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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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Parse writes;
Sometimes a group wants to send a message that they can be dangerous, if provoked. The Black Panther Party--which was originally known as the Black Panther Party for Self Defense--sent about 30 members carrying weapons into the California State Assembly to protest a proposed bill to outlaw public displays of loaded weapons. The bill passed, but I still think the armed protest was s ahrewd move by the Panthers.

The Black Panthers suffered severe violent suppression at the hands of the police also. And more to the point a huge swath of Black Men ended up in prison as a consequence of rightwing calls for law and order. Black power died as a consequence of a massive imprisonment of Black Men.

This ploy by fringe right wing persons is just short of giving a major political coup to the Federal Government. Any move that leads to firing weapons, threats, actions against conventional democratic politicians would lead to suppression and repression of gun displays.

This display of fire arms is a weak and careless reaction to the Health Care crisis. Not a show of strength by any measure.

Doyle, unless long-sleeve shirts have recently been made mandatory, I don't think anyone disputes the right to BARE arms.

Regarding the Panthers, are you suggesting that, absent their armed protest at the California state house, they would have been spared the government's murderous attention? I don't think there's a convincing argument to be made along those lines.

>>even the NRA ban gun in their meeting hal. (eg. they know the wacko will start waving gun and event will get out of control.)<<

You're mixing issues.

First problem is that in a lot of the meeting halls they have to rent in various cities, guns are already banned (often by city/county ordinance) and there's nothing they can do. At this year's meeting in Phoenix that wasn't the case, and gun carry was encouraged.

Separate from the main meeting, the NRA also runs a gun show. Loaded carry at gun shows is often forbidden for a different reason. See...let's say I have my normal carry gun on me, concealed and loaded. And the plan is, it's going to stay that way. That would be fine except inevitably, somebody sees a cool new holster or set of sights or whatever, goes "ooooh, shiny!" and pulls out their roscoe to visibly size it up. That's not safe if the boomthing is loaded. So we more or less always have "loaded check" stations set up outside gun shows where we zip-tie the chambers and put a sticker on that says it's been confirmed unloaded.

That way we CAN check out cool new accessories even if we hadn't planned on it :).

I wasn't at the Phoenix meeting but it wouldn't surprise me at all if the gun show portion was run that way.

What else...

Somebody said the 2nd Amendment isn't a basic right, again. Well sorry, the Nine Robes In DC disagree these days. Neener. :) (OK, technically five out of the nine but that's all we need...)

As to the "forced cross-state reciprocity" Federal bill: that actually fixes a whole 'nuther constitutional problem going on: the US Supreme Court LONG ago banned the idea that a state could discriminate against visiting residents of other states. Yet in terms of gun control, many states do exactly that: California, New York and others will issue gun permits to those with enough political connections at least who are state residents, but bar anybody from out-of-state from any chance at carry rights. That ain't kosher at all - see also the 1870 US Supreme Court case of Ward v. Maryland, or the 1999 case of Saenz v. Roe.

One comment regarding stolen guns: I own only one serious handgun (plus a .22cal version of basically the same thing as a "trainer"). My main gun is ALWAYS in one of two places: on me, or by my bed. This would be even more the case if I'm traveling.

How exactly is it going to get stolen in New York? Seriously?

"How do we get word out?"

At a presidential town hall meeting on health care reform?

Yeah, smart thinking there Jimmy.

Why, how could ANYONE get confused over what you're trying to bring up.

It can't be the case that guns legally brought to New York by a licensed gun owner from Arizona are always stolen and used in murders, because Arizona gun owners can't legally bring guns into New York.

The Republican Party is now trying to change that, giving Arizona gun owners the right to carry concealed weapons in New York.

Also, the part about guns being stolen from visitors was too hyperbolic. The guns used in murder in New York are typically stolen or bought in their home states and then brought in by criminals - I believe Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia are the most popular states of choice; they even nickname I-95 murder highway, it's so commonly used to transport guns.

I don't think the data supports a general conclusion that legal access to guns necessarily results in higher rates of violent crime.

You should look at murder, not crime; guns don't have an effect on violent crimes other than murder. Also, you should avoid looking at the extremes of each area - Oakland is the poorest major city of the Bay Area, so it's not surprising its murder rate will be high. By the same token, Newark has a very high murder rate, even though overall New Jersey has a relatively low murder rate. If you look at regions, or states, then you'll see the Northeast has much less murder than the South; if you exclude Pennsylvania, which has lax gun laws, the difference is even starker.

In addition, because it's relatively easy to bring guns from the South to any Northern city, cities like New York and Boston aren't truly gun-free. For that you'd have to go to cities in other countries, preferably with comparable or higher overall violent crime rates to the US. For example, Britain has one third the murder rate of the US, even though crime surveys reveal that for all other crimes it has twice the rate of the US. Within the developed world the US is close to average in its overall crime rate, but its murder rate is by far the highest; furthermore, the countries immediately following - Finland, Israel, and Switzerland - also have very lax gun laws by non-US standards.

