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August 17, 2009

Protesters tote semi-automatic assault rifles at Obama event

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CNN has video of a protester carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle outside an Obama event in Phoenix, Arizona today. The gunman told the media that the gun was loaded.

CNN's White House correspondent said he saw several other people carrying guns including another anti-Obama protester with an AR-15 who was screaming about socialism.

The Associated Press is reporting that a dozen people were openly carrying guns outside the Obama event.

This is the third gun-related incident at a presidential speaking engagement in the space of a week.

It's legal to openly carry a firearm in Arizona. So what? Taking a loaded assault rifle to a protest is naked intimidation. Whoever is organizing these militia mental midgets needs to call them off right now. They may be within their legal rights, but their behavior is profoundly anti-democratic.

Republican senator Thad Coburn went on TV yesterday to say that the state deserves the anger of teabaggers because it has made these people believe that they are about to lose control of their government.  That kind of rhetoric plays into the paranoid fantasies of gun nuts steeped in the idea that they should use their guns in defense of liberty. Notice how Coburn and GOP leaders in polite company couch these statements in terms of what people think, as if they had no responsibility to tell their followers the truth or deescalate the situation in any way. If they had any interest in discourse or even safety, they would try to ratchet down the tensions by reminding people that just because they don't agree with the president doesn't mean he's on the verge of becoming a tyrant. Clearly they don't believe that Obama is an incipient dictator, they know he's not even committed to serious heatlhcare reform. He has already wavered on the public option. In his more radical moments the president wants to give the insurance industry subsidies and force the public to buy more of its crappy products. The GOP knows this perfectly well, but it won't exercise leadership to reign in its base. On the contrary, it's systematically and gleefully ratcheting up the tensions at every turn.

"People are concerned at the American way of life being threatened and business being vilified," former White House spokesperson Dana Perino said of the furious protesters disrupting town halls around the country. 

The fevered theories of the birthers also reinforce the perception among the president's critics that Obama is not merely wrong but illegitimate. Signs reading "death to Obama" and "it's time to water the tree of liberty" have cropped up at town halls. (Thomas Jefferson famously wrote that the tree of liberty must periodically be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants.) Glenn Beck has been likening Obama to Hitler on the air and Sarah Palin has been insisting that the president wants to kill her baby with Downs Syndrome. Between the sick rhetoric, the summer heat, and the guns, it's only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt.

Republicans and their lobbyist allies are riling up the militiamen. They don't care who gets hurt as long as the insurance industry's profits are safe.

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Comments

Apparently, the federal government doesn't consider it making a threat for a protestor to openly display a gun near a presidential event.

But the federal government does consider this an illegal threat:
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http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/animal-rights-activists-indicted-as-terrorists-for-home-protests/1657/

A protest on October 21, 2007, at an animal researcher’s home. The government says this amounts to “threats, criminal trespass, harassment and intimidation.” In the criminal complaint, the FBI said that on this date “protesters trespassed onto Professor Number One’s front yard and rang his doorbell several times. The group was making a lot of noise and chanting animal rights slogans (“1, 2, 3, 4 open up the cage door; 5, 6, 7, 8, smash the locks and liberate; 9, 10, 11, 12, vivisectors go to hell”)…”
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How is it intimidation? Aren't you an American as well? You have your 2nd amendment rights as well, bring your own gun if you want. Oh but you don't care about the 2nd amendment? I guess it goes to show how self-evidently self-defeating a strategy it is to be for gun control. Basically you are begging for yourself to be powerless.
When Libertarians and conservatives go protest, notice how well behaved the police are, compared to when they crack open some liberal's skulls when they protest. An armed society is a polite society.

In Israel, after Yigal Amir assassinated Prime Minister Rabin, the government started prosecuting not just him but associates he had who may have known about his goals. His brother was convicted of giving him material support, but more controversial was the prosecution of a woman merely for knowing what he was about to do. At the height of a controversy, liberal pundit Ofer Shelach explained that no, just saying you're about to assassinate the Prime Minister doesn't mean much. He recounted stories from his stint in the military in the 1980s in Lebanon, when he and other troops would talk about their fantasies of assassinating Ariel Sharon.

I have to agree with both Lizzy and Lindsay. Yes, carrying a weapon to a political event is an act of intimidation. So is intoning the words, "I will use violence to defend what I consider to be my way of life." While one prompts visceral fear in on-lookers and the other does not, they are, in the minds of conservatives, the same statement. Unfortunately for American civility, they are both acts of speech that are, and should continue to be protected by the constitution. The act is reprehensible but allowable.

I do have to disagree with Lizzy, though on the point about an armed society. An armed society is not polite, it is afraid. More likely than not it is dominated by frightened, deluded and stupid people who are deeply aware of their own inadequacies and feel that firearms somehow make them more able to address a world that they're too weak and stupid to engage in a meaningful way. I say this as someone that lives in the urban center of one of the most dangerous cities in America and that walks about unarmed. I've had a gun pulled on me three times and on none of those occasions did my assailants prevail. Possessing a gun in order to feel powerful, as is the case with most gun owners, does not actually make one powerful.

