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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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And then there's this:


Armed Protestor: "We Will Forcefully Resist"

According to local police, approximately a dozen people carrying firearms outside the Obama event yesterday.

And now the health-reform opponent carrying an AR-15 Assault Rifle (or perhaps the group he's affiliated with) has produced a Youtube video which leaves little question where they stand -- "We will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority with a vote." Watch the Video.

--Josh Marshall

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2009/08/armed_protestor_we_will_forcefully_resist.php?ref=fpblg

Yeah, there's some reasoned discussion of health care reform for you.

I don't concede the point that this is legal at all. I think that carrying a loaded rifle near the President is prima facie evidence of an assassination attempt.

It is the equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded theater while holding a lit molotov cocktail

Well, if there's a lit molotov cocktail in the room, there's nothing wrong with shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

If the left flank of the Democratic Party has any sense at all they will already have fully prepared a bill titled something like "The Barack Obama Memorial Single Payer Health Insurance Plan" in anticipation of his getting killed by one of these loons. That's probably the only way we'll get single payer.

We need to Modrenize our Government

Our government was organized at a time when we didn't have the communications cababilities we have now. We had representatives whose purpose was to visit with us and ensure our ideas were herd in washington. We really don't need them any more. Just like right here right now we are shareing our ideas. It seems like our government has gotten so large it has become more of a burden than a social institution for the people by the people.

I wonder how many americans really apreciate what we have here. Perhaps we should be deporting those who seek to ruin what we have. For those who wish to see america fall incidents of gun toating protesters only encourages their efforts. It gives them hope of the posibility that america can be destabelized.

Guns don't kill people. People kill people. We are doing such amazing things these days why do we still cling to such primitive behavior?

Dave -

The financial bailouts started under Bush.

I pretty much agree with all of The Phantom's comments. I too have a bad feeling about this...I only see this culminating in a violent incident.

This is clearly intimidation being egged on by the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, etc. Even more maddening is the refusal of any of the politicians in the Republican party to denounce this behavior. I don't believe the nutcases will simply go away by ignoring or stigmatizing them. Any time that we want our government of the people by the people to make changes for the good of our country and society, these clowns will be back out until we figure out how to stop them.

Togolosh: your comment is not only insensitive, but also factually wrong. In US history, VPs who've risen to power after the President's deaths had to overcome criticism that they weren't elected and hence had no mandate. In Israel, the assassination of Rabin did not lead to a memorial bill withdrawing from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; it led to a Likud election victory half a year later, as the new Labor leader, Shimon Peres, was deemed weak and ineffective.

Phantom: to add to the litany of armed, impolite societies, consider not just Somalia, but also China in the warlord era and Germany in the early 1930s. In both countries, everyone who wanted a gun could get one, and people with enough money and power could raise entire militias; by 1933, the Nazi stormtroopers outnumbered the German army 25 to 1, and their communist equivalent outnumbered the army 10 to 1. In both countries, the people who ended up on top were so totalitarian that the gun nuts have the temerity to portray their rise as an outcome of gun control rather than profligate militias.

Alon Levy -

Do you have link regarding "by 1933, the Nazi stormtroopers outnumbered the German army 25 to 1"?

Dave, that $23.7T is a hypothetical guarantee, not a real expenditure. The heavy government investment in infrastructure during the New Deal and World War II was directly responsible for the boom of the middle class in the 1950's and 60's. Top marginal tax rates are lower now than anytime since the 1920's.

Parse, the conditional clause "A well-armed militia being necessary..." modifies the "right of the people to keep and arm bears." You can say that one thing has nothing to do with the other, but why is the first part there if not to modify the second. I think we all agree that free speech meets its limit when some yahoo shows up at a Presidential town hall with a fully armed grizzly bear.

To whoever was advocating a politely armed society, I was just reading about the Greensboro Massacre of 1979. Y'all should check it out.

Eric, I read it in multiple books, of which the best known is The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer. The book explains how as Germany descended into chaos in the early 1930s, President Hindenburg, a conservative nationalist, seriously considered stating a military coup and banning both the Nazis and the communists. However, the military was limited to 100,000 men by the Versailles Treaty, whereas the SA had 2.5 million men and the communist militia had a million; this forced him to pick Hitler as Chancellor instead.

