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Packing Heat Near the President

From the National Rifle Association’s Web site: “At the NRA, we're dedicated to the lawful, effective, responsible and above all safe use of firearms.” If the NRA were to take that commitment seriously, why wouldn’t the organization loudly discourage gun owners from, say, bringing loaded weapons to a presidential town hall, as several did recently? Or from threatening the president while wearing a packed leg holster?

Each incident happened this month, and they’re scary -- even putting aside the fact that we're talking about disgruntled activists brandishing guns near the president. I'm an Eagle Scout trained in firearm use, and I can’t count the number of possible accidents that could result from lugging a heavy semi-automatic into a large crowd. That’s why one of the first lessons I learned about gun safety is that you never bring out your weapon unless you have to -- and, given that there’s no need to hunt game or defend oneself at a heavily policed political rally, none of these gun owners can argue that they had to. Perhaps the NRA’s directors need a refresher course.

True, the NRA probably can’t persuade the nutjobs to leave their guns at home, in their cars or, in some cases, even in holsters. But the organization can and should scream that this isn’t appropriate firearm use, regardless of whether it is legal. And if promoting responsible gun ownership were a priority, the NRA could use one of its most influential tools -- the scores it gives to politicians -- to get more of our leaders to repudiate such carelessness, or at least assure political figures their standing with the NRA won’t be hurt if they do so. That’s not an infringement or even a criticism of the NRA’s interpretation of the Second Amendment. It’s merely an exhortation to treat rightful gun ownership with responsibility.

Instead, though, the NRA uses its scores to do such things as drum up opposition to Sonia Sotomayor. Meanwhile, its implied position on the town-hall toters has cowed even the White House, which just defended the activists’ right to pack heat near the president.

By Stephen Stromberg  | August 19, 2009; 6:30 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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Comments

There is no right of individuals to carry arms unless they are part of a "regulated militia" of a state. D.C. law was overturned since it did not qualify as a state regulating it's militia. NYC strict gun laws are constitutional as are the people carrying weapons ignorantly to rallies. The secret service also has the ability to disarm anyone that could possibly harm the president. Carrying the army AR-15 is legal since it is used by military or police. Sawed off shotguns are not according to a Supreme Court ruling.

Posted by: jameschirico | August 19, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Logic has no place in the NRA. Either you're a Republican or you're lying about your position on guns.

Posted by: mikem1 | August 19, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

I completely agree with your column, Mr. Stromberg.

In addition, blatant attempts to intimidate our public officials also dampens free discussion.

Would I attend a town hall where I thought there would be gun-toting crazies? (Oops, I should have said "responsible gun-owners"?)

No, carrying a gun in at or near a public gathering is intimidation--intimidation of anyone and everyone in the vicinity.

Posted by: spbphil | August 19, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

The NRA is the biggest domestic terrorist group in America. Gun owners have killed more innocent Americans than the Muslim fanatics did on 9/11.

Now they are making it plain that they have no qualms about putting our President's life in danger. We are a nation of cowards for letting them get away with it.

Posted by: Trakker | August 19, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

It never occurred to me that someone would be permitted to carry a weapon to a Presidential event. And not just a handgun but an assault weapon - and unbelievably it doesn't even require a permit. Any nut job can come in with one slung over their shoulder.

What if hundreds of people show up armed and worse what if we don't even know because they're carrying concealed weapons.

With the anger that's being whipped up by lies and distortions this is an extremely volatile situation. I fear for our President's safety and based on a town hall sign wishing death on Michelle and the girls, for his family.

Carrying weapons anywhere near our President or his family should never be allowed. Remember those fenced free speech zones? Put the gun toters in a fenced area.

Posted by: FauxReal | August 19, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

It is sad to note that Mr. Stromberg, with his learned position with the Post, has only a passing fancy with the Constitution of the United States of America. The rights granted to all Americans, including Mr. Stromberg, do not just go out the window because another American, the President, comes to your town. The NRA, like any lobbyist group (of which the Post pays many lobbyist groups I might add) is paid to uphold the rights (in this case, guaranteed by the US Constitution, such a pesky document) and wishes of it's constituents. THe NRA is no more or less, "...dangerous..." than the AMA, you just like getting ink based on your personal prejudices, and your utter disdain for facts or your fellow Americans. As an American, I have and will continue to protect your right, given to you freely via the US Constitution (there we go, that pesky document, AGAIN!) to voice your opinion, as long as you understand your RESPONSIBILITY to report, FACTS, nor your pre-digested, personally slanted agenda, you are peddling here, as....facts. Such a travesty of Yelloe Journalism, the Post should, if they had any journalistic integrity AT ALL, fire you.

Posted by: rfc2307 | August 19, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Since I was just 19 when JFK was shot, saw Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy shot, that crazy southerner George Wallace, Bradley, Reagan, etc -- it is dangerous to let people bring assault weapons to a town hall meeting or to watch the President of the United States. If the GOP cannot quelch this action instead of encourage it, they don't belong as part of our electorate! This is absurd, there are crazy people out their and the media nuts encourage it and supposed intellegent senators and congressmen do not speak out -- someone needs to take the mike and speak to these people instead of insite them.

Posted by: paulet | August 19, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Let's make something clear, contrary to one poster's concerns, no one was allowed IN the event with a firearm.

I do agree that it was immature, unnecessary and dangerous to bring a weapon to any public gathering that is policed. What if someone grabbed the firearm and started shooting? What if one of the people carrying a firearm reached for their wallet, or cell phone and a sharp-shooter monitoring the situation thought they were going for their gun? It happens at traffic stops and crime scenes all the time with people who aren't even armed!

Posted by: JRM2 | August 19, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Is this a great country or what?! Is there any doubt that the show of weapons is an attempt at intimidation and stifling of debate? And the gun crowd will blather on about their inalienable right to carry dangerous weapons wherever they want, whenever they want.

Is it any wonder people all around the world see coverage of these events and conclude that Americans are unstable maniacs?

Posted by: BwanaDik | August 19, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Stromberg's logic is about as flawed as saying the White House needs to muzzle Howard Dean.

Posted by: topgun97365 | August 19, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

"Each incident happened this month, and they’re scary -- even putting aside the fact that we're talking about disgruntled activists brandishing guns near the president. I'm an Eagle Scout trained in firearm use, and I can’t count the number of possible accidents that could result from lugging a heavy semi-automatic into a large crowd."


Scary? Yes, you are a very scary little Eagle Scout. Using the MSM to try and convince people that only the government should be armed. Because the government will always protect you, right?

If anyone buys into this idiocy please be aware that you are being played. Conditioned to fear other people. If you believe that someone who is LEGALLY carrying a firearm is a threat then you have and will believed that Bush was keeping you safe from "terrorist" and that Janet Napolitano only wants your life history to keep you safe.

There are some people who buy into this propaganda. Others see right through it and realize it is just the MSM machine looking for a reason to shift the blame off the current administration. Hey, it worked for Bush, it will work for Obama.

Posted by: mdsinc | August 19, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

The "nutjobs" need to go. People who carry assault rifles in public should be the first to be removed (it doesn't matter where you send them, just get them away from everyone else).

Responsible people who own guns likely keep them to protect themselves from the sociopaths and psychopaths creeping about this land.

Until the lowest variants of humanity are bred out existence, public life and safety can only grow worse.

Posted by: dlkimura | August 19, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

We have our soldiers all over Iraq and Afghanistan caring much more than assault rifles. How do think their citizens feel? How would ours feel in similar circumstances? There has got to be a better way!!! Be well; Peace....dan

Posted by: d_rapson | August 19, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

I was thinking that if Bush Jr had ever faced an armed protester, he would have soiled himself until he was up to his knees in it.

Bush Jr. rarely appeared anywhere in public during his 8 years in office. But if he ever did, every person in the crowd was hand-picked, and made to sign a loyalty oath.

Protesters were isolated to fenced-in areas miles from the President.

No matter how bad things get with the gun nuts, it's a relief to know that at least the guy at the top is in good mental health.

Posted by: jamesbatic | August 19, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

If you are trying to logically understand why the NRA takes the positions that it does, don't bother-it can't be done. The NRA is involved in all matter of political issues that have nothing at all to do with the right to own firearms. Their leadership is a bunch of extremists righties. Many of their members are responsible people who fear someone wants to take their guns away. Of course, no one has any such intention.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | August 19, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

First of all, bringing a gun to a political meeting turns that gun into a political weapon and is therefore intimidation.

