Should protesters be allowed to carry guns? | The Tylt
Should protesters be allowed to carry guns?
Guns are too dangerous to have at a protest. American politics is becoming increasingly polarized. Demonstrations and counter-demonstrations continue to devolve into street battles. Having armed protesters present is a recipe for disaster.
During the demonstrations at Charlottesville, the National Guard had to mark their uniforms with "MP" to differentiate themselves from the armed militias. These militias claim they weren't there for either side. They were there to protect the First Amendment and everyone's right to free speech. In a similar vein, militia groups across the U.S. have appeared at political protests to protect protesters on both the left and the right.
When white supremacists carry guns to their demonstrations, it’s not even clear what “expressive” message they’re trying to convey. But whatever they might be saying with their guns, cities, towns and universities have the right—the responsibility—to protect all citizens, and the First Amendment rights of all. In this way, public safety and the First Amendment are powerfully linked. Those vital interests should be enough to justify a ban on openly carrying weapons during these demonstrations, especially since we now know that the conduct can chill not only the counter-demonstrators, but even the police. If they’re afraid to do their jobs, the First Amendment is indeed a hollow guarantee.
Others point out the left is freaking out over guns because they always freak out over guns. Have any of the heavily armed militiamen harmed anyone with their weapons? In Boston, Houston, Charlottesville and all the other places where people can open carry, not a single bullet was fired. People are attacking each other with sticks, cars, bottles, rocks and anything else they can get their hands on. But not guns.
At another level, constitutional rights do not end simply because there's a protest going on. Like it or not, lawmakers have to balance public safety with the rights enshrined in the Constitution. Bearing arms is one of those rights.
Beth Baumann at The Blaze argues people are bringing weapons as a means of self-defense. People who open carry are typically experienced gun owners. They're only seeking to protect themselves.
The idea is simple: Those who carry don’t want to ever have to shoot someone. But they’re not willing to risk their lives or the lives of their loved ones in order to be politically correct.
Carriers aren’t looking to intimidate others or keep them from expressing their political opinions. They’re carrying their firearm in case situation turns violent and they need to defend themselves.