Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Assault rifles, the right to bear arms, libertarian loons and the point of carrying a loaded gun in a crowd

Only in America.

It seems these days the rig "du jour" for political rallies is an assault rifle.

Yep, if you want to make a point - perhaps the point being that you have the right by law to turn up at a political rally in the state of Arizona carrying an unconcealed loaded assault rifle - it seems words ain't enough. You come locked and loaded, ready to grip it and rip it.

Now in America of course, if you find this kind of thing perplexing, you first have to do the obligatory dance. You have to have a house full of assault rifles, and love guns, and go hunting on a daily basis, before you can suggest that this kind of behavior might be a little perplexing, if not downright dangerous.

So let's get that out of the road. I love guns, always have, and always will, and don't mind a bit of shooting and hunting. Hey, that's what growing up in the country can do for you.

But I also have a very healthy respect for guns and what they do. They have only one purpose, and that's killing. Point a gun at something or someone, and it's a statement of intent to kill, or to destroy.

Carry a gun to an event, a rally or a gathering or a crowd, and you can carry on all you like about how it's your god given right, but it's a statement of intent, a power trip of the highest order. A matter of life and death. Because that's what guns are about.

Why even in old westerns, the town sheriff used to introduce law and order into a town by insisting that any cowboys coming to town had to park their shootin' irons in the sheriff's office, so they could go get drunk and whore around without proceeding to shoot up the town.

Now pity the poor secret service agent given the job of guarding the President of the United States while a home grown Taliban loon wanders around in the crowd in a fully law abiding way, while toting a loaded assault rifle. And if nothing else, while thinking he's being law abiding, providing real cover for other loons of more dubious intent.

Even the media finds these turns of events a tad disturbing - you can catch a CNN clip on this by heading off to Crooks and Liars here.

In the clip, even the news reporters have a difficult time coming to terms with what it means, and why am I suddenly reminded about all those summer tentpole pictures about crazed assassins intent on assassinating the President of the United States?

Usually of course it's mad Arabs, but suddenly it's okay to turn up to a presidential event carrying an assault rifle?

I know what I'm carrying a rifle for when I go out into the bush (woods for other folk) looking for rabbits. I'm hunting them, and I intend to kill them and eat them, though these days the mind and the stomach are stronger and sharper than the eye.

But carry a loaded assault rifle into a crowd? What am I hunting then? Other loons carrying assault rifles? Or just people in general? Or perps in a movie fantasy world of good guys versus bad guys, as if that would suddenly become clear and simple in a fast moving crowd situation?Without the appropriate training to take out the baddies while leaving the civilians unharmed. What fantasy did you last watch? Rambo, Death Wish or Die Hard?

Because be in no doubt, an assault rifle isn't a hunting weapon. It's a rifle designed for military combat, and is the basic standard infantry weapon in most modern armies.

An assault rifle is awesome technology and great fun to fire, but loaded in a crowd?

As a spiritual companion to the loon carrying a sign reading "It is time to water the tree of liberty", along with a loaded pistol strapped to his leg! With every American worth their salt able to complete Thomas Jefferson's words: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Yet Americans love their guns. Here's a typical argument:

Most states have concealed carry laws. Is it "safer" if citizens conceal carry weapons to these rallies but not open carry? That's crazy reasoning that open carry is somehow going to incite violence. If anything, the sight of weapons in sane hands has a remarkable "chilling" effect on would-be wrong doers. It boils down to this: do you trust your fellow citizens with the power to carry weapons or not? If you do, there is no reason why you should be against open-carry.

Um dude, what if I'm working out in a gym, and just because some guy can't get a date, I'm blown away. Should I love open-carry then? Or concealed carry? Whatever?

IF you are uncomfortable with the right to keep and bear arms (the second amendment) and feel that the common person in a country cannot be entrusted to responsibly keep and bear arms, then you should seek another country that has more draconian control over its citizens.

As opposed to the intimidating control power crazed gun crazies can wield over their fellow citizens by toting military weaponry in plain sight of their fellow citizens? Gee, suddenly China is looking civilized up against mad as hell libertarian loons.

Simple. The more citizens that openly bear arms, the more scared perps become of committing a crime. And you don't seriously expect a perpetrator who is intent on harming someone of openly brandishing a weapon or following any "gun control" laws, do you? By disarming law abiding folks, all you are doing is creating more opportunities for bad guys to commit crimes.

Wow, that's not so much simple as alarmingly simple minded. So it's back to the wild west and the days of Billy the Kid and Jesse James, and everybody packing and toting arms? Hey that'll work well in New York. When we talk of an urban jungle, let's have a really big well armed urban jungle. What a rich fantasy life some people live, and the less related to reality, the better, so it seems.

In Arizona, I still have some freedoms, the man was reported to have said. The freedom to act like an offensive dangerous gherkin? Sure buddy, whatever.

One thing's certain. The paranoid have no idea of the true level of their paranoia ... until it erupts.

In my darkest moments I wonder if Obama will make it to end of term.

UPDATE: thanks anonymous. In my lighter moments I look at Jon Stewart and feel very sunny about America.

(Below: notice any difference between the man below and the average libertarian? Bing, hand the man a stuffed toy. Yes, he's carrying an AK47, rather than an AR15 assault rifle pictured above. While his face is covered while he's doing an open carry in a back yard. See Kate Hagan's piece Portrait of the terrorist as a suburban man).


  1. Here's a hypothetical: what do you think would have happened if someone had shown up at an appearance by President Bush armed with a semi automatic rifle? Guantanamo, maybe?

    If I recall correctly the guy who threw the shoes was promptly sent to jail, for quite a while. But I guess that was in Iraq, where the right to bear shoes is less prized than the right to bear arms in the USA.

  2. How about a better hypothetical - what about a guy with an assault rifle and a right to "open carry" in Phoenix, standing on a grassy knoll while President Obama drives by. Is this the sort of thing the Secret Service is going to feel comfortable about? Heaven forbid it should ever come to this, but listening to some of the extremists in the US media it seems like they haven't thought through the logical consequences of this kind of thinking.

  3. I think Jon Stewart says it all very well:


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