconography. Not wearing. And it's Time. I'm apparently tired.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:48 PM on August 20, 2009


*Pop*

POP*POP*POP*POP*POP*POP*POP*POP*POP*POP*POP*POP*
posted by rigby51 at 6:56 PM on August 20, 2009


The first thing I'd do if I had a time machine is go back to when the 2nd Amendment was being deliberated and insist that the writers clarify WTF they meant. It is as if the original intent was put into a Japanese translator and then translated back into English.

Funny you should say that...
posted by Evilspork at 7:11 PM on August 20, 2009


Damn, beaten to the punch. Mine has nukes, though!
posted by Evilspork at 7:12 PM on August 20, 2009


"Reloading like this...


...is a revolution!"
posted by fuq at 7:15 PM on August 20, 2009


Artw: Shining laser pointers on these dudes would be the funnest last game ever. And legal!

FTFY.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:39 PM on August 20, 2009


klangklangston: On the other hand, one of the best things that could happen for health care is for one of these armed idiots to get a shot off that comes anywhere near the president (obviously the ideal is to have it hit no one), because damn, it'd be so easy to round these morons up...

Not to get high and mighty, klangklang, but this strikes me as more than a tad irresponsible. Whether someone gets hit or not (even the risk of someone getting shot is sensitive with a lot of people, which is why they perceive coming to an event like this armed inflammatory), I'm not real comfortable with the ensuing wholesale roundup of right wingers you project. From what I've seen, birther, Obama-as-Nazi, water-the-tree types actually think this is going to happen. Joke's not funny.

We can win health care on the merits, guys: the polls say so and the facts say so.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:44 PM on August 20, 2009


The first thing I'd do if I had a time machine is go back to when the 2nd Amendment was being deliberated and insist that the writers clarify WTF they meant.

A slight problem being that they have never known the weapons we are seeking clarification for.
posted by Brian B. at 8:26 PM on August 20, 2009


Rights do not mean license. Why cant anyone seem to learn this.
posted by MrLint at 8:44 PM on August 20, 2009


Oh, good. I thought my computer was going nuts but I see others had posting problems too. So, to wind up:

However, such a "right" [to rebel]is not written or implied in the Constitution. A founding father's personal thoughts or beliefs do not qualify as a Constitutional right.

Remember that the next time we talk about the separation of Church and State.

As for the NRA (I still think their motto should be "Aiming For You") - I'd join that with a bunch of buddies to see if we could start making waves. Imagine the meetups?

I've been pondering getting a concealed carry license for a while; this may be time to do it. Not because I'm afraid of the government, but because I'm afraid of the folk who say they're afraid of the government. I don't seriously think I could out draw somebody, but if confronted with a gun I would have more knowledge of what I'm facing and might be able to deal better.
posted by lysdexic at 9:25 PM on August 20, 2009


Not because I'm afraid of the government, but because I'm afraid of the folk who say they're afraid of the government.

This. For the first time since I was a 12 year old boy, I'm actually wondering whether I should consider purchasing a firearm. Because I'm getting a little leery about the combination of tinfoil hats and assault weapons that seems to be popping up on the right side of the aisle.
posted by dersins at 9:35 PM on August 20, 2009


empath has it.

All this talk about whether there's a constitutionally defined right to armed revolt? It's like children who can't run away from home because they're not allowed to cross the street. If you're at the point of armed revolt then it doesn't matter if you're allowed to do it... you're just going to do it.

Not really sure why this is worth this level of analysis.
posted by Riki tiki at 9:48 PM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, cops are required to keep their holstered weapons unloaded, since, you know, someone might come from behind and take their weapon from them in a moment of opportunity.

Not true, unless you're talking about rent-a-cops.

My husband carries loaded on-duty. He's also licensed to carry loaded off-duty, but he doesn't (his gun comes off and stays off whenever he's out of uniform). The only officers we know who carry off-duty are the young rookies who are still starry-eyed with cops-and-robbers fantasies. The older, more mature officers know that the risks of walking around with a loaded gun outweigh the "benefits."

