Filed under: Conservatism
Megan is right: the people carrying guns openly at anti-Obama rallies probably won’t fire them. I don’t think we should be complacent about any risk of people shooting each other at political rallies. I am confident that the possibility of a gun being discharged at an anti-Obama rally before the next midterm is greater than 0.5%. That is a risk I don’t see the point of tolerating. If Megan wants to take a 100-to-1 bet on that happening — $500 to me if it happens, $5 to her if it doesn’t — I’d take that bet.
Megan then asks that we stop calling the gun-toters “crazed militia members”. I don’t know who used that phrase. But both the “crazed” and “militia member” demographics are highly overrepresented among people who bring guns to Obama rallies, compared to the population as a whole.
The point of the argument, though, isn’t really about the likelihood of a shootout. The point is that a gun is an instrument of violence. People who bring guns to rallies may feel they are saying “I have the right to carry a gun, and that is an important value that I feel is part of being an American.” But liberals who see conservatives at rallies carrying guns think they are saying, roughly, “I am prepared to use armed violence in defense of my views.” And obviously since our views differ, that is a threatening message to get.
The politics of this issue are very heavily bound up with the fact that anyone who carries a gun openly in the US is at least 90% likely to be a right-wing white Christian heterosexual male. If there were large numbers of muscular black guys with Malcolm X or Black Panther Party t-shirts walking down residential streets in Phoenix carrying AR-15s, or lots of Wiccan diesel dykes showing up at anti-Sarah Palin rallies with abortion rights signs and Glocks in their belts, there would be some NRA members who had no problem with that. But the large majority of regular center-right folks who normally support gun rights and oppose Obama would be very uncomfortable with that sort of thing.
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