RFC2307, one's constitutional right stops at the end of another's nose. I don't have the right to stand in a crowded theatre and yell fire and cause death and suffering, and I have a duty of care to my fellow citizens; this duty does not include standing in a crowd with a loaded assault weapon. Also the space around the president is by law federal space, and one's right to carry guns doens't apply there.

Posted by: realadult | August 19, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Stromberg, you are an id8ot. The guy at the protest was lawful, effective, responsible and safe. AND HE WASN'T THREATENING ANYBODY, YOU IGNORANT NAME-CALLER.

Posted by: chatard | August 19, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

There are crazies ...and then there are crazies. These guys packing the heat are the dangerous crazies, and while I am all for democracy, I sure would appreciate it if someone would just strap on a pair in the name of "freedom" or "socialism" or whatever suits your fancy. Tackle them before they take out our prez. or the "normal" crazies who bring their children to these events. Just a thought.

Posted by: tmcproductions2004 | August 19, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

My principal quarrel is not with the fools who take guns to the these events. It is with the politicians who have sold themselves to the NRA. That includes most Republicans and a very large number of Democrats in Congress.

I am represented by two Democrats in the Senate (Webb and Warner) who are more concerned about their NRA ratings than with representing their constituents or with the public interest. For example, they both voted to repeal all of the District's gun laws and to require all states to recognize the license to carry a concealed weapon issued by any state in their state.

I voted for both of them. I will not do that again.

Posted by: esch | August 19, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

mndsinc, it was a lawful gun owner who killed two cops in Pittsburgh recently. spouting the NRA lie that Obama was coming to take his guns. It was a lawful gun owner who killed his wife and two children in a Baltimore hotel a few months ago. It was a lawful gunowner who shot a man on a the expressway in Philly earlier this year, with the victim's 3-yr old daughter strapped in a car seat. Why? Because the other driver had passed him. And you think it's okay to have people carrying guns around the President when others are holding signs calling for the death of his wife and children. I think the shrinks are right when they say men carry guns because some other equipment is too small.

Posted by: mikel7 | August 19, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm curious:

What happens if you carry a loaded weapon into a Congressional chamber?

Do you think that Congress might think that is fine?

So why would it be ok to carry a loaded weapon around a meeting with President?

Sorry, I am just a dumb American citizen/voter.


Posted by: icyone | August 19, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: BwanaDik
"Is it any wonder people all around the world see coverage of these events and conclude that Americans are unstable maniacs?"

No.

Not only that, they use Americans as evidence that man is STILL evolving from apes.

Posted by: plaza04433 | August 19, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

These social retards are potentially very dangerous. As a gun owner and Viet Nam Veteran, I have nothing but disrespect for either their macho problems or their need to be seen while, possibly, putting innocents at risk! Another reason not to join the NRA........

An Independent

Posted by: aeaustin | August 19, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

"It is sad to note that Mr. Stromberg, with his learned position with the Post, has only a passing fancy with the Constitution of the United States of America..."


Are you illiterate? Probably. This article is not about the constitutional right to bear arms (...regarding a well-regulated militia). It's about how the NRA claims to support RESPONSIBLE gun ownership and yet fails to reprimand the idiots who carry loaded weapons into an emotional area where there are secret service agents trying to prevent an assassination of the President.

Carrying a gun to a protest is not patriotic. Modeled after the earlier Roman republic, the founding fathers hoped that our political system would preclude guns, rather than necessitate them.

I suspect that most gun owners, like myself, keep their firearms for sport or perhaps self-defense. Most probably own a rifle or shotgun, these being sufficient.

These people carrying weapons near the President are just overcompensating for their tiny little members. It's sad, really.

Posted by: ihatelogins | August 19, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: mikel7
"I think the shrinks are right when they say men carry guns because some other equipment is too small."

You have lurched uncontrollably into the truth.

Posted by: plaza04433 | August 19, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

rfc2307, Stephen Stromberg is not arguing against the RIGHT to bear arms, but is arguing that those who exercise that RIGHT by carrying weapons to a peaceful protest are not acting RESPONSIBLY. The analogous case would be exercising your first amendment RIGHT to yell "fire" in a crowded room when there isn't one, but by no means would that be RESPONSIBLE.

Posted by: bselig1 | August 19, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

I really do wish one of those "citizens exercising their rights" had unholstered their pistol or raised their assault rifle to shoulder position. Then we would all have been given a lesson in marksmanship by the Secret Service. The "right to bear arms" in the Second Amendment doesn't say anything about the right to be suicidally insane.

Posted by: thrh | August 19, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Rights come with Responsibilities. Just because you have the "right" to do something doesn't mean you can act like an irresponsible lunatic in doing it.

Posted by: thrh | August 19, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

There are some genies you certainly never let out of the bottle. This happens to be one of them. If it's okay to bear arms to an event where the President is in attendance, then members of Congress need to be on the lookout. They are not afforded the level of Secret Service protection given the President; by being casual to this danger to the President, members of Congress invite danger into their presence. They can keep stirring the pot and enraging these crackpots, however the Secret Service will take out any threat to the President. Members of Congress may have to depend on local law enforcement for their protection when back in their districts.

Posted by: ATLGuy | August 19, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm a gunowner and I find these people insane. Their stunt is all too likely to backfire by convincing moderates that gun rights activists are dangerous domestic terrorists.

If a bill had been tabled threatening the 2nd Amendment, I might understand bringing a gun to a protest. But a health debate?

The gun control movement is dead. But I think these people wish it were alive, so they could fight it.

Posted by: kenonwenu | August 19, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in the country around hunters and guns. Guns at a presidential event are not appropriate. Whether these men are juvenile, stupid, or threatening, I'm not sure. But if I had my way, anyone exhibiting such poor judgment would be barred from owning a gun. I agree with those who suggested that for some men, a gun compensates for other inadequacies.

Posted by: MNUSA | August 19, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

We don't allow guns in courtrooms, in schools, or on airplanes and they should not be allowed near the President of the United States. This is a clear attempt to intimidate all Americans and a clear and present threat to the President and our democracy.

People carrying these guns are distracting and, should the president or someone be hurt by someone else while police are watching the person with the gun, would there be any legal charges against them? This practice should be stopped immediately.

Posted by: maggieww | August 19, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

The NRA is MIA, as usual.

Posted by: rwoloszyn | August 20, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

It seems like unfortunately no one in this discussion is an actual Constitutionalist. Last time I checked The Bill of Rights were rights held both individually as well as corporately by all US citizens. Thus, putting protestors in freedom pens for exercising their 1st amendment rights is ultimately an unconstitutional act. Likewise, warrantless wiretapping is a violation of the fourth amendment. The indefinite detention of US citizens at Gitmo and other places of extraordinary rendition is a violation of Habeus Corpus and our 5th amendment. So too, limiting private citizens' exercise of their right to keep and bear arms at any public rally, event, or place is a violation of the 2nd amendment. It seems that liberals are as much tyrannts of our Constitutional rights as are neoconservatives. Very disappointing, but I suppose hypocrisy and mendacity spring eternal.

Posted by: nathanfriendly | August 20, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse

If anyone buys into this idiocy please be aware that you are being played. Conditioned to fear other people. If you believe that someone who is LEGALLY carrying a firearm is a threat then you have and will believed that Bush was keeping you safe from "terrorist" and that Janet Napolitano only wants your life history to keep you safe.

Posted by: mdsinc | August 19, 2009 8:45 PM |
============
What?!?!?!? Are you telling me that anyone who is LEGALLY carrying a firearm is not a threat? There are an awful lot of dead people who were murdered by men who were LEGALLY carrying their firearms. All but one of the mass murders this year were committed by LEGALLY armed individuals, three of whom had concealed carry permits.

Hell yes, if someone comes walking up my street carrying an assault rifle and isn't wearing a military or police uniform, I'm going to assume he's a threat!

And there is absolutely NO sane rationalization for carrying a gun to a political event of any kind, and certainly not one where the President is appearing, I don't care who s/he is. The ONLY reason these people are showing up armed is to intimidate: "don't mess with us or else...."