Truth be told, the police have far more headaches dealing with misguided, albeit law-abiding, gun toters than they do with criminals. As my husband says, "They have a right to be a gun owner. They also have a right to be a fucking idiot. That doesn't mean they should be both at the same time."
posted by amyms at 11:14 PM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


To repeal the Second Amendment, the following things need to happen: (1) A repealing amendment must be proposed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress; (2) a simple majority in the legislatures of thirty-eight of the fifty States must ratify the repealing amendment.

Whether this is "politically impossible" is uncertain. The odds of it happening seem to me to be much greater in the aftermath of a gunfight at a town meeting that incidentally killed members of Congress and/or state politicians, especially where that gunfight was clearly provoked by obnoxious and despicable individuals who are obviously irresponsible Second Amendment exploiters rather than responsible supporters (an important distinction).

I suspect this is why the NRA are staying so quiet about it, to be able to make that distinction should it be necessary.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:12 AM on August 21, 2009


Not because I'm afraid of the government, but because I'm afraid of the folk who say they're afraid of the government.

This. For the first time since I was a 12 year old boy, I'm actually wondering whether I should consider purchasing a firearm.


Well yee fucking ha! Let's all load up and square off. That's exactly what this country needs.

Grow the motherfuck up!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:15 AM on August 21, 2009


My response to this thread apparently got eaten yesterday. I'm pleasantly surprised that the police and Secret Service are handling these gun-toting protesters with so much class and aplomb, in the wake of the policies observed under Bush regarding peaceful dissenters.

daq: I could go on, but seriously, the ignorance of all of this is beyond my ability to deal with at the moment. Ignorant rage is like a retard with a swollen brain. You either tranquilize it and try and cure the infection, or you put it down, hard. Otherwise it is just going to continue being loud and disruptive, and seriously remove any possibility of a civilized society.

This is one of the most fucked-up things I've ever read on MeFi. I'm surprised the mods left it up, but all the better to see your ignorance displayed openly. You're advocating forced euthanasia of developmentally impaired individuals stricken with illness. Way to go.

jonp72: Saul Cornell's A Well-Regulated Militia argues that the Second Amendment does not merely confer the right to bear arms, but confers an obligation to bear arms in defense of the country. This is something the militia movement never seems to keen to emphasize. Because if you make gun ownership an obligation, gun ownership will no longer be disproportionately concentrated among guys with Confederate flag decals on their pick-up trucks, but instead gun ownership will be spread across many heterogeneous social groups, ranging from the Unitarian church social club to the gay couple who lives down the block.

In Kennesaw, Georgia, gun ownership is an obligation, although the UU Church social club members are probably among the most likely to claim "conscientious objector" status to the statute.
posted by notashroom at 7:48 AM on August 21, 2009


People like this, who show up in public with their firearms, completely infuriate me. I love guns. I have many, and I'll happily defend my ownership of them here or anywhere else. But these assholes are the guys who are ruining the party for everyone.

I've spent ages trying to get people to understand that for a lot of us gun owners, it's not about power or fear, it's just an honest love of the technology and an enjoyment of the skill involved in going to a range and doing everything right. I don't hunt, I don't think of them in terms of self defense, I look at them as engineering and historical marvels.

But then jagoffs like this make an appearance and I suddenly find myself having to have conversations like "Oh yeah, I love my AR. It's loads of fun to shoot. Oh that guy on TV? No nothing like him, he's an idiot trying to make a statement in the worst way possible. Yes, mine is similar, but it's in a locked case at home. No I have no idea why someone would think what he's doing makes sense."

I'm suddenly beginning to understand what moderate religious people feel when they see Fred Phelps types zealots in the news; shame and a desire to distance myself from people that I share an unfortunate connection to.
posted by quin at 8:16 AM on August 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


tkchrist: "NRA endorsement grades are kinda mysterious. They only makes sense when you see them as a clear attempt to at being partisan."

