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Con: Gun-studded rallies safest places in America

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H. Sterling Burnett
June 12, 2010
EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer is addressing the question, Does the open display of firearms at protest rallies threaten to turn America into a Wild West’ society?

Besides a police station, the safest place in America on April 19 would likely have been any of the numerous Patriot’s Day rallies held around the country where thousands of people, many carrying firearms, celebrated the opening shots in America’s war for independence.


Some of the rallies had a strong Tea Party presence, others were filled with gun rights folks with no particular political affiliation.


This was Patriot’s Day—a holiday recognized by too few and celebrated by even fewer—and the one common theme was that the freedom fought for 235 years ago was worth winning, even at the cost of blood and lives. It was a battle fought over guns.


The mainstream media and liberal bloggers were nearly apoplectic that some dared to bear arms at these rallies. Why? No crimes were reported. No one was shot. If a shooting had occurred, with the multitude of anti-gun journalists in this country’s major media outlets, you would have heard about it.


Indeed, while visibly packing firearms at political events has to some degree come into vogue this past year or so, at none of these events has any crime been reported or occurred.


This should not really surprise anyone. After all, millions of people openly bare firearms in public in hunting fields, at firing ranges and at gun shows every week, and except for exceedingly rare accidents, few if any injuries result. Criminals don’t rob gun shows, and mass murderers don’t target shooting ranges.


By contrast, mass shootings have become all too commonplace at locations where guns are explicitly banned. And, sadly, assaults have almost come to be expected at various protests and events organized by groups who claim to be progressive, and who usually ally themselves with organizations that favor national or international gun control.


Windows are smashed, stores and cars are set ablaze, and police, onlookers and counter-protestors are regularly attacked or assaulted.


For instance, almost every gathering to protest free trade agreements or meetings of the World Trade Organization erupts in violence.


Anarchists, radical union organizers and other self-proclaimed leftists don kerchiefs to hide their faces as they smash windows in storefronts and cars, toss Molotov cocktails and generally go wild on anyone not sharing their views or trying to contain the violence.


Most recently, for example, thousands of people in the San Francisco Bay Area marched to protest Arizona’s new immigration laws. The marches resulted in more than $100,000 in damage and several counter-protesters were assaulted.


Evidently, those who support violating America’s immigration laws don’t support the First Amendment’s right to free speech if you disagree with their views.


A story in The Christian Science Monitor noted that rallies and events hosted by various Tea Party and pro-gun groups are so orderly, and participants so law-abiding and peaceful, the police presence is less noticeable than at various liberal political protests.


In the end, this really shouldn’t be an issue. People have a fundamental natural right to defend themselves. In keeping with that, and in order to best ensure continued political liberty, the founders of this country amended the Constitution to prevent the government from violating the people’s right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and their country.


People who now exercise this right may be doing so not out of fear, but rather as a form of political speech—another constitutional right.


Thus, since people publicly carrying guns are only exercising constitutionally protected rights, and since they have never evidenced violence toward the public, government or political opponents, we should be questioning the motives of those who would restrict the free exercise of this liberty, rather than the other way around. Perhaps, in the words of the bumper sticker, those who would ban the carrying of firearms at political rallies would “prefer unarmed peasants” rather than free people.


H. Sterling Burnett is a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative public policy research organization. Readers may write to him at NCPA, 12770 Coit Road, Suite 800, Dallas, Texas 75251-1339; website: www.ncpa.org.

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