And anyone who holds up a sign threatening to water the tree of liberty with blood while carrying a gun in a leg holster is making an overt threat, and should have been arrested at the very least.

A country that has experienced as many political assassinations as we have should under no circumstances permit armed people anywhere near the President unless they are Secret Service, FBI or some other person with a legitimate reason to be so armed.

Even in Arizona, you cannot carry an assault rifle into an airport, much less on the plane. Nor can you carry firearms into a courthouse or other government building. NO Constitutional right is totally without reasonable limit, i.e., the first amendment does not give you the right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater.

Our founders were NOT anarchists, and it is highly unpatriotic, if not treasonous, to suggest that they advocated being able to go armed anywhere, anytime, for any reason without reason or restriction.

Posted by: windrider2 | August 20, 2009 1:47 AM | Report abuse

In your search for the NRA, currently MIA, don't bother searching in Iraq or Afghanistan, you can be sure they are NOT serving in America's "well regulated militia" defending the 2nd amendment from those who really hate our freedoms.

As for the people who show up with guns at presidential activities, unless they are card carrying members of the Secret Service they should be arrested and perp-walked in front of all available tv and web cameras as they are escorted to jail!

Posted by: RepubliCult | August 20, 2009 2:42 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Janet should make a statement that anyone carrying a gun while attending the Presidential Townhall meeting "will be arrested and charged with...hell who cares!

Republicans are really killing themselves because of they selected memory they don't remember in New York 2004 when Protestors against Bush were arrested (for practicing their right to voice their opinion)

Rudy Gulliane(?) had most of them locked up for two weeks!

Some lost their jobs just for protesting!

Janet from Homrland Security You are going to have to step up too the plate and let them know....

YOU CANNOT CARRY A GUN NEAR A PRESIDENTIAL TOWNHALL MEETING - IT DOESN'T MATTER IF YOU HAVE A PERMIT IT JUST PLAIN DUMB AND STUPID AND YOU SHOULD BE LOCKED UP!!!

Posted by: danson1 | August 20, 2009 2:53 AM | Report abuse

"The guy at the protest was lawful, effective, responsible and safe. AND HE WASN'T THREATENING ANYBODY, YOU IGNORANT NAME-CALLER"

chatard

Mate the guy with a gun held a sign that said "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants": Obama = the tyrant is his mind. It is a direct threat, there is no doubt about this.

This is a rally about saving people lives and he turms up with a gn. This is moronic. This is not the 3rd world, it is and should be a national embarrasement to America that this is allowed to occur.

It is voter intimidation at its worst, it is one step away from the Taliban and when 30, 40 of these guys start turning up, who opposing thwm would dare?

They are gutless cowards, fight like a man if u have to but dont bring a gun. The only reason u need it is cause there are so many guns that are avaialable to virtually anyone.

What a pathetic paranoid, violent society u live in. I am glad I live in Australia where only crack dealers feel the need to have guns.

It is you sir who are the idiot.

Posted by: Chops2 | August 20, 2009 3:06 AM | Report abuse

The 2nd Amendment stands. The
President himself Reaffirmed
our right to carry a loaded
semi auto AR 15 Garrison Gun
in public and even outside a
function where he himself is
present. He had Robert Gibbs
announce that to the world
yesterday on TV. Mr President,
Sir; I misjudged you. At The
Moment of Truth, you defended
my 2nd Amendment Right to pack
a loaded firearm in public, as
our founders guaranteed us in
The Bill of Rights. Yes,it was
written in 18th Century Parlance;
but it's clear: We all have the
unrestricted right to own and
carry anywhere we want to-
uninfringed. That means "No
Restrictions". President Obama,
Sir; Since you are a great
enough man and cool enough guy
to stand up for the Bill of
Rights like this and especially
in defiance of your own party-
I will meet you half way, try to
be more open minded about your
policy ideas and be more patient
to give you a chance to become
The Great Commander In Chief I can
see you becoming. I have been
against you from the get go and
very vocal about it on line. I'm
sorry, Sir. You are the C0 and
millions of us guys who carry
are going to see you in a much
more respectful light. Stand Firm,
Captain. We will follow you. All
present and accounted for, Sir.
Don't back down on this, Sir. It's
your moment in history. Your call
to defend the 2nd Amendment changes
everything for tens and tens of
millions of guys like me. I was a
basic infantry rifleman when I went
to work for Sam The Man and a basic
federal lawman when I left. Let's
rock & roll, Commander. Let's
rebuild America, Sir. You've got
our attention. We've defended
America for more than 200 years.
We're not violent. We're Americans.

Posted by: iamredwolf | August 20, 2009 4:29 AM | Report abuse

Sorry! NRA has twisted the Second Amendment to their intent of bearing firearms. Where is the Militia? Time to re-amend the Second Amendment. I am a loyal Republican from Maryland.

Posted by: Golam | August 20, 2009 4:30 AM | Report abuse

Check out these crazy radical extremists threatening the President, wanted dead or alive pictures, noose pictures, guillotine pictures and much more.

http://www.zombietime.com/zomblog/?p=621

Posted by: fury60 | August 20, 2009 5:55 AM | Report abuse

It says a well trained militia is necessary, it says the people (as opposed to the States or the federal government) have a right to bear arms. It doesn't say you have to be in the militia, the militia is a subset that would be drawn from the larger pool or armed citizens.

Posted by: ronjaboy | August 20, 2009 6:17 AM | Report abuse

rfc2307 "Such a travesty of Yelloe Journalism, the Post should, if they had any journalistic integrity AT ALL, fire you."

It's utterly amazing that you rant and rave over the 2nd amendment, but when it comes to the first amendment, you can't abide by it. The words in that "pesky document" giving us freedom of speech and freedom of the press apparently aren't so important to the gun toting mob that wants to use weapons and intimidation to suppress all thought and expression other than their own.

Posted by: thuff7 | August 20, 2009 7:04 AM | Report abuse

Overreact much? You need to take a clue from both the police and the Secret Service, neither of whom were in a tizzy over citizens practicing their 2nd amendment rights.

Those who were open carrying - or concealed carrying, for that matter - were never in proximity of the president. For obvious reasons they would never make it through the security to gain entrance to the event.

The NRA has a long history of promoting responsible gun ownership and use. And you might want to open your eyes and observe the people you cross in your path on a daily basis as more of them are carrying than you know.

Posted by: JackESpratt | August 20, 2009 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Everybody in authority with access to the facts thinks this was a completely harmless incident. The President, the Secret Service, the local cops - everybody.

Very strange that you think you can make an issue out of it. What's your agenda?

Posted by: ZZim | August 20, 2009 7:29 AM | Report abuse

While I am not against guns or gun ownership, I do think carrying to a public political event creates new opportunities for serious harm both to the public and to public discourse. I'm thinking less of the safety of the president and more about heightened tensions within the crowd, the potential for accidents to happen that wouldn't if the guns weren't there.

As a thought experiment, consider the reaction of the crowd if the person carrying "seemed obviously Muslim" ... perhaps even waving a Koran and telling the Christians in attendance that their blood would sanctify an ascending Islamic world?

Our problems have more to do with our prejudices and an appparent willingness to live without thinking critically about the information being spewed on talk radio and television that both overtly and covertly espouses violence against others.

Posted by: swazal | August 20, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

The NRA and the GOP are using these acts to instigate another incident. They want to claim the Administration is anti-Second Amendment and bury it in another sideshow. The GOP orchestrated the health care protests and elevated it when the media over reported it. It is more of the fear campaign. The GOP is normally dedicated to incorrectly labeling opponents. Remember when most of the country did not want to rush into Iraq, they called those people traitors.

Posted by: concerned13 | August 20, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

I think the sight of people bringing guns to public events will finally backfire on the gun nuts. No one mentally healthy can really defend this outrageous display of Second Amendment nonsense. Just give it time. Common sense sometimes does win out. Even in America.

Posted by: ravitchn | August 20, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

There are so many problems associated with people carrying firearms at political rallies that I almost don't know where to start. I'll try to keep it simple and only make two points.

Point 1: rfc2307 wrote something about how this piece is opinion and not fact and the author should be fired. Um, if you would take 30 seconds to actually read the information available on the page, you would see that this is a blog for the Post's OPINION writers and not REPORTERS. So, unless my understanding of the English language has failed me, the author is paid to write his opinions and not as an investigative reporter who is required to report facts with as little bias or opinion as possible.