I don't think this is true. I agree they should make their methodology more transparent, but I've seen the questionnaires they send out, which form the biggest component of their "grades" (the other component is voting records, and yeah there is a wishy-washy subjectiveness to that), and they're pretty much what you'd expect. It asks a lot of questions about 'do you agree or disagree with x', repeated for virtually every gun-related issue you could imagine. The form is actually a Scantron-type thing.

For a new candidate the grade is determined almost completely by the questionnaire, but for incumbents it's determined more and more by voting records. (And if a candidate's voting doesn't match their responses to the survey that's kind of instant death; the assumption is that they were lying and should not be relied on.) I don't know exactly what sort of formula they use—presumably they don't want to release it lest people game it, sort of like Google's magic ranking formulas—but having had family and friends up in New England who've been sent surveys and gotten NRA grades (almost all of whom were Democrats), they've never been particularly out of line with what I would have expected.

Obviously they're partisan in the sense that they want 'their people' to win, where 'their people' are the ones who have voted in favor of gun rights issues in the past and therefore (in their view) can be relied upon to do the right thing going forward, but I think that's the case with any single-issue organization, and particularly at the lower levels of politics (municipal and state races), I've seen them be party-neutral.

As to the gun show 'loophole' business, I guess that's one of the issues where you either agree with their stance or don't, but—and I don't really want to derail into a discussion of gun shows—the issue isn't exactly clear-cut. The people going after the "loophole" seem to be doing it more for ideological grounds than because many guns from shows actually end up being used in crimes; there doesn't seem to be much practical justification for changing anything, given the impact it would have on legitimate gun owners. It's pretty clearly more a case of political theater—politicians looking for something they can do to add to their resumé at election time—than any real effort to thwart crime. So within that context, and given that a lot of gun owners go to gun shows and feel pretty strongly that they ought to exist and aren't harming anyone, I don't think the NRA's stance is that odd.

The NRA does do some stuff from time to time that I think is bullshit: their opposition to an anti-puppy-mill law in North Carolina a while back (on the grounds that it would affect people who hunt with or breed hunting dogs) was obnoxious and an obvious sop to members who only care about guns in the context of hunting, and I was glad that the measure seems to have passed despite it. The odd part was that when I brought this up to some people from the NRA's Washington office (the ILA; their quasi-separate lobbying organization) they mostly seemed in agreement, which makes me think there is more factionalization going on than is obvious at the surface of what appears to be a monolithic organization.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:05 AM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well yee fucking ha! Let's all load up and square off. That's exactly what this country needs.

Grow the motherfuck up!


That's not what I meant, but you knew that. You're just shit-stirring.
posted by dersins at 10:07 AM on August 21, 2009


Patriots convince. Traitors intimidate.
posted by kjs3 at 11:41 AM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of my least favorite things about the political discourse over the past decade in this country is the way the Right has reflexively shrieked "traitor!" every time someone disagreed with them. Can we please not spend the next eight years doing the same thing to them?

These people are idiots, sure. They're ignorant and they're annoying and they're dead wrong. But they're not traitors.
posted by EarBucket at 2:22 PM on August 21, 2009


That said, tempers run so high at these things that introducing loaded AR-15s just makes it that much more likely that somebody's going to do something stupid and hurt or kill someone.

Yes, that'll probably also solve things. Breaking some eggs.
posted by rokusan at 5:00 PM on August 21, 2009


(Um, by which I mean that after such an incident, a stronger law enforcement response would then have strong public support and this nonsense would end. Not that the incident itself would be a good thing. Lazy writer.)
posted by rokusan at 5:01 PM on August 21, 2009




“As far as I know, all the US presidents that have been shot, have been shot with perfectly legal guns.”
Good thing most assassinations are done by explosive then. And worldwide yeah, those terrorist groups like the Grey Wolves might shoot Popes, but no way they’d ignore firearm laws. I mean where would a paramilitary outfit get firearms if they were illegal (especially in Greece, where the gun laws are supposed to be tough)?
Maybe they’d just stab people?

