Conservatives did not hesitate to point out that the man packing an assault rifle stood closest to pro-reform (i.e. liberal) signs. But their criticism, needless to say, hits most sharply against gun-rights advocates who tend to fall on the right. How have their readers reacted? This exchange between commenters at Confederate Yankee gives a sense of the torn feelings:
From RickInTexas: As a gun owner I am in full support of the right to carry. To do so within a mile of the Presidents travel route or outside any place he is appearing can only create problems for the rest of us. All that it did was give the MSM a chance to say "See. We told you the protesters are kooks."
Why have conservative bloggers taken a stand, even at the cost of provoking readers? Some of it seems to be uneasiness that guns in angry crowds could unleash disaster. Generally, however, they believe the taint of irrationality is hurting the gun-rights' cause in the long run.
From TailGunner: There should have been two THOUSAND men AND women openly carrying in a responsible manner.
It would have been a bit harder to dismiss them as 'kooks'...
And if a man has a right to openly carry a firearm, I see no reason to restrict that while he is not in a police station, city hall, or other traditionally prohibited area.
The Constitution should not be suspended wherever and whenever the President is in the vicinity.
Here are the bloggers' main complaints:
- Degrades the Quality of Debate, says Uncle Jimbo at BlackFive. "It's not about the right to carry it's about what bringing guns to an ideas fight says. It says you are a sensationalizing dipshit who craves attention and doesn't care if you hurt your supposed argument."
- Disaster Waiting to Happen, says the Confederate Yankee. "As much as I support the open carry movement in theory, I have a very hard time seeing open carry at a political event full of people as anything other than a very bad idea. It is needlessly provocative (and I suspect in many instances, purposefully so), and potentially dangerous."
- Rights Come With Responsibilities, says Allahpundit. "As I've said before, it's a security risk and a de facto provocation to the other side. And having the right to do it is no more of a justification than bringing porn to a meeting with the president would be. Exit question: Why?"
- Guns Don't Belong Everywhere, says Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit. "Assuming that these aren't agents provocateurs but rather militant gun-rights activists trying to counter "denormalization," well, I think this is a bad idea and I'd urge them to reconsider. Barbecue joints are one thing, Presidential appearances another."
So when does carrying a loaded weapon to a president's speaking event become a threat? Does the right to bear arms at some point give way to the ability of police and Secret Service to reasonably protect the president?