Point 2: Some have argued that people should be allowed to carry firearms to ensure their personal safety. I firmly believe that the presence of people with firearms at a protest makes the environment less safe for others. So my question is: how come your rights are more important than mine? Why is it that you can make people less safe in the hopes of making yourself safer?

Posted by: Tiki79 | August 20, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

I love how the left wants to make this a major issue. There were a few isolated incidents of people bringing guns and the mindless partisans on the left want to claim it is some broad trend. What a load of crap.

Look, if this was a widespread trend, you would see more than the same three or four video clips of protesters with guns. Liberal pundits want to demonize all conservatives by lumping them with a few nuts. This isn't going to change anyone's mind about health care but it sure is fun for the mindless partisan warriors.

Posted by: bobmoses | August 20, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Are you kidding? The NRA is a terrorist organization.

The REAL question is, where is the Secret Service?

Posted by: solsticebelle | August 20, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

there you go again JackESprat "And you might want to open your eyes and observe the people you cross in your path on a daily basis as more of them are carrying than you know."

Threaten and intimidate those who disagree with you. The Second Amendment Uber Alles. You're all for the right to bear arms, but you're willing to threaten violence against those who support the First Amendment.

Your vision of this country is sickening. The framers of the Constitution never envisioned the right to bear arms as a means to influence public opinion or to intimidate political discourse. But your organized parade of gun-toting lunatics thinks they can impose their own brand of tyranny on the rest of the population if not by their propaganda, then by the barrel of a gun.

Posted by: thuff7 | August 20, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

This is bullying and intimidation. And for any of us who remember bullying and intimidation from our schoolyard days, you know that ignoring it, and refusing to be afraid of it are the only tactics that work against bullies. The president has demonstrated over and over again that he will not be cowed by these nut jobs, and won't even stoop to comment on them.

Now how we as the other kids on the playground decide to deal with the bullies in our midst is another issue. We are citizens with freedom of speech just like these guys. I'm still waiting for people at one of these rallies to tell the gun slingers to take their weapon out of their.

We are a nation of chickens.

Posted by: kitcarlson | August 20, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Out of THERE. Sorry for the misspelling.

Posted by: kitcarlson | August 20, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunatly, radicals are now the core of the Republican party. Few thinkers are now visable in the GOP and they are afraid to speak. What would William Buckley, Jr., say about this mess?

Posted by: lswonder | August 20, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Imagine if a Republican criticized liberals exercising their first amendment rights... Now i am a life member of the NRA and I would not have towed a weapon to a Presidential Town Hall... But I also would not publicly scream profanity at a President as some liberals did during W's term.

The fact that some people held weapons and no violence followed demonstrates that gun owners are reponsible people who wanted to exercise their rights - even if it was just a show....


btw - no word on if any of these guns were loaded...

The liberal urban elite are out of touch with the majority of America and if viewing Americans exercising a right such as this do not tell them that some of us are very worried about this WH's agenda, nothing will.

Posted by: oldnova | August 20, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

"I'm an Eagle Scout trained in firearm use, and I can’t count the number of possible accidents that could result from lugging a heavy semi-automatic into a large crowd."

WERE THEY LOADED????

If not, the most that could happen is getting a broken toe if you drop your "heavy semi-automatic" assault rifle on your foot....

Posted by: oldnova | August 20, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Mark my words... someone, someday is going to be severely hurt from this wing nuttery. It could be the gun toter himself approaching a politician and getting blown away by security personnel. But with the Beck/Limbaugh/Hannity/Coulter/O'Reilly loons inciting violence, some nut is gonna go too far.

Posted by: CardFan | August 20, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Apparently, the Democratic plan is to stigmatise anyone who is opposed to the Obama health plan as a gun-toting nut. That simply is not so, and they know it. There is plenty to object to, and many Democratic Congressmen do. In the first instance, no one really knows what the Obama plan is. True, there are several versions of health plans in various committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate. But unless all have the imprimatur of President Obama, we do not know what to support or oppose. I do object to a process in which the way Americans live will be changed forever by huge bills that Congress has not even bothered to read and understand, and which have been crafted in back rooms by people who are infamously corrupted by monied special interests. If you approve that process, you would fit right into any dictatorial government that has the trappings, but not the substance of democracy. Shame on you.

Posted by: sailhardy | August 20, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Stromberg, the local police, the Secret Service, and the President have all concluded that the protesters were using their weapons in a "lawful, effective, responsible and above all safe use of firearms.”

SO - who do you think you are to second-guess all these responsible parties?

Posted by: ZZim | August 20, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

The blind followers of the NRA make me sick to my stomach. That they won't see reason and insist on using slogans is equally disturbing.

Posted by: Denny_98 | August 20, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Hahahahaha!!!! You're soiling yourself over someone committing the perfectly normal act of carrying a gun, and you expect the NRA to support you?

And you're another person who needs to learn what "brandishing" means.

Posted by: EnjoyEverySandwich | August 20, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

It's their right! Why don't people understand that you can't pick and choose which parts of the constitution we have to adhere to? I thank god that we live in a country free enough that people are able to carry their weapons even to a town hall meetng. It's always perplexed me that some people are so willing to just throw away the freedoms so many generations have fought so hard to establish and preserve.

Posted by: j-rock642 | August 20, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

The comment about the Vietnam vet and gun owner being critical of the NRA made me wonder: Just how many of the NRA members actually served their country in the military (as I did in Vietnam) -- and how many just give lip service to patriotism?

Posted by: alamo2 | August 20, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Stromberg,
Your hyperbolic speech is amusing. I am sure that anyone 'brandishing' a weapon or 'threatening' the president was arrested and is stewing in the clink, but that didn't really happen, did it. By your description, they would have been too tired and winded to do that after 'lugging a heavy semi-automatic' to the event. Do you have girl arms? Pistols aren't heavy, but making them sound so certainly emphasizes your point. Finally, on your Eagle Scout award, congratulations, but your scout master really should have kicked you out. What is the Scout motto? If you remember it, you would know that there isn't any training about not having weapons out unless you intend to use them. That reference is to not pointing a weapon at anything unless you intend to shoot it. Difficult to 'Be Prepared' if you don't have ESP.

Posted by: crusmisel | August 20, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

You couldn't wear an anti-war t-shirt or Kerry lapel pin to one of the village idiot's speaking engagements (you also had to be hand picked to attend by his cronies), but you can walk into an Obama health care rally with an uzi. Can you right wing nut jobs please migrate down to Texas, secede from the union and build a giant wall around yourselves. You can then commence to carry and use your assault weapons anywhere - grocery stores, work, and of course don't forget church.

Posted by: Midknight | August 20, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

It's our right to take guns with us anywhere. Carry a gun to work, to school, to church - anywhere. And why holstered? It's our right to have them drawn, loaded and cocked. Take that you liberals.

Posted by: LifeBeforePrinciple | August 20, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Last I heard, none of the individuals in question was violating any laws.

Next topic ...

Posted by: TheProFromDover | August 20, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I have long referred to the NRA as "the criminals' lobby." Their silence on the issue of packing weapons to town hall meetings is only another indication that their claims to foster "responsible" gun ownership are nothing but idle talk. Pepe La Pew, or whatever their leader's name is, needs to ahve a good reality check.

Posted by: topperale | August 20, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: TheProFromDover -- Last I heard, none of the individuals in question was violating any laws.

Next topic ...
=======================================

Last I heard, abortion was NOT against the law. Next topic....

Posted by: alamo2 | August 20, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

btw - no word on if any of these guns were loaded...

Posted by: oldnova
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Some of the gun toters said that their weapons were loaded. What's the point of carrying an unloaded gun anyway?

Posted by: LifeBeforePrinciple | August 20, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

"Last I heard, none of the individuals in question was violating any laws.
Next topic ..."

TheProFromDover

U just dont get it do u. This is about intimidating those that are for healthcare reform. Where does this end?

When 20 or 30 of these nuts turn up to rallies, they will intimidate peaceful protestors into submission.

And why not then let neo Nazis take weapons to an NAACP meeting? Or let the members of the local Mosque walk around with AK's?

so its fine for christian hicks to do it but as soon as a muslim does it he'd be gunned down or arrested.