Assassination isn't that much of a problem along these lines (not that it's off the table).

That said, no, I think these particular folks are out of line.
I’m armed to the teeth. I make Wayne LaPierre look like Rosie O’Donnell. But if I’m talking nice with Aunt Bidie’s friend from the library, I’m not cleaning my pistols on the table or sighting in my rifles while they’re around.

One of the pleasures (and very rarely occasional downsides) of this site is that I’m fairly intimidating in person and that’s not a factor here. Not just physically, but I’m a willful guy. And I’m pretty direct and forceful in making a point. I don’t mean anything by it. I just get excited and passionate on some topics.

Some jolly guy like Leo Buscalia gets excited, people still talk to him. Me, people stand off. So I often don’t get a straight answer. And I get a lot of talking behind my back. Which is irritating because I respect a straight answer and I’m always open to reasonable discussion. But some folks maybe a bit nervous around a muscular guy with a lot of scars and a defense department haircut. So I tend to rein it in. Sometimes I get an honest answer and time for reconciliation and understanding of our respective positions. (Here I get people telling me ‘go fuck yourself’ which is a bit of a treat, if it’s at all a reasoned argument)

Carrying a firearm in an open fashion like this to a public meeting, to me, screams the opposite. (more below)

“It's an inherent right. Which by its very nature is impossible to recognize legally. Though I think any sort of armed revolution is going to pay lip service to 'protecting' the Constitution, rather than overthrowing it.”

Well, you’re not wrong, but here I think the problem is these folks are conflating that with legitimate authority and legitimate discourse in a public forum.

Legitimacy cannot be bestowed simply by bearing arms. It must be done in a certain manner. Force may be recognized, but only the will of the people can give it legitimacy.

So, on the one hand, yes, I recognize the 2nd amendment as having firearms symbolize resistance to one’s government (as well as in practical application).

But the mistake is conflating resistance to tyranny with interrupting legitimate political discourse. There are no circumstances under which these folks’ rights would be denied at these town hall meetings that would require bearing arms to safeguard them. Personal defense, other needs, perhaps, but open carry is a silly way to go about that. So I do have questions as to their intent.

But whatever the intent, the practical upshot is to intimidate with the possibility of disrupting honest public debate on this issue – essentially subverting the will of the people.

Traitors? I don't know. But I can’t think of anything more antithetical to the spirit of the second amendment.

(And, viscerally, I’d be more than happy to illustrate the practical defense limits open holstered handguns have in close quarter engagements.)
posted by Smedleyman at 5:30 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


But the mistake is conflating resistance to tyranny with interrupting legitimate political discourse. There are no circumstances under which these folks’ rights would be denied at these town hall meetings that would require bearing arms to safeguard them.

Bingo.
posted by amyms at 7:41 PM on August 21, 2009


Fear is a hell of a drug.

I love how there were so many crazy lies told about Obama during the campaign, that nobody really has any idea of how to hate him properly.

He's a Black Ivy League Socialist Nazi secret Muslim that belongs to a crazy Christian church, hangs out with terrorists, wasn't born in this country, eats arugula, and hates White people, religion and guns...oops, almost forgot. He's also the Anti-Christ, as predicted by the Book of Revelations.

If you're crazy, that's a lot to process. If I was soft-headed, and prone to believing what was on FOX, I would pack some heat if I heard he was coming to my town. What's to say he's not going to transform into some sort of winged liberal man-demon and fly into the crowd, shoot me with his cyborg eye-lasers and fly off with my firstborn child?