Parse, on another note, your comparison to the Black Panthers is what riles up so many progressives. The media, they say, does not treat the armed protesters the same way as the Black Panthers - that is, as a violent fringe group; it treats them as a legitimate political protest group.

(P.S. I don't really agree with the above distinction, but this is what most liberals are concerned with.)

Has a former vice presidential candidate ever called a Republican president a fascist? That's strictly marginal discourse. In fact, if you used the word "fascist" to describe the Bush administration, that was a one-way ticket to ridicule and marginalization by the established media. Remember what happened to Janeane Garafolo?

This despite the fact that there are serious historical parallels between the corporate state exalted by historical fascists and the militaristic crony capitalism of the Bush Republicans, including the denial of civil liberties, the denigration of women and gays, the contempt for science, the state-sponsored religion, exaltation of marriage and the traditional family, the cult of anxious masculinity, anti-intellectualism, etc.

The Black Panthers aren't what you'd call a successful political movement.

If your goal is to advance gun rights, don't do it by making yourself look crazy and dangerous. Nobody is going to say, gee, we'd better loosen up New York's gun laws because they're pissing off crazy people in Phoenix.

Remember what happened to Janeane Garafolo?

Yes, she went on to have a successful acting career on politically minded TV shows, even conservative ones like 24.

Alon, it’s beginning to look like you’ve started with a conclusion and then looked for statistics to justify it. You wrote Complain about New York and California all you want, but their cities have lower crime rates than cities in regions where guns are legal or easy to import. . . When I cite FBI statistics that don’t support that conclusion, you respond: Oh, don’t look at crime rates—even though you said crime rates—look at murder. And don’t look at cities—even though you said cities--look at regions.

I don’t know where to look for statistics by region, but looking at murder instead of crime reveals that Buffalo is higher than Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Jacksonville—how many Southern cities do I have to name? Oakland’s higher than all those cities too, but you don’t want to count Oakland. Well, San Francisco is higher than Charlotte, NC, Fort Worth, TX, Nashville, TN. Los Angeles is higher than several cities in the south, and several cities in Arizona, where the gun-supporting original poster lives.

Janeane Garafalo had a successful acting career before she became a pundit. But she's most famous for being ridiculed as a left-wing extremist by Matt Stone and Trey Parker in "Team America: World Police." She's not a mainstream Democrat or even a mainstream progressive. Even many progressives went out of their way to distance themselves from her in the early Bush years. If you're a progressive, fascism talk is a one way ticket to the margins of left liberal discourse.

If you're a progressive, fascism talk is a one way ticket to the margins of left liberal discourse.

So if someone wrote about Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps and claimed As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration, she would buy herself a one-way ticket to the margins of left liberal discourse, right? There's certainly no way any publishing house would ask her to write a book based on that premise, or that such a book would be adapted for a film, much less a film favorably reviewed by Stephen Holden. Unless the New York Times represents the margins of left liberal discourse.

Somebody ought to tell Naomi Wolf about that before she trashes her career.

Too late, Naomi Wolf did trash her career.

She's a marginal figure in feminism these days and she has zero currency in mainstream progressive circles. As one well-known feminist author put it in a private email the other day, "Naomi Wolf seems to get less and less influential with each book she writes."

Movie critic Stephen Holden said "The End Of America" was a good film, but he also called it paranoid and a fiercely one-sided polemic.

Parse writes;
Regarding the Panthers, are you suggesting that, absent their armed protest at the California state house, they would have been spared the government's murderous attention? I don't think there's a convincing argument to be made along those lines.

I don't think you can say one incident did anything one way or the other for the Panthers. Their over all stance toward guns invited repression. Their strategy certainly sparked a response in the Black community toward militancy. Still the outcome from these shows of 'force' were severe law and order repression.

For the right similar displays of armed 'rebellion' would have the same impact. The same law and order reaction. The same repression tactics. And the militant right is no more able to stand up to such things than were the Panthers. A real rebellion is no where in sight right now. People have too much fantasy about what a gun symbolizes. What it can attain for political causes.

Okay, Lindsay, Wolf has been relegated to the margins of left liberal discourse, right? Along with Keith Olbermann, who, in a comment directed at George Bush said, You are Fascist! Get them to print you a t-shirt with Fascist on it!

Left liberal discourse must have awfully wide margins.

Parse, let's look at other cities. In Arizona, the primary city is Phoenix, not Glendale and Mesa, which are middle-class suburbs. Phoenix has a murder rate of 14. Nashville has a murder rate of 13, Memphis 19, Houston 16 (pre-Katrina), Dallas 16, Fort Worth 9, Miami 19, Pittsburgh 17, Atlanta 26, Philadelphia 27, Washington 30, Baltimore 45. In states with at least mildly enforceable gun control, rates tend to be lower: Los Angeles has a murder rate of 10, Santa Ana 7, San Diego 5, Boston 11, New York 6, San Francisco 14, Chicago 16, Buffalo 20.