You people r sick. Guns r not necessary in this debate, it is undemocratic to intimidate, the Taliban are doing it in Afghanistan now and it is what u propose.

Grow up, this is a national shame, the world is watching and shaking their collective heads at the childish, threatening, moronic discourse taking place when all people want to do is help those that r sick see a doctor. Christian values? i dont think so.

Godless heathen European countries display greater chrsitian values than u whackos with regards to this matter.

Posted by: Chops2 | August 20, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

It is sad to note that Mr. Stromberg, with his learned position with the Post, has only a passing fancy with the Constitution of the United States of America. The rights granted to all Americans, including Mr. Stromberg, do not just go out the window because another American, the President, comes to your town. The NRA, like any lobbyist group (of which the Post pays many lobbyist groups I might add) is paid to uphold the rights (in this case, guaranteed by the US Constitution, such a pesky document) and wishes of it's constituents.

When we have RIGHTS we also have accompanying RESPONSIBILITIES. Given that people have the RIGHT to bear arms they also have the RESPONSIBLITY to exercise that right in a way that's not going to harm others or infinge on others rights (e.g. Freedom of Speech and Assembly). I grew up in a house that hunted, and rule one was -- THIS IS NOT A TOY - You ONLY bring out the gun if you intend to use it. The NRA spends a lot of time on training courses and teaching responsible gun ownership, and this is not an example of responsible use of a weapon. It's bullying by cowards, pure and simple. I'm ashamed that the NRA would continue to try to position themselves as being for responsible ownership and not point out that this is not RESPONSIBLE.

Posted by: DCLocal20 | August 20, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

"Rights come with Responsibilities. Just because you have the "right" to do something doesn't mean you can act like an irresponsible lunatic in doing it."

Posted by: thrh

I agree wholeheartedly. To the letter.

But does that go for the alleged "right" to health care, too?

I posit that ramming a 1000+ page bill in front of people, not letting them read it, and telling them they must approve it for their own good is irresponsible lunacy.

The person's gun may have killed people, which would certainly be tragic and avoidable, but (in a very cold analysis) would be mitigated to an extent by hospitals and courts. I'm not defending those that brought weapons. It was a poor choice on their part.

However... what's the mitigation to an unread bill that gets passed from political threats that could hurt people and cost even more money? "Oh darn?" "My bad?" Change is not always positive. It takes time, care, and consideration to create the most favorable conditions for positive change.

If health care is a right, our congress has a responsibility to provide the best plan they can to the citizens, with all points considered, including costs to the people using the service.

Posted by: dgw1091 | August 20, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I believe one important point that these citizens are trying to make is that there is nothing crazy about safely and legally carrying a firearm anywhere. Besides the exercise of a constitutional right, carrying a firearm legally in a public place is a statement against the bigotry that brands gun owners as fringe and even deviant members of society. It's similar in many ways to gay couples making sure they are seen kissing or embracing in public places, to drive home the point that what they are doing is, and should be seen as, a normal part of social life. Or blacks insisting on sitting at the front of the bus or at a lunch counter. Although the latter case was an exercise in (much needed) civil disobedience, whereas in the case of the gun-toting citizens in question, there was no law or ordinance prohibiting what they were doing. I'm appalled at your narrow-mindedness and bigotry. Further, as an Eagle Scout myself, I cringe at your lame attempt to establish credibility by referring to yourself as one.

Posted by: Gubbio | August 20, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

"Gun owners have killed more innocent Americans than the Muslim fanatics did on 9/11." I'm not sure where this statistic comes from, or what it's trying to convey, but under the same logic, swimming pool owners have killed more innocent Americans than law-abiding gun owners and terrorists combined. So have licensed drivers, many times over. What does this say about swimming pools and cars?

Posted by: Gubbio | August 20, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

The "intimidation" you folks are braying about exists only in your own fearful minds, which you then project onto the gun owners.

You can't understand why anyone would carry a gun, so your imagination takes off: "They're gonna shoot the President! They're gonna shoot me! They're gonna shoot shoot shoot OGodOGodOGodOGod!!!"

It's a personal problem, and thus no concern of mine.

Posted by: EnjoyEverySandwich | August 20, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

This is insane, if you went near any other elected official, from dog catcher on up, with an automatic weapon you'd be assuming the position so fast your revolver would spin. Isn't there a change for 'Menacing'? Surely carrying a gun to a political event would fall into that category.

Posted by: elkofan | August 20, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

So far the only people becoming assaultive inside the rooms where the 'town hall meetings' are being held are SEIU thugs. They are the hooligans that threaten our Rights.

Posted by: sperrico | August 20, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

rfc2307,

Hey kid

Try pulling the same stunt with any president anywhere in the world, you know, playing tough guy with a gun strapped to your tight while standing close by and you will see what happens to you:

1)Security services will get you and have your nuts/toe nails/eyes, etc in a jar.

2) They will kill you right on the spot for being a potential threat to a head of state.

Be thankful you live in a permissive society like ours where any idiot (left or right, they are the same anyway), can get away with pretty much anything.

Posted by: eaglestrk01 | August 20, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I'm a liberal and a gun owner. I am not a member of the NRA, but have friends who are, and all of us will tell you that these people carrying guns to these protests are simply crazy, nuts who think they are going to start some sort of revolution where they can implement their version of a Aryan state. These ARE NOT typical NRA members, nor are they typical of gun owners and the Post's attempts to tie us with them is rather like the old right wing nonsense attempts to tie liberals with Mao and Stalin. We have nothing to do with them; they are alien to everything we believe and stand for.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | August 20, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I am completely at a loss as to why weapons were allowed at an event where President Obama attended. Seriously, does anyone think this could have happened when George W. Bush was President? Not only is it extremely dangerous, but it shows a complete disdain for him and the office he holds. This craziness has got to stop.

Posted by: Scheherazade7 | August 20, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

As a gun owner myself, I am appalled by this show of force by some folks at these Townhalls. And show of force it is. The last president to forcibly remove legally owned guns from citizens was George W. Bush after Katrina and Rita. So the idea that these people think Obama is "gonna take my gun away" is ludicrous. For these people, it's all about saying, "Do it my way or I'll kill you." And that, my friends, is not the way a democracy works, is it?

Posted by: luckytn | August 20, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I'd say someone in the crowd should file assault charges against the folks carrying weapons. Legally, a person is guilty of assault if they threaten the use of force and put someone in fear of being harmed. I think there is a good case to be made that if you were opposed of a group of angry people with guns carrying signs saying "death to...", you would be in considerable fear. After all, that's what they were doing, intimidating the opposition. Tack on to it a charge of reckless endangerment. Again, a loaded assault rifle in a crowd of angry people. From the pictures, it looks as though one of the gun was slung over the owner's shoulder. Someone could have easily run up behind him and pulled the trigger, let alone a whole host of other potential accidents. That beyond reckless and the Second Amendment does not allow for the criminal use of firearms.

Posted by: AOB82 | August 20, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

"The "intimidation" you folks are braying about exists only in your own fearful minds, which you then project onto the gun owners.

You can't understand why anyone would carry a gun, so your imagination takes off: "They're gonna shoot the President! They're gonna shoot me! They're gonna shoot shoot shoot OGodOGodOGodOGod!!!"

It's a personal problem, and thus no concern of mine."


Actually, I think that the objection isn't to the "ooh - they could hurt someone" as much as it is that it's obvious that the reason a person would show up with a gun is to intimidate with threat of leathal force. A gun is a leathal weapon, and everyone knows it. If a person shows up at your front door with a gun does that say "Hey neighbor, let's be pals -- come on by my place for dinner sometime"? Not really. If they just wanted to say hi and invite you to dinner they wouldn't bring a gun along (unless you live in Afghanistan).

To try to excuse this by saying "Even though they're being intimidating doesn't mean that they intend to intimidate" is delsuional. They mean to intimidate.

Posted by: DCLocal20 | August 20, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

These fringe-nuts & the other nuts in the NRA will learn it the hard way...like some one in the crowd snatch it & shoot the owner, or their children playing with the gun & accidentally shooting the sibling etc.

