America’s Gun Culture On Display

Look at the picture below …

US-HEALTH-VIRUS-PROTESTThose are not National Guardsmen, nor are they law enforcement nor military.  They are armed … heavily armed … protestors at a rally in Michigan.  Would you be comfortable anywhere near this group of rabblerousers with guns?  I certainly would not!  I have planned for several days to write about this very ominous situation that was repeated in cities around the nation last week, but today I came across an OpEd by a contributor for The Washington Post that summed it up nicely.


We cannot allow the normalization of firearms at protests to continue

Michele-NorrisBy Michele L. Norris 

Opinions contributor and consultant

May 6, 2020 at 5:23 p.m. EDT

This we know: Black or brown people gathering in the streets or at the statehouse with rifles and body armor would not be tolerated.

They would not be allowed to yell in the face of police officers.

They would not be referred to as “very good people” by a sitting president.

There would be no debate about First or Second Amendment rights.

There would be arrests. Lots of them.

Let’s just admit that.

And let’s admit this, too: We’ve gotten far too accustomed to the image of white protesters carrying paramilitary-level firearms in public spaces. The presence of guns — often really large guns — at protests has become alarmingly normalized. It is time to take stock of what that means.

Accepting and even expecting to see firearms at protest rallies means that we somehow embrace the threat of chaos and violence. While those who carry say they have no intention of using their weapons, the firepower alone creates a wordless threat, and something far more calamitous if even just one person discharges a round.

If someone were to go rogue, it would be difficult for police to identify a shooter while facing a phalanx of protesters who all have rifles strapped to their shoulders. Distinguishing law enforcement from people dressed as “enforcers” could be tough. During the August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, the Virginia National Guard tweeted that its troops were wearing “MP” patches on their uniforms so people could sort the military police from the rifle-wielding paramilitary groups that showed up wearing helmets, camouflage and tactical vests.

Accepting the open display of firearms at protests means we can expect an increased militarization of state and local law enforcement agencies seeking to protect their troops.

Accepting the open display of firearms at rallies means we must also admit this confirms a significant cultural shift that collides with norms and current laws. The protesters that stormed the statehouse in Michigan were within their right to carry guns inside the state Capitol under open-carry laws. But their actions were far outside of the comfort zone for many people who work in that building and who dedicate their lives to finding civil solutions to disagreements.

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey is a Republican and Second Amendment champion who initially supported challenges to the state’s shutdown order. But in a statement last week, he condemned the use of “intimidation and the threat of physical harm to stir up fear and feed rancor.” There are now discussions about reviewing the laws that allow citizens to carry and display guns inside the Michigan statehouse.

Almost every state has legal tools to crack down on armed militias under laws that prevent the formation of private paramilitaries that are not answerable to civil authorities. Such groups cannot falsely assume police or military roles and are not allowed to provide military training to prepare members for civil disorders. But when heavily armed protesters show up in formation at rallies, they certainly flout these laws.

Is this brazen display of force about the right to own firearms or the right to make armed threats for political purposes? Just asking, because the latter is not a “right” that can be equally asserted. The protests are purportedly about reopening America. A parallel goal is realignment — using the Second Amendment to conduct regular and routine shows of force to intimidate elected officials into enacting a political agenda.

Accepting the display of firearms at protests by some and not others means that we must also accept that some are rewarded with a kind of special citizenship that allows them to be seen as patriotic instead of threatening, and aggrieved instead of aggressive.

If we accept this as normal, it means the country collectively is shrugging its shoulders and co-signing a skewed social contract, in which white-nationalist groups grow in size and influence, as threats against politicians and journalists escalate, and as gun violence and mass shootings continue to rise.

Accepting this increasingly brazen display of guns as normal means an armed political movement is flourishing outside the guardrails of our political system.

This didn’t happen overnight. Advocates for open-carry have been carrying handguns and rifles to department stores, Starbucks and state capitols since 2013 in an effort to normalize firearms in public. The movement is coincidentally aligned with an entertainment trend in which paramilitary forces take center stage in popular video games and TV shows such as HBO’s “Watchmen” and Showtime’s “Homeland.”

Polls show that most Americans prefer a go-slow approach to reopening most businesses. The armed protesters in places such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and North Carolina represent a tiny minority. Some surveys put the most insistent open-now crowd at less than 10 percent. But the weapons make their influence seem larger — and they know that. We see protests punctuated by guns almost every day. It has become routine. We have normalized something that should be shocking.

27 thoughts on “America’s Gun Culture On Display

    • I think … and I hope I’m wrong … that this is going to be a summer of violence to match 1991 after the Rodney King beatings. It’s predicted to be the hottest summer on record, tensions are already at an all-time high, the economy is going to tank by the end of summer, we have a madman at the helm, and it’s a very contentious election year. Add to that racial tensions … what could possibly go wrong?

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    • I am 100% with you on that! I’ve long said that there is absolutely no reason for guns in the hands of civilians. Their excuses are pathetic and this nation would be far safer with guns only in the hands of the military and law enforcement. But, the 2nd Amendment is more important to the gun nuts that the entirety of the 1st Amendment, and with such a powerful lobby, I don’t look for them to go away anytime soon. I read recently a woman was arrested for having money in her bra (they thought she had robbed a restaurant), but if she had a gun in her bra, it would have been fine and dandy.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Jill, there is a reason for laws. There is a reason things are done for the common good. Sometimes, laws have to protect people from themselves. Masks are designed to protect others from your germs as much to protect you from theirs. I was dropping a car off to be serviced this morning and when I walked in, I was the only person, worker or patron, wearing a mask.