The Guns don't surprise me. I'm surprised people aren't showing up with pitchforks and crude torches.
posted by billyfleetwood at 9:29 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mastercheddaar, the Constitution does not give rights, particularly those enumerated in the Bill of Rights, but protects them. Were the 2nd Amendment not to exist, the right would still be covered under the 9th Amendment, and certainly the federal government would be prevented from infringing by the 10th Amendment, which makes it a state issue if anything. And it wouldn't matter if there was an explicit infringement because it's an inalienable right.

It is a fundamental right of human beings to defend themselves from attack and further, a responsibility to defend those under one's care. Restricting this right to those with the physical ability to do so is discriminatory and counter to all civil rights principles.

explosion, the Supreme Court disagreed with you on the scope of the 2nd Amendment when, in DC v Heller, they ruled that the right to bear arms is indeed an individual right. This is consistent with the wording used in that amendment being the exact same used to refer to the wording of other amendments, which also protect individual rights. It's also consistent with the sentiments of every single individual involved in either the American Revolution or the drafting of the Constitution that ever wrote anything on the topic.

While I have a somewhat different perspective than adamrice and EarBucket, I agree with the basic trend of their analysis. That said, it's worth pointing out that this is the first time Obama and the rest have deigned to appear and make a pretense of dialog about their grand plans, or even give a heads-up, let alone the "5 days advance notice and comment period". And it's quite well known that Obama has a particular antipathy toward those who would exercise their right to bear arms. (Let me note here before someone paints me into some ideological corner that in 2002 I was calling Bush's administration "tyrants")

Amidst all the handwringing, I do notice that all these people assembled peacably (well, sort of) to petition the government for a redress of grievances, carrying their legal weapons, and participated in the public discussion, such as it is. And yet even when situations got heated they never devolved into a hail of gunfire. Something to ponder, and hope it stays that way.
posted by vsync at 12:38 AM on August 22, 2009


And BTW whatever sketchy things the Black Panthers may have ever gotten up to, I'm of the opinion that armed shows of force was one of the best things they ever did for their communities.
posted by vsync at 12:40 AM on August 22, 2009


And it's quite well known that Obama has a particular antipathy toward those who would exercise their right to bear arms.

How so? This list shows some pretty common-sense attitudes with regards to gun control (letting local governments determine gun laws, for example) and saying things such as "I think it’s important for us to recognize that we’ve got a tradition of handgun ownership and gun ownership generally. And a lot of law-abiding citizens use it for hunting, for sportsmanship, and for protecting their families. We also have a violence on the streets that is the result of illegal handgun usage. And so I think there is nothing wrong with a community saying we are going to take those illegal handguns off the streets. And cracking down on the various loopholes that exist in terms of background checks for children, the mentally ill. We can have reasonable, thoughtful gun control measure that I think respect the Second Amendment and people’s traditions." Where is the antipathy? The one-gun-purchase-per-month limit? The support of the assault weapons ban, the DC handgun ban? I'm not seeing what makes Obama particularly antipathic towards people who want to own guns.

I don't think there's anything wrong with local governments or the federal government saying who can carry what sort of weapons, and under what circumstances. A lot of people interpret this as infringement. I think most of it is just common sense.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:51 AM on August 22, 2009


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing:

What's an "illegal handgun"? Sounds like a fnord to me. He talks about "illegal handgun usage" which is valid — certainly shooting someone without good reason is illegal usage — and then subtly changes that into "illegal handguns".

What are "assault weapons"? You should say that he is against all concealed carry and all semiautomatic firearms. (Concealed carry wouldn't be necessary if not for many locations banning open carry, and for all the guff people get for open carry when it's legal.)

But retired cops get to have handguns. Legislators who campaign constantly against the right of you or I to carry a handgun carry handguns.

The local government issue is arguable. But I notice you went blithely past my mention of the 10th Amendment to say that you don't see anything wrong with the federal government making rules on who can carry which sort of weapon, while the Constitution specifically reserves any function not specifically delegated to the federal government to the states, or to the people. I find it sad you think it's "just common sense" to ignore the principles and clear specific wording in our nation's supreme law.
posted by vsync at 1:12 AM on August 22, 2009


I'm not "blithely ignoring" anything, dude. I think it is common sense that there are limits to what kind of weapons can be owned, by whom, and under what circumstances. And specifically, I said "local governments or the federal government".