Posted by: sarvenk63 | August 20, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

AOB82, your ignorance of the law is only exceeded by your ignorance of guns. That's not the law, the gun was properly carried, and for your homework, please learn how a gun is fired and what, including safety mechanisms, prevents it from doing same.

Posted by: ggreenbaum | August 20, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

A benign-looking young couple showed up at a George Bush event with tee shirts that the Bush people didn't like, and they were promptly arrested.

Yet these thugs show up dangerously displaying guns that could kill innocent children, and the GOP, the NRA, and Charles Grassley thinks it's just fine. Never mind their crocodile tears about granny having her plug pulled -- better to allow granny to get shot at a town hall meeting, if we can judge by the their total lack of outrage. I have no respect for any GOP leader who refuses to declare outrage about this.

You say these "citizens bearing arms" are not thugs? Anyone is a thug and bully who uses such tactics. If the shoe were on the other foot, they'd have been tossed into the court system by Bush. Bush was scared of tee shirts, remember?

Posted by: cturtle1 | August 20, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

The NRA is just as fearful of zealous gun owners as anyone else. Look what happened to Jim Zumbo for saying assault rifles have no place in hunting. I don't blame the NRA for being cowardly in the face of this crowd.

Posted by: webg | August 20, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

MacGuyver never used guns, and look at everything he got done.

But on a more serious note- It is too bad that there were numerous caveats and common sense straighteners put on the first amendment, while the second was left so ambiguous that we still debate whether it applies only to militias or to private citizens. So while we don't get to yell 'fire' in a crowded theater, we do get to bring loaded assault rifles to public protests already wrought with political tension. I just don't want to hear these yahoos flip out when one of their brethren gets popped by a police officer, secret service, or even correspondingly armed private citizen. That is what happens to people who play with guns.

Posted by: sethmalaguerra | August 20, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

NRA: Nation of Rednecks Aquiver with fear

Posted by: blackmask | August 20, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

NRA = Nuts Running Amok
NRA = Never a Reasonable Argument
NRA = Negative Reasoning Abounds
You get the idea.

Posted by: weseustice | August 20, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

"The NRA is just as fearful of zealous gun owners as anyone else. Look what happened to Jim Zumbo for saying assault rifles have no place in hunting. I don't blame the NRA for being cowardly in the face of this crowd."

I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for this situation, though. If you spend your time whipping these folks up into a frenzy you can't be surprised when they start to act as though you've whipped them up into a frenzy.

If you spill the milk you should grab a towel and wipe it up.

Posted by: DCLocal20 | August 20, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

As an NRA member, I feel everyone should be allowed to bring their guns to schools, sporting events, church services, airports, libraries, and workplaces. The NRA lobbyists recently pressured the Senate to pass a measure to allow concealed guns in National Parks.
Why not allow people to arm themselves anywhere else they go?

I also believe all law abiding citizens age 21 or over should be provided a gun with ammo by the Government free of charge. As the NRA has proven, more guns = less crime and the fact is that every adult cannot always afford to buy a gun. Forget about a waiting period -- upon request, just issue a loaded gun when someone turns 21.

In my case, I have been in trouble with the law several times over the past 3 years (I have a bad temper)
so I have been having difficulty buying a weapon at the local gun store. If I had gotten one from the Government 10 years ago when I turned 21, I would have been well armed to defend myself all those years
and probably would have blown away a few criminals and terrorists like the low-life who dented my car last month. Thanks to the support of the NRA, I was able to buy .44 Magnum Colt and AK-47 assault rifle at a Gun Show recently without any background check. Actually, I brought a few extra guns and rifles to sell to my
buddies who also have had problems with the law. Let's make sure we keep supporting the NRA's opposition to banning
assault rifles, its opposition to background checks by unlicensed dealers, and its opposition to limiting
the number of weapons that can be purchased at the same time so that good folks like me can provide plenty of
powerful guns to our friends who, in turn, can sell them "South of the Border" or in inner cities and make some nice money on the side!! And, thank God, there is the Tiahrt Amendment sponsored by the NRA
that makes it difficult for law enforcement to trace the source of firearms brought and sold.

Finally, how about we get the law changed and make machine guns and granade launchers available to the public!!
After all, terrorists and criminals are able to obtain such weapons so why can't a "good old boy" like me have the same fire power to defend myself?
Does not the 2nd Admendment give us the right to be as equally armed as our adversaries? NRA -- are you listening??

(P.S. At the NRA Annual Convention, I was talking to someone who works at the NRA as an accountant. He told me that
gun show promoters, gun manufacturers and gun shop owners are the biggest contributors to the NRA and, without them, theorganization could not afford to pay LaPierre and Cox the multi-million compensation packages they receive. I think every penny these wealthy, gun-loving guys get paid is well deserved!!)

Posted by: dh110713 | August 20, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

you obviously missed all the youtube vids of SEIU and ACORN goons assaulting people.

Posted by: millionea7 | August 20, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

As I see it, these armed citizens WERE utilizing their guns in a "lawful, effective, responsible and above all safe" manner. They were breaking no law by exercising their rights as American citizens; they were effective in that their presence gave the anti-gun people (and the US government) a bad case of soiled underwear; they were responsible and safe in that they maintained control of their guns and their tempers (the only kind of "gun control" I believe in, BTW). So what's the big deal, Mr. Stromberg?!?

I might add that I'm not an NRA member; I'm a former conservative Republican-turned-libertarian, and I quit the NRA because they're just shills for the Repubs.

“The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: Paul_GA | August 20, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

you obviously missed all the youtube vids of SEIU and ACORN goons assaulting people.

Posted by: millionea7
--------------------------------------------------------
Yeah, the gun toters should have shot those union guys.

Posted by: LifeBeforePrinciple | August 20, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

The "intimidation" you folks are braying about exists only in your own fearful minds, which you then project onto the gun owners.
You can't understand why anyone would carry a gun, so your imagination takes off: "They're gonna shoot the President! They're gonna shoot me! They're gonna shoot shoot shoot OGodOGodOGodOGod!!!"
It's a personal problem, and thus no concern of mine.

Posted by: EnjoyEverySandwich
----------------------------------------------------------------------

You have that backwards, Ms. Sandwich - it's a personal problem of yours that prompts you to carry a gun.

Posted by: LifeBeforePrinciple | August 20, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I have carried a gun to hunt pheasants and I have carried a gun as a member of the "Armed" Forces of the United States. Guns are just tools. I see no reason to carry one unless you plan on shooting something you intend to eat or if you are doing your job to defend the country or keep the peace. The NRA has turned the gun into a symbol and there is just something weird about the power games the NRA plays. When responsibly handled, a gun is just a tool and I would no sooner take a gun to a public meeting than a power saw. The NRA stopped being about "responsible" gun ownership years ago and now they seem to be just another lunatic fringe lobbying organization. As a responsible gun owner I want nothing to do with them.

Posted by: Ralph-FL | August 20, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

How long until some other nutjob yells


""""""" GUN ******

and the shots start ringing out and people end up dead.

Posted by: kare1 | August 20, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

You have that backwards, Ms. Sandwich - it's a personal problem of yours that prompts you to carry a gun.
*************************************************

Sir or Madam, you are mistaken. There is nothing abnormal about carrying a gun for self-defense. It being something you wouldn't do does not make it abnormal.

On the other hand, having hysterical fits at the sight of a few* people exercising their rights is a problem. I said it to those Repubs who flipped out over the anti-war protests (in which I participated) and I say it now to the Dems.

*Just how many people with guns are we talking about here? From what I've seen to say "a handful" would be exaggeration.

Posted by: EnjoyEverySandwich | August 20, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

The "intimidation" you folks are braying about exists only in your own fearful minds, which you then project onto the gun owners.

You can't understand why anyone would carry a gun, so your imagination takes off: "They're gonna shoot the President! They're gonna shoot me! They're gonna shoot shoot shoot OGodOGodOGodOGod!!!"

It's a personal problem, and thus no concern of mine.

Posted by: EnjoyEverySandwich | August 20, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

________________________________________

You idjot - there are some people out there who are genuinely afraid of people walking around with guns.

People like myself who are vitims of violent crimes, having been held at gunpoint while being raped.

