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Hullabaloo


Thursday, December 27, 2012

 
Political gun talk

by digby

One of the underdiscussed topics in the gun debate is the effect that people who carry guns in public have on the ability of people to express themselves freely.  I know that I have been very reluctant to engage in political debate over the years with people I've known who indulge themselves in open carry or who are known to have guns at the ready.  (The idea of allowing them in bars where altercations happen frequently under the influence of alcohol absolutely amazes me.)

Surely you all will recall this picture from a Tea Party rally in 2010,  right?

And these aggressive sentiments:






How about that gun rally at which Senator elect Rand Paul proudly spoke? The leader of the local militia had this to say that day:
We are the original homeland security, not the paid agents that today masquerade as such in ninja outfits, dressed in black to intimidate the people with their faces covered to keep them from being held accountable for their actions. I have even been shown proof that they consider the founding fathers like George Washington, Sam Adams and Thomas Jefferson to be the terrorists of old. 
Unless you are a member of the active military, it is your historical, constitutional and moral duty to participate in a citizen’s militia. And I’ll say this, shame on those who are either too busy or too scared or too apathetic to step up. The British aren’t coming. It is the Soviet socialists that have occupied our Capitol. It might as well be Moscow on the Potomac. 
The question is: do we have the courage and the spirit of our forefathers? Our people do. Today we want to tell the Marxist control freaks out there, don’t dare cross that bridge. But we know they will. We the militia, and hopefully with your support, stand ready with no apologies, cause what we have forced upon us is not from a legitimate government, or the American values of self reliance and independence. If you want to be a European, move. 
The Declaration of Independence says that when a government is no longer beneficial or responsive to the people, it is our right and duty to change it. Now some citizens are holding out hope that the upcoming elections will better things, and you know we’ll wait and see. Lots of us believe that maybe that’s not reliable, considering the fact that the progressive socialists have been chipping away at our foundations. Regardless, the founders made sure we had plan B (holds up his gun). You know what that is. 
The treasonous left wing socialist politicians, and their lapdogs in the press, have gotten a wedgie here recently in their underpants over the tea parties. And a little broken glass (wink, wink). I sure hope they’re out there today. If they read history, they should know and fear what came after those events over 200 years ago. This latest forced health care bill, which is really about people control, the same thing as gun control, is the modern day equivalent of the 1765 standback, its only more disastrous to our freedom living way of life, etc… 
History it seems is ready to repeat itself. After a long and costly civil war that is eminent, and sure to be forced upon us, we are taking note of those who are responsible for the treason, and they will be held accountable. I advise the press to start getting it right from this moment on, and stop aiding and abetting un-American activities. Like the Tories of old, the worst shall be hung, most will be exiled, and I’m a contractor so I have a little bit of tar and feathers for those who are only partially guilty. 
In closing, let me implore you to keep the torch of freedom burning bright, god bless the republic, death to the New World Order. We shall prevail.

I don't know about you, but that sounds an awful lot like a threat. But even that's ok as long as it's just a bunch of macho gasbags exercising their right to free speech. But what about when they back up their free speech with this?


That's what they were wearing at that rally.Would you feel comfortable exercising your first amendment right to disagree around people who are carrying guns like that in public? Is that liberty?

Anyway, what made me think of that is the story of Dick Armey travelling with a gun toting aide to confront the Freedomworks people. I got lots of email from readers pointing out that this would be illegal in Washington DC, (which is richly ironic since the right wing is flipping out over David Gregory appearing to break the law by showing banned ammunition in a DC TV studio.)

Armey has now given his version of the story: 
Armey tells Mother Jones that this episode has been hyped up by his FreedomWorks foes, and he says the not-so-mysterious gun-touting assistant was a former Capitol Hill police officer named Beau Singleton, who used to be part of Armey's congressional security detail and who has volunteered his security services to Armey and FreedomWorks for years. "He was well-known to the people at FreedomWorks," Armey says. "He has provided me personal security on many occasions when I was in Washington." Singleton also oversaw security for FreedomWorks in September 2009 when it organized a large rally in Washington. Singleton, Armey says, is authorized to carry a gun, but he does so in a back holster that cannot be seen by an onlooker. "I was unaware he had a gun [at the meeting]," Armey maintains. "He kept it under his coat in the back....But the news looks like Armey came in there like John Dillinger, all guns a-blazing. That was false."

Armey says that his wife, Susan, and his assistant, Jean Campbell, were concerned about a FreedomWorks official losing his temper at this meeting and suggested that Singleton join Armey and the two of them on this trip to the group's office. But he insists there was nothing odd with him showing up at FreedomWorks with Singleton by his side.

Singleton, 56, confirms Armey's account. He says that he has known Kibbe and Brandon for years and that he had often "been around" at FreedomWorks. He adds that during the meeting between Armey and Kibbe, he "just observed. I was just kind of there....I can't see why they would act like I was menacing."

Well, maybe it's because they obviously knew he carried a gun, which is by its very nature intimidating and, one assumes, the point.  After all, that's the whole idea behind the "an armed society is a polite society" trope. It's not self-defense --- it is that someone will risk getting shot if they lose their temper in a meeting or otherwise step out of line in the presence of a "responsible gun owner."  That's also known as intimidation. He can pretend "who me" all he wants, but they didn't bring along an armed man by coincidence.

This is a different issue than the horrors of Aurora and Sandy Hook. That's just a straight up public health issue --- too many lethal weapons getting into the hands of people who are willing to use them on innocent people for God only knows why.  But the political dimension of this is different, and it speaks directly to the NRA and its power in Washington despite the fact that their leader is completely daft and the country knows this is out of control. Just as a group of armed men at a political rally can shut down the free flow of  political dialog in a democratic society, a powerful interest group like the NRA is able to control the debate over gun control. And I'm not honestly sure it isn't related to a common subconscious fear of macho blowhards  armed to the teeth with para-military weapons and threatening a civil war against the government and the "progressive socialists" who are allegedly destroying their way of life. It certainly makes me uneasy.

Update: Josh Marshall has some interesting thoughts on that publishing of gun registration information on the internet. I'm a privacy advocate, so I am against doing this sort of thing. But he brings up some interesting points.

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