How not to protest: with guns

| Forum Editor

Monday’s Washington Post ran an article about an “open carry” demonstration whereby dozens of protestors gathered on the Virginia side of the Potomac River with a variety of loaded and unloaded weaponry to protest what they view as violations of the United States Constitution. Interestingly enough, their grievances have nothing to do with the Second Amendment or gun rights whatsoever. Instead, according to organizer Daniel Almond, the group is upset about health care reform, bank bailouts, climate initiatives and other presumably unconstitutional government initiatives.

If the protest were about gun rights and gun rights alone, their demonstration would have be rather fitting. Like it or not, lining up with guns to protest is a pretty logical response to infringements on gun rights. Lining up on the banks of the Potomac with guns simply because you’re not a fan of anything Barrack Obama has done, conversely, is a horrendous idea.

The more radical elements of the political right have taken guns and elevated them to an iconic representation of liberty. Instead of considering guns as simply another right, in their minds guns are the embodiment of their resistance to the government. Their own paranoid belief is that weapons are the only thing keeping the big, bad government at bay. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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What these increasingly dangerous gun nuts are doing is undermining their own credibility and future ability to demonstrate. Right now, they stand on the verge of crossing the line into criminal territory. Do not get me wrong, the U.S. Constitution provides for “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The problem is not that they’re lining up with guns trying to intimidate the government. Instead it’s a question of what’s next. What actions will the rampant paranoia of these people lead to?

The Second Amendment clearly states, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” People ought to be free to purchase a gun to hunt with or use for their own defense. Where rationality diverges from the thinking of these people is the notion that we need guns to defend ourselves from the government. That sentiment will only lead to some mentally unbalanced person causing the gun mob to become violent at the worst possible time: while they’re parading their loaded guns around the borders of the capital.

These so-called defenders of guns and liberty ought to do a little more research into the actual law of the land before they go pushing the boundaries of peaceful assemblage. The Insurrection Act of 1807, twice amended and now restored to its original language, provides the President of the United States the power to use armed forces to suppress demonstrations or rebellious groups who interfere with the ability of the government to carry out the law. So far, the paranoid, gun-toting right wing has yet to break any laws. They just stand in armed opposition to Federal law. But what happens if or when they go too far? Violent acts against congressmen have already happened in retaliation to voting for or against various pieces of legislation. It’s merely a hop, skip and a jump until these people do something really stupid while they’re waving their weapons around and the military is called in.

Demonstrating against the government is a freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, but it must be peaceful. Trying to intimidate Congress and the President with weapons is a recipe for disaster. People need to start thinking with their heads. They may not like what the government has been doing recently—half of America hates what’s going on—but they need to be smart enough to realize that shaking an angry fist and a loaded weapon at the White House is a futile and dangerous idea. Daniel Almond’s gun nuts need to step back a bit. Waving a Sig P226 around in the air will at best accomplish nothing and, at worst, get someone arrested or killed. If people want to protest the government, they need to be rational and non-threatening about it. Right now, the only thing their guns are doing is blowing holes in their credibility and making our nation a little less secure.

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