YOU THINK I SHOULD FEEL COMFORTABLE GOING AROUND A BUNCH OF PEOPLE HOLDING ASSAULT RIFLES.
Oh that is right - I HAVE NO RIGHTS I YOUR LITTLE HATE FILLED I CAN DO WHAT I WANT SCREW HOW ANYONE ELSE FEELS>

Posted by: kare1 | August 20, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

This article is a calculated diversion to present some appearance of balance as the WaPo has accepted the insurance industry money and agreed to use the paper as a mouthpiece to kill the public option. Columnists and Editorial Board for sale at WaPo. Confirms what we have always known about the journalistic character.

Posted by: jhadv | August 20, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Stromberg, you're an idiot. This is not the NRAs problem, it's the Secret Service's. And they didn't seem to have a problem with it but you failed to mention that.

Posted by: Rameses | August 20, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

You idjot - there are some people out there who are genuinely afraid of people walking around with guns.

People like myself who are vitims of violent crimes, having been held at gunpoint while being raped.

YOU THINK I SHOULD FEEL COMFORTABLE GOING AROUND A BUNCH OF PEOPLE HOLDING ASSAULT RIFLES.
Oh that is right - I HAVE NO RIGHTS I YOUR LITTLE HATE FILLED I CAN DO WHAT I WANT SCREW HOW ANYONE ELSE FEELS>
************************************************

I'm sorry for what happened to you, but I didn't do it. I am not obliged to surrender my rights because of what some criminal did.

My point stands. If you cannot distinguish between people exercising a right and violent criminals infringing on your rights, then yes you have a problem. A legitimate problem that I hope you work out; but not one that I will take the hit for.

Posted by: EnjoyEverySandwich | August 20, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Here in Mexico, the Drug Cartels I launder money for and I love the NRA. Guns are illegal in dirty socialist Mexico so it's very easy for my Mexican friends in the North to pay a few gringos to pick up some semi-automatic weapons and ammunition at gun shows. With a kit we also buy in America we can convert these to automatic weapons very easily. Without the NRA paying off politicians to allow unregistered gun sales at gun shows, we would have to go to all the trouble of spending more money offshore or in Central and South America for inferior Chinese or Russian weapons and smuggling them into Mexico. The NRA makes it easier to get better guns cheaper and closer to where we need them. God bless the NRA for their help. We know most of the same American conservatives who support the NRA also oppose legalization of marijuana so we plan to be in business a long, long time. Gracias NRA! Dios bendiga Sarah Palin!

Posted by: coloradodog | August 20, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Please, everyone freaking out calm down. The president and the Secret Service didn't object to it, so why should the NRA?

All of you hoplophobics (irrational fear of weapons) need to get some help or grow up. Would you expect me to not fully exercise my First Amendment rights within the law because someone might be offended or be intimidated? Please, give me a break.

Posted by: tjtackleberry | August 20, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Had anyone packed heat in the vicinity of the Bush Boy or Dick Cheney, they would have been arrested on the spot, whether the state in which they were allowed people to carry guns overtly.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | August 20, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the Founders intended for people to "bear arms" within shooting distance of their elected leaders. They probably would have thought this a common-sense thing that didn't need to be in the Constitution-- who needs to be told something so damn obvious?

But no, we have a gun cult in this country that has made a fetish out of owning the biggest, loudest, shootin'est firearms the world can produce. They're no different from any group of fanatics, zealots or crazies, except that they're carrying lots of firepower and seem rabid enough to use it.

They are not "participating" in a "debate"--they are trying to squelch a political side that they hate and fear through raw intimidation. This is not free speech; it is the suppression of free speech.

As such, anyone carrying weapons into a public assembly-- right to carry or not-- should be ejected immediately. Guns and high emotions do not mix. One day, we will see the sad end result of this, but it'll be damned hard to say "I told you so" after.

Posted by: dbitt | August 20, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

First of all, many (most?) of you are operating under a misconception. There is no such thing as an assault rifle. Mostly because there is no definition of such a thing that couldn't be applied to any rifle.

Second, there is a difference between a semi-automatic weapon, and a fully automatic weapon. Automatics (aka machine guns) you pull the trigger and hold it and you get a continuous stream of bullets fired from the gun until you're out of ammo or the barrel melts. Fully automatic weapons require BATF permits and they don't just hand those out to gang members, mafia or neo-nazi extremists. Semi-automatics, no matter what they look like, require a complete trigger pull and release to fire each and every bullet.

Third, legally bringing a weapon to a public meeting where the intent is to illustrate that it can be done legally, and safely, is not a threat. Neither is just carrying it in a holster strapped to your belt or leg. And most of you will never know how many people are carrying on concealed! As for the President's meetings, nobody (other than the cops and SS) brought a firearm TO his meetings, much less into a meeting. They were all safely corralled in sites adjacent to the meeting site.

There's no such thing as a dangerous weapon, only dangerous people. I can do way more damage, death, and destruction with my bare hands, imagination, whatever is at hand, and a little time, than someone with a firearm ever could.

Posted by: mhoust | August 20, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Please, everyone freaking out calm down. The president and the Secret Service didn't object to it, so why should the NRA?

All of you hoplophobics (irrational fear of weapons) need to get some help or grow up. Would you expect me to not fully exercise my First Amendment rights within the law because someone might be offended or be intimidated? Please, give me a break.

Posted by: tjtackleberry
*****************
Do you understand that the rights in the Bill of Rights are not unlimited? You do not have the right to scream "Fire!" in a crowded theater. You do not have the right to make a point in an argument while waving a gun in someone's face.

Hoplophobia is an irrational fear. Name me anything *at all* irrational in citing our nation's long and unhappy history where guns and political argument intersect. If you can do that, I won't consider you an irrational gun nut.

Posted by: dbitt | August 20, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

There's no such thing as a dangerous weapon, only dangerous people. I can do way more damage, death, and destruction with my bare hands, imagination, whatever is at hand, and a little time, than someone with a firearm ever could.


Posted by: mhoust
*************
That's very reassuring.
Care to point out the "dangerous people" before they can use the weapons they are bringing to these events?
I don't suppose a bullet cares whether it is in an adjacent area or not, by the way...

Posted by: dbitt | August 20, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

The second amendment was written at a time when families customarily owned a gun for hunting and defending their homes. It was also a time with no standing army, and so the need for a "well regulated militia," was material. It isn't any longer. Ergo, the second amendment protects the rights of the people to have customary guns to provide food for their families, provide for the defense of their homes and families, and permits them to join a well regulated militia in times of national need. If the government should become the enemy and you have to defend your home, property or family from them, this meets that need. Shotgun, rifle, ok....automatic weapons not ok. Handguns, questionable. Seems perfectly clear to me!

Posted by: kshell1 | August 20, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Nobody seems to know much truth about the NRA. This group has put their stamp of approval on every national and most state gun control laws so only an idiot would be saying that they are lunitic fringe. Of course, if approving all those gun control laws makes somebody a lunatic then who is that person in the mirror?

At 4.5 million members, they are one of the largest volunteer membership group in the country. The Brady Bunch has about 50,000 members, mostly carried over from Handgun Control Inc. The numbers have to mean something.

Why do some people fear simple tools? Who knows. Mostly, I think they fear their own deep-seated passions to do harm to others and transfer that desire to everyone else, especially those that are responsible gun owners. So if you fear firearms, ask that person in the mirror why, you'll find the answers deep in him/her/it.

Posted by: glockgemini | August 20, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the Founders intended for people to "bear arms" within shooting distance of their elected leaders. They probably would have thought this a common-sense thing that didn't need to be in the Constitution-- who needs to be told something so damn obvious?"
_______________________
The writer said it all, rather common sense! I would have more respect for the NRA if it exercised "common sense" but it never has, it is all about fear and hate. We are experiencing the downward spiral of the American experiment in democracy! Mr. Stromberg is correct, but few will see the truth!

Posted by: kemcb | August 20, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Nathanfriendly lists all the ways that Bush violated the Constitution. Then he implies that anyone here who would criticize a legal gun-toter or the NRA is just as "tyrannical". Bulls**t.

I own guns and believe in the second amendment, but I also believe in the first amendment. Supporting the right to bear arms doesn't mean I have to defend the actions of every whackjob who carries them. If I believe they are exercising their rights irresponsibly, by trying to spread fear and intimidation, it is my right to say so.