Those rates are all averages of good and bad neighborhoods, and all of those cities are surrounded by richer, lower-crime suburbs, plus a few really poor cities like Newark or Camden, but overall the same relationship remains. Central Harlem, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in New York, has a murder rate of 19, barely higher than the citywide average of Houston and Dallas. And while Newark, Oakland, and Compton are infamous for their crime, many other poor secondary cities have low crime rate. Santa Ana I mentioned above; I'd also add Anaheim (5), Paterson (9), Yonkers (5), and Jersey City (8).

Of course, the differences aren't just about guns - police competence and poverty also play a role. But NY, Boston, and LA have the same poverty rates as Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. And one of the police commissioners who helped bring New York's crime rate down, Lee Brown, was later the mayor of Houston. And Texas has lower unemployment than California, which should bring its cities' homicide numbers down, at least to rates below those of depressed Central Valley towns like Fresno (11), Bakersfield (5), and Stockton (10).

The most obvious fallacy of the guns at the town hall meetings (I'm referring here to Obama's) is that in the Bush era, you could get arrested for wearing a t-shirt or having the wrong bumper sticker on your car. At the least, you'd never get into the meeting. Now, you can bring anything possibly including a grenade launcher, and it's okay. What sort of perimeter does the Secret Service consider reasonable these days?

An armed society is a polite society.
Quoting science fiction to emascualte shut-in anger junkies? Oh yeah, total win there.

Surely no fuss will be raised when a number of ACORN / DNC / Move-On volunteers packing Barrett rifles decide to show up at a Palin rally. Nah.

"Surely no fuss will be raised when a number of ACORN / DNC / Move-On volunteers packing Barrett rifles decide to show up at a Palin rally."

To quote a great man, "On what planet do you spend most of your time?"

I am a bit skeptical of the left, and the right. Neither exists without the other. In the back rooms they have their deals, and country club socials, where, it is the average citizen, who is the puppet. Gun tooting loons perhaps they are planted by both sides. Do you every wonder where the illusion ends and reality begins. Politicians play their games to control the masses. The few that can be trusted seem to be ousted early. Those who play, get to stay. We the people, should be We the puppets. We look at other countries as being run by thugs, and dictated to, when here we stand, dictated everyday by our local, state, and federal government. The poor few fools, gathering with their guns, they too are puppets, awaiting to 'save the world'. I do not trust Obama, I did not trust Bush, I did like Reagan, yet I am sure there will follow some tart comments about him. Gund will not go away. If the simple idiots that think making guns illegal believe that, just look at how making drugs illegal has helped. Any determined individual will already have guns, and is prepared for someone to come and take them. That individual is the dangerous one, and she likely has un-registered guns, and perhaps even the ability and means to manufacture her own. Whoever is your puppetmaster, fire them, and think for yourself, neither left or right is thinking of you, you must find the least damaging, and make sure they represent your wishes for your children, and theirs.

The hoplophobes who are up in arms about potential violence from the right don't seem to be too concerned about the actual violence from the left. Google Kenneth Gladney. A black man at a tea party rally needs a rifle if for nothing else, to protect himself from Obama's union thugs sent to "punch back twice as hard"...apparently at black people who dare to challenge the liberal white orthodoxy of what a black man is supposed to be.
There is a also a video on youtube of William Kostric being confronted in Portsmouth NH by a couple of brown shirted (yes their shirts were brown) union thugs…well confronted until they saw his gun. Then they backed off pretty quickly and moved on to someone else.
And how about the folks just convicted in Texas of plotting to firebomb the Republican convention last year? They had actually assembled the Molitov cocktails by the time they were caught.
I’d take your complaints a little bit more seriously if you ever lifted a finger to combat the violence of your own side.

Dude, the guy who advocated "punching back twice as hard" was the king of the St. Louis Tea Party scene. Did you watch the video of Ken Gladney? The only guy on the ground is an SEIU member and Gladney is literally running around without a scratch on him, making a little elevator pitch to every cop he sees about how he was brutally attacked. And the next day he shows up in a wheelchair. Of course, he hits up his fellow teabaggers for money for medical bills. Even though his wife has insurance. What a joke.

"Punch back twice as hard" Actually that quote came from the white house. Google it. Before attacking him a union thug said to Gladney who had just offered him a Gadsen flag "what kind of n****r are you?".
Where did you get Gladney's confidential medical records and health insurance info?
Typical liberal...if reality doesn't fit the narrative, just deny reality.

How is that immediate Iraq pullout going?
Extraordinary rendition? Obamas got that.
Extra-judicial predator killings? Check.
Guantanamo still open? Check.

I got your hope and change right here.

The teabagger leader did say "punch back twice as hard"--but you're right, he was probably riffing off this Politico story. The quote is hearsay from an anonymous official attributing the words to WH adviser Jim Messina in a closed-door meeting on advertising. Hardly an incitement to violence from the White House. I'm amused that teabaggers turn into shrinking violets around metaphors but think guns near the president are A-OK.

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