I'm not at all afraid of the person that slings a rifle over their shoulder to attend a political rally. Rather, I'm afraid of the person with a pistol under their coat. The person carrying the rifle is making a statement, not planning an assassination. Even if they were, they're a piss-poor assassin that probably lacks the training and will to complete the act. As are the vast majority of gun owners. The person who makes no statement is the real danger.

It's interesting that these militia men are trying to use weapons as a means of threatening the President. I agree with your point. However, one incident would be a very serious error on the part of the right. This escalation polarizes the country. Creating gulfs that are hard to bridge. I am saying an incident would justify federal reaction and cement harsh reactions against this extreme right. I agree your warning is well taken given these shows. I also think an incident would be catastrophic for the right.

Thomas writes;
I'm not at all afraid of the person that slings a rifle over their shoulder to attend a political rally. Rather, I'm afraid of the person with a pistol under their coat. The person carrying the rifle is making a statement, not planning an assassination. Even if they were, they're a piss-poor assassin that probably lacks the training and will to complete the act. As are the vast majority of gun owners. The person who makes no statement is the real danger.

Doyle;
Carrying a gun in most cities can get you killed by the police. Your comment is really naive. There is little room in this society for mistakes about how guns are used in the public. There are numerous examples of people being shot dead for the appearance of carrying a gun. Whatever the threat of an assassin might be, the use of guns as a political tool has everything against it in these cases.

This is a political time bomb waiting to go off. Everything about this shrieks of disaster for the right if they take tiny little steps beyond these limited moments. In the past the right has usually stepped back from these shows, and statements. There is good reason, the President is the full force of the U.S. military. The government will not tolerate threats to it's authority.

It's funny how this video gets spinned as "republican" or right wing.....the guy carrying the gun in the CNN video is Pro Obama healthcare.....and thus, presumably a democrat.

Good job Lindsay, you're on the right track to getting a job with mainstream media...hahahaha!!!!

To further add...from your "so called" article:

"The fevered theories of the birthers also reinforce the perception among the president's critics that Obama is not merely wrong but illegitimate. Signs reading "death to Obama" and "it's time to water the tree of liberty" have cropped up at town halls."

Hilarious!!!!!!!! If you would have seen the "it's time to water the tree of libery" person doing his interview with Mr. Softball, Chris Matthews, he isn't a "birther" as you easily point out with your feabile attempt to validate your article.

1 w1ll laugh my ass off 1f someone gets shot. Dumbass Amer1cans. But you people started th1s all w1th your hyster1cal Bush Coup Threatens Our Sacred L1bert1es bullsh1t.

Dumb bunn1es ; )

This is naked intimidation.

The gun toting freaks should be arrested on charges of conspiracy to assassinate the president.

This is not a first or second amendment issue. These people are unhinged criminals

How is it intimidation?

Yes. I'm sure this guy goes everywhere with an assault rifle slung over his shoulder. Heck, he probably brings it along to parent-teacher conferences to discuss Junior's behavior problems.

Why would anyone think this was some threat to Obama?

Liberals, I am one, mock the "gun nuts" but as is often said history repeats itself. We are the unarmed citizens of the ghettos while the armed brownshirts prepare the way to the camps.

First, the AR-15 is not an assault rifle, it is a semi automatic. The assault rifle versions, M16 M4 etc, are restricted to military use. AR-15 is totally legal. It is commercially available to civilians. In fact as of a few years ago you can even buy flash suppressors, scopes, and high capacity mags for it.

Carrying an AR-15 around is stupid. It offers no benefits over a small firearm for LEGAL purposes. Bringing it to a presidential event is the second stupidest thing you could do.
You really don't want to make the SS nervous.

That said, it is still, their choice. And it should be.

Robert Musil (The Confusions of Young Torless, trans. Shaun Whiteside, Ch 7) describes the hidey-hole in the old miltary school of the cadet perverts Beineberg and Reiting:

On the wall beside the door hung a loaded revolver.
Toerless didn't like the storeroom. He did, though, like the concealment.... But the concealment, the alarm cord, the revolver, which were supposed to give an extreme illusion of defiance and furtiveness, all struck him as ridiculous. It was as though the boys were trying to convince themselves they were leading the lives of bandits.
In fact, Toerless was only joining in because he didn't want to lag behind the others. But Beineberg and Reiting took these things terribly seriously.

The "well-regulated militia ... necessary to the security of a free State" was deemed so in part to intimidate the slave population and suppress their rebellions. Now an African-American is master of the Big House, and our pervert cadets are trying convince themselves and us that they are Jefferson's yeomen. If they could keep to the lurid hidey-hole of their imaginations, it would be only their problem. But because loaded guns are dangerous wherever they are, it's ours.