    Opening to quickly and without forethought heightens pandemic risk. Opening because of extremists carrying guns and barking out loud in places they should not is unwise. I support what Gov. DeWine and Sean Hannity said. But, Hannity did mention we have too many folks that it is OK to bring a gun to a civil protest. I have been to more than a half-dozen protests and the thought of bringing a weapon does not even enter my mind (get ball cap, sign and AK47, really?).

    But, here is a reason we have laws. “Common sense is very uncommon,” said Horace Greeley. He is right.
    Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The next civil war will not be between the north and the south.
    The next civil war will be between Republicans and Democrats.
    The founding fathers would be turning in their graves if they could see what a mess the country is now in.
    What happened to America, the land of the free?
    It seems it took a simple pandemic to bring out everyone’s true colours.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, between Republicans and Democrats, brother vs brother, neighbor vs neighbor. What happened to “America, the land of the free”, you ask? Arrogance and greed. Bigotry and racism. And religion, which ties in with all of the above. Unfortunately, even if Trump loses in November, even if by some miracle all the members of Congress that are in the pockets of big business and lobbyists lose, we will still have this problem, for the snakes have slithered out from under their rocks, and it’s going to be hard to get them to return.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. i have been convinced by the morons within our little ” white” world that the second amendment needs repealing, and repealing fast! No semi-auto, no auto’s, no handguns, just a shot gun for those who can prove they EAT what they shoot. MAYBE..I kind of would rather those shotgun holders would just starve to death instead of being allowed t own a weapon. The last protest I attended, there were several young white men with very large guns across the street..those idiots wee waving their weapons around like they wanted to shoot the 150+ old ladies gathered to protest…and I have to admit, I lost my mind. I did…..only explanation for me going across the street with my sign and smacking one man upside his head repeatedly while yelling “YOUR momma is SO ASHAMED of you!” and when someone yelled back at me, I turned and shouted “How DARE you? Where are your morals young man?” it shut them down….they all started wandering away. I wouldn’t suggest anyone else do this, but an old woman with a walker and a protest sign wields some power…….

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  4. Sorry there is no sane reason for a civilian at all to carry a gun on the streets of a US town or city. None. Get another hobby. One which is safer for your countries kids. Find another way to make yourself look big. Tell you a far better way to make you look big and brave. Volunteer to work in a care home or hospital. That’s brave. That’s a good look. Makes you look like a true hero.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You are absolutely, 100% right about that, and it is what I’ve said forever now. There is really no reason for any civilian to even OWN a bloody gun! This is one of the things I hate most about this country, second only to the bigotry & racism. And bravo for your suggestion that if they really want to earn kudos, do some volunteer work in a care home or hospital, or even a food bank or homeless shelter, where they would see how very lucky they are. But, welcome to the United States of Fools and Idiots.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. All good common sense. There is no good reason to carry a weapon inside a State Capitol other than to nnormalise the sight of weapons in public so people become numb to them. The majority should not have to become numb to the minority. They have permission to own guns but the Government and the majority of people have the right to say where those guns should be carried, never inside a public building, never inside a shop, never at a protest and never where there are children.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sadly, common sense is something that is sorely lacking in the U.S. today. There is no good reason for anybody to carry a firearm anywhere, for that matter, and I’d love to see them banned once and for all. The stage is set for a violent summer, and while there is plenty of blame to go around, in part I have to blame the NRA and Congress for being too cowardly to pass any gun legislation, even to ban assault weapons, which you’ll notice in the picture is what most of those assholes are carrying. Sigh.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 1 person

    • I wonder that frequently myself. I guess in the same way that through the years, the 1st Amendment has been stretched to claim that “Freedom of Speech” includes corporations giving mega donations to politicians, and the KKK having the right to incite violence in public. You know that story, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”? It’s rather like that … give people a right or privilege, and they will test the limits. There are more guns in this country today than there are people. And probably half of them are not even registered, so … who knows in what hands they might turn up? It’s not a very safe feeling. A few years ago in the middle of the night, there were gunshots in my backyard, about 3 feet from my kitchen door. As far as I know, the police never caught the guy. Personally, I see no reason for ANY civilian to own a firearm.

      Liked by 2 people

      • No, there’s no reason. That’s why, in general, they’re not allowed to over here. I mean, why should they? Give people guns and they are likely to use them, or at the very least threaten to do so. And then people will claim they need guns to protect themselves against…guns.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I’ll be brief. You speak of the hate group “KKK” but do not mention other widely and more current hate groups such as “Antifa”… interesting how the almost decimated KKK clowns are more visible to you than the masked, anti-establishment Antifa. Guns will never be registered, I won’t explain, you would understand… and finally, I hope you never have to encounter an armed assailant trying to kick your front door down in the middle of the night, good luck getting the police there in less than 5 minutes.

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        • Let me tell you a few things, buddy. First, I have faced a gun pointed at me TWICE in my 68 years, and I’ve lived to tell about it. Second, to tell me that “you wouldn’t understand” is offensive. I have a B.S. and M.S. in Political Science and a Ph.D. in International Relations. Yes, I know about the other hate groups, but the KKK are the original killers of people of colour in this nation. Antifa? Wrong methods, but right idea. Next time you feel a need to act like you are so much more intelligent than another, go pick on a racist, a homophobe, an Islamophobe, or maybe Donald Trump.

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