Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Wednesday, November 13th, 2013.

Free Speech and the Barrel of a Gun


Dahlia Lithwick and Christian Turner write about the meatheads armed citizens who met outside a Moms Demand Action meeting to bully mothers for a photo op.

Apparently such “demonstrations” are becoming more common. The gun-toters believe they are doing a public service by educating people.

But according to OCT [Open Carry Texas], they are neither intentionally nor knowingly attempting to cause alarm. They argue that intimidation is not a problem because “we are very clear that our objective is to educate, not alarm. In other words, we are only KNOWINGLY and INTENTIONALLY engaging in conduct meant to raise awareness and educate.” In their view, what they are doing is pure speech. If bystanders opt to be alarmed by it, well, that’s their problem. As OCT says on its website, its main purpose is to communicate. They seek only to “educate Texans about their right to openly carry rifles and shotguns in a safe manner” and to “condition Texans to feel safe around law-abiding citizens that choose to carry them.” It’s like Schoolhouse Rock for the Charlton Heston contingent….

…Gun-toting protestors of course claim that their speech is not about preparedness to kill but about changing that cultural reading: to show that good guys (and their children!) carry guns; that seeing a gun does not mean that someone is about to be shot; that you too can carry a gun in this way; that it’s your inalienable right to do so! The problem is that carrying a gun only says all these things if it also says that the carrier is prepared to kill someone. What open carriers hope to normalize, then, what they hope we all come to accept, is that having instant access to the means to kill is not a scary thing.

To which we say: Good luck with that.


Open Carry Texas sent MDA an email that read, “People are ‘getting used’ to seeing and being around guns and police have come to accept it and don’t even question us anymore. What we are doing is working and society is coming to view the sight of ‘military style rifles’ in public as just another normal thing. Isn’t that a good thing?”

OK, so my question is, on what planet would that be a “good thing”? And more important: What does the world look like from inside the head of someone who actually thinks living where everyone is walking around armed to the teeth is a “good thing”?

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