Well, on the upside: the looney right has no call to complain about the Black Panthers ever again. They'll have to fall back on the Dirty Fuckin' Hippies instead.

It's not just Somalia, China or Germany in the early 1930s Alon.

Look no further than American frontier towns, especially in places that were territories and not states, in the late 19th century.

Most mining towns in the west were, on paper, something that would make your average right wing pundit swoon.

There was little to no gov't intervention except in the most extreme levels of law, almost no restrictions of any kind on business or personal liberties imposed at a via government, and almost everybody was packing.

Then again, most of those same pundits haven't spent much time around actual people like that (i.e. Westerners).

I have, and I can tell you pretty clearly that if this BS keeps up, there will be blood.

The GOP has raised no particular objections to the tea-baggers and birthers shouting down public meetings because so far it has worked magic for them. The anti-reform forces have managed to convince a critical mass of the electorate that any tweaking whatsoever of the present privatized system is the first giant step towards Stalinism. Health care reform is dead again, and will certainly remain so until all of us are long past needing health care. This is Obama's first major defeat and henceforth no Democrat in his/her right mind will dare mention health care reform ever again. (Obama should have known better; all he had to do is ask the Clintons how well health care reform went for them.)

That this is also becoming a second amendment debate works perfectly to galvanize the Taliban Right that takes the puerile John Wayne/Rambo romance of “God, Guts, and Guns” seriously. They fantasize themselves honest, right-thinking citizens assembling in the local saloon to raise a posse that will chase the Obama desperadoes out of town. So far that spin has worked. I don't doubt that in their hubris the GOP spinmeisters believe they've got the situation not only in hand, but that if any actual violence should occur they can manage damage control and even turn it to their advantage. (The guy with the AR-15 was only defending himself: he was attacked by dirty fucking hippies!)

What I find curious is that they're letting the anti-Obama vitriol come to a rolling boil. I cannot believe they have not considered and discussed the possibility of Obama's assassination given that that possibility occurred to just about everyone on the planet within thirty seconds of hearing his announcement to run for president. They either really are stupid enough to think that it cannot come to that, or they believe they can spin even that event to their advantage as well.

OK, here's what's REALLY going on - and it's not intimidation.

Full disclosure: I'm what you'd call a "gun nut" living in Arizona. I have a CCW (Carry Concealed Weapons) permit which required a background check and training (and about $180) to score. I carry daily.

I was invited to go to Phoenix but as I'm not near there, couldn't arrange the trip in time. If I'd been able, I'd have been packing openly there too.

Let me explain why.

Right now America is divided into two types of states: those that respect people's basic civil right to self defense (the majority now) and those that don't. The most hardcore "don't" include three very high population states: California, Illinois and New York.

You may disagree that self defense is a basic human right, but since the Heller decision of last year any such opinion would be openly against what the US Supreme Court says. We're now in a funky period in which the US Supremes say that the 2nd Amendment is linked to a personal civil right, but the states don't yet have to comply for weird historical reasons I won't go into here. The issue of whether the 2nd Amendment will be "incorporated" against the states is now being hotly contested in three Federal circuits with cases active from California, Illinois and New York all at the same time; it's a good bet one or more (possibly all three consolidated) will be heard by the US Supreme Court next session.

Meanwhile, us "gunnies" are trying to get word to people in the "personal defense ban zones" that in other states, personal defense rights are actually honored. In fact, it's very common for visitors from, say, New York City to tour a state like Arizona and freak out when they see a gun on somebody's hip, and call the police, only to be told that as long as there's no threats and it stays in the holster, it's all good.

So again: try to see things from our point of view for a moment: we're trying to get word out that legal gun carry isn't causing chaos in the majority of the nation where it's accepted, but we can't because the mainstream media is wildly biased against us.

How do we get word out?

Well it turns out packin' heat in the same zip code as Obama serves very nicely. We found that out basically by accident when that first dude packed in New Hampster and it made national media.

