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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, December 03, 2013

 
Fine defenders of the Second Amendment

by digby

I've been writing about the gun rights zealots who use their second amendment rights as a license to intimidate those who disagree with them by appearing armed at gun control rallies for a long time. That's not all they're doing:
Shannon Watts knew she was heading into a rough neighborhood when she became an activist in the battle over gun control. A former corporate executive and mother of five children, Watts launched a gun-control group, now called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, not long after the Newtown shootings. As the new push to restrict guns grabbed attention over the ensuing year, Watts and other activists experienced the blowback up close, in sometimes frightening detail.

At protest rallies, they have been met by men carrying rifles. (It's legal: many states permit the open carry of “long guns.”) Watts has had her home address in Indianapolis posted online along with the suggestion that “people show up and show why it’s important to have a gun.” She has gotten letters at home saying that the sender knows where her kids go to school and where her husband works. On the lighter side, an ironist has been sending her free issues of Guns & Ammo.

She has a harder time finding irony in images floating around online featuring her head bloodied by a huge knife stuck into her skull.



On the Facebook page of Starbucks—a battleground, thanks to Moms Demand Action’s successful effort to get Starbucks to discourage open carry of weapons in its shops—McBeefington posted a map of Martin’s neighborhood with the message: “I saw there was a recent incident where an NYPD officer got shot by someone—in the middle of Bloomberg’s gun-free utopia—and quite near your home, to boot.” (The image, in fact, depicted Martin's old neighborhood.) On the same page, he posted another message noting that Martin's son was about to turn four: “I went to Starbucks and had an early celebration for his upcoming birthday,” he wrote, with an accompanying photo of a birthday cake set beside an NRA membership card. (He’d apparently deduced the child's age from years-old postings by Martin elsewhere online.) Also on Facebook, someone else sent Martin a direct message with a gory picture of a badly wounded foot. “BTW, this is what happens when careless people tread on coiled, venomous snakes,” the message read.
It's logical that people who feel the need to wear guns in public might be prone to violence, especially those who ostentatiously carry them at political events with the obvious intention of intimidating those who disagree with them. These are not your benign game hunters or fellows who have a gun in the house for protection. They are armed fanatics.  This social media harassment is a slightly less intimidating approach, but considering the statistics on abuse, it's predictable that it features such violent misogyny. There's just something about guns that brings out the assholes.
Like Watts, Martin is relatively unperturbed by the harassment. But she does worry others could be dissuaded from getting involved in gun control activism by the online nastiness or by the open-carry protesters, like the large group that gathered recently outside a strip-mall restaurant near Dallas where a few Moms Demand Action members were meeting for a strategy session. “I’m not worried about any of this stuff. But what about the mom in Texas who’s scared shitless?" said Martin. "If I were younger and less vocal and more easily intimidated…who are they stopping from sharing their thoughts?"
Let's just say that when I see someone openly carrying a gun I avoid him like the plague. I keep quiet in his presence and I get out of there as soon as possible. I've always done this, even when I lived in Alaska where there are a lot of guns. They are deadly weapons and people who feel the need to prove their macho bonafides in public by carrying guns already prove they have a psychology of bullying and intimidation that makes them dangerous. Certainly, if I go to a political event and someone is armed I will leave. It's possible that tempers will flare, as often happens around politics, and there will be unintended violence or, more likely, the intimidation will work and it will be a waste of time because half the people will keep their opinions to themselves. (Nice little first amendment you have there ...)

The vast majority of Second Amendment activists are upright citizens just doing what we're all doing. But unlike most activists, it only takes one armed gun fanatic to lose his temper at a political event for something very bad to happen. It is, by its very nature, undemocratic to come armed to a rally. And they know it. That's why they do it. They could, after all, just carry a sign and make speeches like everyone else.

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