And I'd also still like to know what makes Obama "particularly antipathic" to gun owners, because it sounds to me like he's pretty much in line with moderate Democratic views of gun ownership rather than some sort of gun-grabbing antipathic Maoist or whatever.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:24 AM on August 22, 2009


Then why did you throw the federal government in there? It's a pretty big distinction.

I'd still like to know what an "illegal handgun" or an "assault weapon" are. I'd also like to know why it's useful to draw a line at semiautomatic firearms rather than frickin' mortars or something that can me much more easily argued to be a difference of kind rather than degree.

I meant that Obama is antipathic toward gun owners in particular, not that he is particularly antipathic.

BTW Mao was a jerk but I don't have a problem with socialism in theory as long as it's implemented legally. Meaning no takings without compensation and due process, and changes to the scope and structure of government need to follow constitutional amendment process. Oh and I'd probably want to opt out of a lot of it because I think a lot of what has given the US success so far has been that it's a place with more risk but more opportunity. A frontier. I know several people who immigrated here specificially because taxes and regulations in their home country made it more amenable to start a business here, then complain about the lack of government regulations and entitlement programs once they have theirs.
posted by vsync at 1:31 AM on August 22, 2009


Then why did you throw the federal government in there? It's a pretty big distinction.

Because I don't mind federal gun laws enforcing who may own what kinds of weapons under what circumstances. I think federal law can give us a consistency of law across the country, and is useful when national consistency is necessary. When it isn't, we have state laws. My opinion is that with regards to who may own what kinds of weapons and under what circumstances, that consistency is strongly advised.

I'd still like to know what an "illegal handgun" or an "assault weapon" are. I'd also like to know why it's useful to draw a line at semiautomatic firearms rather than frickin' mortars or something that can me much more easily argued to be a difference of kind rather than degree.

My understanding of "illegal handgun" means it's unregistered and/or illegally purchased. "Assault weapon" is a political term, and which firearm is or isn't one varies from person to person, and from local to state to federal levels. If you're asking for my personal opinion on it, I'd say an assault weapon is either fully automatic or capable of firing armor-piercing ammunition (unless such ammunition can be fired by any firearm; it's been a while since I've hung out with my gun-owning friends) on upwards.

I meant that Obama is antipathic toward gun owners in particular, not that he is particularly antipathic.

Eh, kind of the same thing, at least in the sense that "his policies are more anti-gun than is 'the norm'", which I don't see to be the case.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:47 AM on August 22, 2009


I'd say an assault weapon is either fully automatic or capable of firing armor-piercing ammunition (unless such ammunition can be fired by any firearm; it's been a while since I've hung out with my gun-owning friends) on upwards.

That's not an unreasonable definition on the surface, but there are two problems with it: one, you are correct in your guess that just about any rifle can fire "armor piercing" ammunition. (Of course, then you have to define "armor piercing" ammunition, because that's a term that's been abused into meaningless too. True armor piercing ammunition, M995 "black tips" in military parlance, is not widely available. Just about any old rifle bullet will pierce a Kevlar vest, because such vests aren't usually designed to stop handgun bullets. So you need to decide exactly what you mean there.)

As for the full-auto part, that would be reasonable, except there's already a fairly precise term of art that's accepted both legally and in the firearms world for those weapons: they're called "machine guns." And they're already very heavily regulated at the Federal level and have been since 1934.

The result is that "assault weapon" gets used as a catchall term for "whatever guns we think are scary-looking and we can get away with banning this week," and the definition is dangerously fluid. Rather than any meaningful technical differences, attempts to legally define them have hinged on cosmetic properties. The whole thing reeks of a very ugly sort of opportunist populism; riling up the public and using fear to go after a class of guns that aren't commonly used in crime, and their owners who use them mostly for target shooting.