Look at it another way: 50 years ago, if a black dude walked through an upscale white neighborhood, police would be called to harass him, because he "made people nervous". That was wrong then and it's been corrected (well, mostly!). Today, people exercising the basic right to self defense are what cause freakouts but yet again, if somebody else is offended by my exercise of a personal civil right, well, it ain't my problem. Only thing I can do in response is make it common enough that the complaints stop.

Don't think it's a civil right? You're entitled to your opinion...but when the majority of the US Supreme Court is on MY side, you can't dismiss my opinion as that of a kook.

Jim March
Tucson

"50 years ago, if a black dude walked through an upscale white neighborhood"


When Israel was in Egypt's land: Let my people go,
Oppress'd so hard they could not stand, Let my People go.

Go down, Moses,
Way down in Egypt land,
Tell old Pharaoh,
Let my people riflemen go.

Meanwhile, us "gunnies" are trying to get word to people in the "personal defense ban zones" that in other states, personal defense rights are actually honored. In fact, it's very common for visitors from, say, New York City to tour a state like Arizona and freak out when they see a gun on somebody's hip, and call the police, only to be told that as long as there's no threats and it stays in the holster, it's all good.

That's in theory. In practice, the Republicans are now pushing for a law permitting a gun nut from Arizona to go into New York and carry guns on him. Those guns will then be stolen, as they always are, and used to murder innocent people - all because you live in a world of vigilante fantasies, one in which people's freedom from crime is not important. 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, such as anywhere in the South, plus Philadelphia, plus Washington (where you can bring guns from Virginia by taking the Metro).

That's in theory. In practice, the Republicans are now pushing for a law permitting a gun nut from Arizona to go into New York and carry guns on him. Those guns will then be stolen, as they always are, and used to murder innocent people

I'm trying to understand what you're saying here, because it's obviously not literally true but I don't understand what the hyperbole is meant to suggest. 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. Are you simply suggesting that a significant number of guns used in murders are stolen from legal gun owners?


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, such as anywhere in the South, plus Philadelphia, plus Washington (where you can bring guns from Virginia by taking the Metro).

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics from 2007, violent crime rates in Oakland, CA are higher than in Atlanta, GA, which is among the most violent of Southern cities. A number of Southern cities--Austin, TX, Charlotte, NC, Dallas TX--have violent crime rates lower than Buffalo, NY. Glendale and Meza, both in Arizona, have lower rates of violent crime than New York City. I don't think the data supports a general conclusion that legal access to guns necessarily results in higher rates of violent crime.

There is no right to bear arms. This is a perverse "interpretation" of the 2nd amendment which only used the term well regulated militia. This does not give any individual a right to carry a weapon.

The stats show we are a very violent society and many people are getting killed with guns. I am sure that guns are not saving lives, but losing them.

The SS should prohibit weapons are such events. No one is safer when they are present, all are in jeopardy.

the argument is simpleeeee.........

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.)

second, from practical politics point of view. The side who brings gun lost the public image. It simply doesn't look good on TV appearing angry/with opinion and carrying gun.

people will simply label the entire group is dangerous.

second, from practical politics point of view. The side who brings gun lost the public image. It simply doesn't look good on TV appearing angry/with opinion and carrying gun.

people will simply label the entire group is dangerous.

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.

I'm curious...

Back when Bush was President, we were repeatedly told that it was important to keep giant puppets and signs on wooden sticks away from any Bush public appearance, due to the possible threat they would represent.


And now...automatic weapons at an Obama rally?

So...automatic weapons are OK, but think wooden sticks are intolerable?

Jim March writes;
Today, people exercising the basic right to self defense are what cause freakouts but yet again, if somebody else is offended by my exercise of a personal civil right, well, it ain't my problem. Only thing I can do in response is make it common enough that the complaints stop.

Doyle;
I think you have done your cause a great disservice. Trying to prove to the Federal Government your right to bare arms when this could lead to terrible consequences and offers up your stance to sacrifice for nothing. You invite a Federal response. You are being used by the right media, and set up for being a fall guy.

I'm for disarming and putting guns away as an option in the U.S. So your actions reward my side. but I'm not interested in creating repression.

Isn't it all down to fear of the return of the indigenous people, the so called 'Indians', to take back their land? Maybe their ghosts sing a deadly song in North-American dreams that so frightens some of them they have to be armed.

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