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”?

32 thoughts on “Free Speech and the Barrel of a Gun

  1. I would like to nominate “to openly carry rifles and shotguns in a safe manner” for the Oxymoron Hall of Fame.

  2. How are these people going to feel when the Black Panthers start openly carrying assault rifles? How are they going to feel when practicing Muslims start carrying them? Why do I get the feeling that these people think that open carry of military style rifles is just great, but only if the people doing the carrying are white males?

    • charluckles — The biggest problem with righties is that they can’t imagine a world in which they are not privileged. Well, they can imagine one, which is why they want to carry guns, but they can’t imagine a peaceful, happy world in which they are not privileged. So they don’t think the Golden Rule applies to them. You cannot explain to them that they can’t insist on, say, allowing public school teachers to lead Christian prayers unless they are also willing to allow public school teachers to lead Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist prayers. You can’t tell them that they can’t insist on being armed everywhere they go unless they are OK with nonwhites and men wearing taqiyahs or kufis openly carrying guns, too. Or, if they are OK with the latter, it’s probably because they hope Those People will act up so they can be shot down with impunity.

  3. Stephen: and the proponents don’t need the “oxy-“.

    Texas or not, these idiots need to spend a few nights under observation in the county jail. Guns are not protected speech– guns are bullying, intimidation. Cops had NO qualms about pepper spraying peaceful demonstrators Occupying streets and campuses a few years ago. Let’s see them engage people who truly present a threat to the peace.

  4. They open-carry weapons, because if they openly-carried their peckers they couldn’t even be charged with “Indecent Exposure” – because it would take a magnifying-glass to find the evidence.

    And that’s if the people in attendance at their open-carrying pecker display, had the wherewithal to stop laughing and peeing themselves, to even wonder if they brought a magnifying-glass in the first place!

    How, FSM, did I ever survive tending bar in the East Village of NY back in the early-mid 80’s, where I had to walk along the Bowery, or another avenue, for about 9 blocks – as late/early as 4am t0 5 am, with pockets full of money, without a gun?

    Not ONE of these gutless cowards would walk those yuppified streets in broad daylight, unarmed, NOW!
    C’mon, WUSSIES! I DARE’S YA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This isn’t about their “rights.”
    It’s about the subjugation of women, minorities, and especially Liberals, through fear.

    And, much as we’d all love to mock these gutless cowards, it’s tough to mock people – mostly men – who are carrying guns.
    And THAT’S why they carry them.
    Because without them, they’d be MOCKED RELENTLESSLY!
    And THAT is what they fear the most.
    They will NOT be disrespected!
    Even if their peckers are the size of a quarter-of-a-roll of dimes – FULLY ERECT!
    Their guns are compensation for the remaining inches it takes to please and satisfy someone else.
    They aren’t even smart enough to realize that, ‘It ain’t the meat – it’s the motion!” – and knowing, and caring enough, to do what you and your partner want done, right!

  5. They say part of their purpose is to “condition Texans to feel safe around law-abiding citizens that choose to carry them.” Here’s the thing: if I see a guy with a gun, I have no idea if he is a “law-abiding” citizen. He may look like he generally abides laws, but that doesn’t mean he happens to be abiding them right at the moment, nor does it mean that he doesn’t have some twisted version of the term “law-abiding” that would make it OK for him to gun me down. Perhaps he feels that any action taken in defense of the constitution is by definition law-abiding, and killing a liberal is by definition in defense of the constitution, I don’t know. Plus, there are plenty of law-abiding folk out there who don’t at all look like they generally abide law one.

    So, if everybody around is able to legally wave guns around, I’ve got to either assume everybody is law-abiding, and probably get gunned down in an alley somewhere, or that nobody is law-abiding, and probably end up living in a “compound” somewhere, if you know what I mean.

    Neither prospect fills me with delight, for some odd reason.


  6. Just a little bunch of jerkoffs trying to mask their insecurity as freedom of speech. They don’t realize that once everybody is toting a weapon their superior feelings of being powerful by openly carrying will become neutralized. Then what is going to sooth their insecurities? They’re a bunch of dickheads.

  7. They’re confusing ‘getting used to’ with ‘holy crap, look at those crazy guys with guns. Let’s leave and go someplace safe’. The number of gun owners has decreased and my guess is that most people, including many conservatives, are not comfortable around guns.

  8. “They crashed our Alamo event,” Mr. Grisham said. “Let’s crash their event.”

    Well, speaking as a layman, but having raised 4 children with some understanding of child psychology and behaviors, I think I know what this Texas gun rally thing is all about. Nah, nah, nuh, nah, nah, you did it first!