The police should remove these losers from the scene for questioning and confiscate their firearms, which should be fed promptly to the furnace.

People who think that both sides should have guns are elitists. I'm saying that it's dangerous to have people showing up at protests toting loaded weapons. Your reply is: Not if both sides have guns. So you're arguing that only people who can afford a gun and training should be able to exercise their democratic right to peacefully protest (?!). Good thinking.

Note, this is an argument about what's sensible and appropriate, not what's legal. These goons have a legal right to carry these guns around and scare people, but they're still bullies. I think the Secret Service handled them properly. They're obviously casting about for a massive overreaction to spark further violence and the Secret Service wouldn't give it to them.

Now, let's just mock them for being ridiculous bullies. Social stigma is more powerful than coercive force in many circumstances.

Lizzy, supporting the Right's self-serving interpretation of the Second Amendment - or at least the last part, without the conditional clause (the only Amendment to have a conditional clause, BTW), posted:

An armed society is a polite society.

This is often repeated but I know of no example where it has proven out. From the Middle Ages in Europe to the American west and the colonial times, an armed society is a society fraught with dueling and killing.

There is a reason that, when the law first came to western towns, the first thing the sheriff did usually was to ban guns within the town's limits. Cowboys coming off the range had to check their guns at the edge of town. Before that, killings over trivial matters, often fueled by heavy drinking, were common and terrified the more peaceable members of the town.

The infamous cow town, Dodge City, for example, was filled with gunfighters looking for trouble. There was no real law in the town, which was dominated by the 'Dodge City Peace Commission, commonly referred to as the 'Dodge City Gang.' This consisted of notorious gamblers and gunfighters, including Bat Masterson, Luke Short, Wyatt Earp, Charlie Bassett, and Bill Tilghman (no, they were NOT the good guys of legend). They controlled saloons and whorehouses and were not averse to shooting competitors in the back. It finally culminated in the Dodge City War in 1883.

Interestingly, though the many group gunfights in the Old West were popularly portrayed as fights between lawmen and outlaws, the truth is that they were mostly fights between rural Texas Democrats involved in cattle ranching, and East Coast Yankee Republican businessmen (including the Earp brothers) who were more interested in controlling mining boom-towns for their own profit.

So, some of the most common violence, shoot-outs, and outright murder were sparked by political differences between monied interests in ranching and business, between Democrats and Republicans.

History bodes very ill for the existence of an armed populace in times of great political upheaval and divisions.

An armed society might eventually turn into a polite society, but a lot of people will die in the process.

The type of paranoid freaks seen here may be immune from mockery.

I have a bad feeling about this - there is a deep anger and paranoid insanity among some of the population, and I've never been able to come to grips with it.

@ Thomas:
"More likely than not it is dominated by frightened, deluded and stupid people who are deeply aware of their own inadequacies and feel that firearms somehow make them more able to address a world that they're too weak and stupid to engage in a meaningful way."

I think you're mistaken about deep awareness. These people are blissfully unaware of the defensive overcompensation driving their behavior.

On a more troubling note, I believe the odds increasingly favor an incident of serious violence occurring at some point during one of these events. If that should happen, the right will uniformly deny even a modicum of responsibility and, staying with the playbook, do their best to blame the left.

An armed society is a polite society.

So I guess Somalia should be about the politest society on Earth then?

Yeah.

The NW Frontier of Pakistan is terribly polite too

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upporting the Right's self-serving interpretation of the Second Amendment - or at least the last part, without the conditional clause (the only Amendment to have a conditional clause, BTW)

I understand a conditional clause to be used in a sentence that discusses the factual implications of hypothetical situations. Is that what you meant? Because I don't find that in the Second Amendment. Can you be more specific about what you are describing as a conditional clause?

Note, this is an argument about what's sensible and appropriate, not what's legal.

Or at least not on your part. The Phantom thinks "the gun toting freaks should be arrested on charges of conspiracy to assassinate the president" and Dabodious that "the police should remove these losers from the scene for questioning and confiscate their firearms, which should be fed promptly to the furnace." So they either think this behavior is illegal, or they think it's OK to use police power to squelch legal behavior that you don't approve of.

if you spent $30 MILLION a day every single day for 2000 years it would still not equal to obama's $23.7 TRILLLION in financial bailouts

... the main reasons why people get poorer are because of higher taxes and inflation.

Yes, and compare this admin's reaction to people carrying guns to the previous admin's reaction to people wearing t-shirts:

http://www.denverpost.com/ci_5341085

http://orient.bowdoin.edu/orient/article.php?date=2004-09-24&section=1&id=2

http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/protest/11462prs20040914.html

And I also love how the rationalizations fall into two categories:

1 - the 2nd amendment (wonder how that excuse were to play out if people were carry guns to a VP Palin speech)

2 - the assumed rational that they are their to "defend themselves" from the big bad government.

Yeah, tell me, how well did that work out at Ruby Ridge or Waco?

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