It's a cheap shot politically, and one of the easiest ways of seeing whether a politician is actually interested in a meaningful and rational discussion of crime control, or is just interested in scoring some points by beating up on a minority of gun owners who by and large have and never will hurt anyone. Insofar as Obama continues to bring it up periodically, it shows he has little interest in rational conversation with gun owners regarding ways to control crime.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:34 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Correction to parenthetical sentence in the first paragraph, above:

(Of course, then you have to define "armor piercing" ammunition, because that's a term that's been abused into meaningless too. True armor piercing ammunition, e.g. M995 "black tips" in military parlance, is not widely available. Just about any old rifle bullet will pierce a Kevlar vest, because such vests are usually designed to stop handgun bullets. So you need to decide exactly what you mean there.)

Why is it I always catch these things after I hit Post?
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:36 AM on August 22, 2009


And BTW whatever sketchy things the Black Panthers may have ever gotten up to, I'm of the opinion that armed shows of force was one of the best things they ever did for their communities.

That's really only if true you exclude the actual things they actually did for communities, which were usually pretty awesome, as well as the fact that their "armed shows of force" were basically what bumped them up from benevolent black hippies to Communist Terrorists. Furthermore, the armed presence of the Black Panthers paved the way for the actual weapons usage by advocates of leftist causes (WU, SLA, Manson, MOVE), giving them all a bad name, and ultimately spoiling what could have been a very good thing.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:40 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why is it I always catch these things after I hit Post?

Itchy trigger finger?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:43 AM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]




That's really only if true you exclude the actual things they actually did for communities, which were usually pretty awesome
Agreed. Wasn't trying to slur them but rather trying to say I'd heard they got up to a few sketchy things from time to time. Not by and large.

Just saying that I've heard complaints about them and insofar as they come down to them marching in the streets with guns I have no problem with it and even encourage it. To further dissuade the inevitable argument that I'm a rightist, or a racist, or whatever.
as well as the fact that their "armed shows of force" were basically what bumped them up from benevolent black hippies to Communist Terrorists.
I hope I'm reading sarcasm correctly in your caps.

Asserting your rights in a society set against you can be uncomfortable but it is sometimes necessary.

I've read credible arguments — in resources that unfortunately I can't dig up and link due to being up to my ears in work — that the existence of the Black Panthers and their arms was a significant factor in the success of the nonviolent civil rights movement. Basically given a choice between armed revolution and relatively minor legal concessions, the power base chose to negotiate with the nonviolent activists when they wouldn't have otherwise. It was before my time so I can't comment firsthand.

I've also read (or heard, maybe on NPR?) about small southern towns where the black residents armed themselves and were thereby saved from the Klan who had chosen their particular town for their marauding. I don't doubt the veracity, or certainly at least the plausibility, because the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide are illustrations of what happens when a marginalized minority is disarmed by their government.
posted by vsync at 2:54 PM on August 25, 2009


Out of Control
posted by homunculus at 7:40 PM on August 28, 2009


Ok, on reflection I've decided that this is just a publicity stunt and that no one who really intended to do harm would carry their weapon openly to one of these events. Still, it doesn't make me too happy that the guy with AR15 was listening to this the day before the rally:
... you're going to tell me that I'm supposed to pray for the socialist devil, murderer, infanticide, who wants to see young children and he wants to see babies killed through abortion and partial-birth abortion and all these different things -- you're gonna tell me I'm supposed to pray for God to give him a good lunch tomorrow while he's in Phoenix, Arizona?

Nope. I'm not gonna pray for his good. I'm going to pray that he dies and goes to hell.
For all the sensationalism and out-of-context quotation around Pastor Wright, I'd sure like it if somebody'd do an expose on the kind of Christianity they have in AZ.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:51 AM on August 29, 2009


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