  9. I call Bullshit. Pure and simple. We all saw the pics. The guys on the ground were in a combative stance like wanna be plastic army men. Trot out and try getting in that position in front of a cop and see how that works out and we will decide if it was a ” threatening thing” or if the cop instead found it “educational”. re- enact this drama but replace the entire scene with cops instead of women and see how it might be taken. Seriously, what would happen if they stood outside a diner where police were taking lunch to discuss the same thing these women were talking about, leering in the window at them while holding their guns like that? Pffffffffft, SOMEONE would have gotten an education alright!

    Alright Gun nuts, we all learned something: Your still giant assholes!

  10. There could be an argument made for open carry of handguns in such a situation. The point of a handgun is to be available when you can’t bring a “real gun” – a rifle or shotgun – to bear.

    But to carry rifles? See, a gun is a tool, just like a hammer. If you see a person carrying a hammer, you think they want to put down a nail (or otherwise use the hammer as appropriate). But if you see a person *carrying* a rifle, they think they need to put a big hole in something at a distance. Carrying a rifle to an event is an attempt to you you think you’ll need a “real gun” to protect yourself, or you intend to hurt someone.

    Or, you’re such a complete wimp you’re too scared to go out without the security of a big gun to keep you safe. A Teddy Bear is better and less dangerous.

    The claim that it’s “free speech” is a good legalistic bit of bullshit to hide behind, but it shouldn’t fool anyone. If you are holding rifles in plain sight, you are trying to send a message, all right, and that message is not the message that “reasonable people carry around rifles for no good reason at all.” Because, you know, *they don’t*.

  11. They’really still more shocked over benghazi,Bonnie. Rush and his buddies said benghazi is way worse.

  12. Maha,
    What is the deal with the Trans Pacific Partnership’s Internet censorship plan? Do you know anything about this?
    Much gratitude.

  13. Buckyblue did a great job of decoding why the idiots put “getting used to” in quotes in their email. At first I chalked it up to them being illiterate mo-fos.

    If the NRA hadn’t already morphed into a terrorist organization, they’d urge these guys to stand the hell down. Instead, silence.

  14. OT.. I woke up this morning with the sound of helicopters buzzing overhead.. Seems Satan is attempting to suck me into the underworld…He missed me by an eight of a mile…Scary stuff.. . not so much the sinkhole, but the possibility of being required by my mortgage company to get sinkhole insurance… It would be the financial coup de gras in a long struggle to survive in this kick you when you’re down economy.

  15. Swami,

    Wow a scant 660 feet. Satan must have access to the latest in GPS technology. I’m sure it will get you on the next try, just be patient!

    These open carry bozo’s are looking for one thing, they want a confrontation with Eric Holders ATF, that’s all they want. I hope they get it one day.

  16. Back in my late teens, I used to hang out in palm harbor; nothing far from swami’s home in Dunedin. My friends and I went scuba diving almost every weekend in a water filled sink hole called the blue sink in palm harbor. We sometimes dove in other sink holes in Hernando county, one in particular is located in a river. Those drowned sink holes were a blast to dive, but could be quite dangerous due to serious depths and our lack offices cave diving training and equipment.

  17. I’m sure it will get you on the next try, just be patient!

    Oh no, he wont get me. I prayed a hedge of protection in Jesus’ name around me. You’d think that my being a liberal would make Satan leave me alone..

  18. erinyes… He is. That’s why I’m perplexed with his pestering me. It doesn’t make sense that he would attack one of his own, let alone such a faithful and diligent liberal evil doer like myself.
    Did you see that Sarah Palin accused the Pope of being a liberal? I guess the Pope must’ve made some comment that echoed the sentiments of the liberal Jesus. Probably just a comment about finding compassion in your heart for the less fortunate or economically disadvantaged rather then viewing them as a blight on society.

  19. “Probably just a comment about finding compassion in your heart for the less fortunate or economically disadvantaged rather then viewing them as a blight on society”

    I’d bet it was THIS. I mean does it get any more secular progressive that that?

  20. Hey Swami,

    I’ve been meaning to ask, I have a couple old boats that don’t run and I can’t seem to give away (fiberglass and all). Do you think I could perhaps park them in your breezeway? Once the inevitable sink-hole swallows them they will be the state of Florida’s problem!

  21. Do you think I could perhaps park them in your breezeway?

    Sorry, trailer park rules only allow one vehicle and one boat per lot. I’m up to my quota.

  22. Uncle dad, you have boats you want to give away? Can you deliver? Here in the Orlando area, sink holes prefer corvettes to boats.

  23. “everyone is armed.”
    Really. Everyone. Like you?
    Gosh, I wonder if there are any historical examples of whats going to happen next.
    You seem like an alien to me. Here, letme misspell a word so you have somthing toe do.

  24. I wouldn’t expect much, maha.
    After all, it took 5 days for @sad to poop out those misspelled word-turds.

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