And BTW, in order to be a tyrant, one must wield the reins of power. I hardly see how a journalist and some blog commenters could ever qualify as tyrants.

Posted by: julie18 | August 20, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

mhoust wrote:

"Fully automatic weapons require BATF permits and they don't just hand those out to gang members, mafia or neo-nazi extremists."

____________________________
They don't have to. Terrorists like the Mexican Drug Cartels can simply buy conversion kits:

The Drop In Auto Sear (DIAS) is a device that is adds an auto sear to an otherwise semi-automatic AR-15 so that when used with M-16 fire control parts including an M-16 carrier produces full auto fire. The DIAS is referred to as a "Drop In" as this piece can be added to an AR-15 without drilling a receiver for a traditional auto sear.

http://www.quarterbore.com/nfa/dias.html

Posted by: coloradodog | August 20, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

If the gun guys think health care meetings are great opportunities to exercise their right to carry, why don't they come to city council meetings armed?

Oh wait, they do. Check my handle.

I'm surprised they haven't decided to show up at playgrounds yet carrying M16s to prove their manliness. I should shut up and not give them ideas.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | August 20, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

As a Vet and a ex NRA member, all I can say is they do not live up to their charter.
Every member of the hunting club I belong to has resigned from the NRA as well. The NRA supports such unsupportable goals that this hunter say's NO MORE Kool Aid from them.

Posted by: nstein1 | August 20, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

These people ought to thank the President and the rest of us that they are alive. Had they done this in any other country, they would have been shot dead. I am positive they were targeted the whole time they were at the site. What stupidity is this, anyway?

To those who think it's cool (ie, constitutionally protected) to brandish a weapon at such an event: Think about it when you put all of us at risk by bringing guns to a presidential visit. You put me at risk too, and I am also a gun owner. But as far as I'm concerned, when you bring a gun to a presidential visit, you should expect to be killed if you even look suspicious. I would have NO sympathy for any of you if you were killed there.

Posted by: expat2MEX | August 20, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

@rfc2307 wrote:
"The rights granted to all Americans, including Mr. Stromberg, do not just go out the window because another American, the President, comes to your town."

did you miss the last 8 years where 'National Security' was trotted out to trump individual freedoms all over the place?

While I don't agree with the application of that principle by the previous Administration, the concept is sound. The security of the President does trump an individual's rights for the nation's security as a whole.

Posted by: rpixley220 | August 20, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

This country was founded by men who had the guts and the weapons to stand up to tyranny. Our freedom was won at the end of a gun. The dude in the pic is possibly the only real man to be seen on the WP web site in so long. God bless him!

Posted by: IMBILLY | August 20, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I was an NRA enthusiast for two decades, but I quit as EVEN PRESIDENT BUSH SR. QUIT, because in the 1990s the organization of sensible gun lore became dominated by juvenile minded survivalist nuts, like the Oklahoma Bomber!

Posted by: lufrank1 | August 20, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

You have that backwards, Ms. Sandwich - it's a personal problem of yours that prompts you to carry a gun.
*************************************************

Sir or Madam, you are mistaken. There is nothing abnormal about carrying a gun for self-defense. It being something you wouldn't do does not make it abnormal.
On the other hand, having hysterical fits at the sight of a few* people exercising their rights is a problem. I said it to those Repubs who flipped out over the anti-war protests (in which I participated) and I say it now to the Dems.
--------------------------------------------------------------

It takes courage to live in society unarmed. Most of society knows this and agrees to proceed to the future without being armed. It's the same thing with the military - it takes courage for a country to stop building more and bigger weapons. Obama understands that. Some citizens are unable to be that courageous.

Posted by: LifeBeforePrinciple | August 20, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I also have the right to jab a fork in my eye. I'm not going to do it though, because it's frickin dumb.

Posted by: stee | August 20, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

It is ironic that none of this would have been tolerated under our last Republican President.

Posted by: stee | August 20, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

And behold the GOP is reborn! Ladies and gentlemen, permit me to introduce the Grand NO Party!

This "new" reborn Party will say NO to any Obama administration policies and initiatives that benefit ordinary hard-working Americans.

It will say NO to any healthcare overhaul initiative that lowers healthcare cost and improves healthcare services for average Americans.

It will say NO to any policy that is intended to ameliorate the impact of mankind's activities on the global climate so that we ensure the survival of generations of living things (man, plants, etc.) on this earth.

But the Grand NO Party will say YES to reprobate persons who want to carry guns anywhere they desire (including on airplanes, in churches, at day care centers, in restaurants, at our kids’ kindergarten, elementary, middle and high schools, in universities, in nightclubs where booze is sold, at political forums, etc.).

It will also say YES to policies and initiatives that fatten the coffers of health insurance companies and the pockets of CEOs at the expense of average Americans.

It will say YES to the next group of neo-cons who decide to take this country to another needless but costly war.

And finally, the Grand NO Party will say YES (again) to Wall Street fat cats who engineered the near total collapse of not only the US economy but the entire global economy.

Posted by: erickaba | August 20, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mr Stromberg. Well said. These people are nutjobs, to be polite about it. It is a wonder that the Secret Service didn't shoot these idiots on sight.

Posted by: gjhinnova | August 20, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Brandishing a firearm without any lawful cause is a serious crime. Have people been arrested for brandishing (that is waving) a gun at the president? Perhaps I missed that.

I agree that it is wildly inappropriate for someone to come to a political rally displaying firearms for the purpose of intimidating others. Having said that, much of what Mr. Stromberg says and implies is off base. Gun owners are much more law-abiding than non gun-owners (see stats on crimes committed by people who have conceal and carry permits). So this notion that it is inherently dangerous for someone to carry a firearm on their person, or that people who choose to do so are crazy is silly. With all due respect to Mr. Stromberg's "Eagle Scout" training, an accidental discharge is all but impossible for someone who observes the three basic rules of gun safety. The only time modern firearms will discharge is when the trigger is pulled.

Also, to correct a point made by some of the comments. The D.C. v. Heller most definitely established an individual right to own firearms. It just hasn't been incorporated yet because the Court hasn't ruled on a state law. The Court has incorporated every significant right in the Constitution and it will when the time comes with the Second Amendment as well.

Posted by: mmcguire2004 | August 20, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

i am a gun owner and i believe in the right of the sane, law abiding american to own a gun if he wants. however, i came to the conclusion that the n.r.a. was run by whackjobs nearly a half century ago (i was in high school). then, it was gun registration which to me seemed sensible. the n.r.a. folks were convinced it was a commie plot. i never dreamed that the few rational gun control laws in existence would be ravaged as they have been, starting with the advent of the gipper. i suppose that even wyatt earp's ordnances (checking your guns) has been repealed (he must have been a pinko). the n.r.a. has successfully used the same tactics as have the religious fundamentalists: believe as we do or you're not a christian. its hogwash, twice over. one can be a christian and verily believe falwell and each of the last twenty or so of the presidents of the southern baptist convention to be ignoramuses, biblical and otherwise. likewise, one can be a gun owner and think the leadership of the n.r.a. to be delusional.

Posted by: jimfilyaw | August 20, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Let's see - where does it say that the right to carry arms is UNRESTRICTED. It does not - it simply states that the right exists - State and Federal governments have and continue to have the right to impose restrictions on the ownership and posssession of guns. The Supreme Court has continually upheld laws regarding restrictions, and in the recent D.C. case, simply found the restrictions overly broad to the extent that they did violate THEIR interpetation of the Second Amendment.

So stop saying that you have unrestricted access to firearms. you don't and never did.

Posted by: JohnDinHouston | August 20, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Well, McGuire, all you said is perhaps true, but certainly you can agree that the chances of something bad happening with a firearm increase exponentially when someone brings a firearm to a place where they have no need or business to bring one. No firearm, nothing untoward happens.

Posted by: JohnDinHouston | August 20, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Another part of this argument is assault weapons - oh by all means you need this for hunting (so you can rip the hide off anything rending it useless for food) or protection -- against those armed terrorists that live next door. There is a time and place for guns -- for protection or hunting and these guns and times don't qualify. And the NRA wonders why there is opposition? If they had any brains and policed themself perhaps I'd believe they aren't all nut jobs.

Posted by: Lemon7221 | August 20, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Well, I never said anyone does or should have unrestricted use of any form of weapon. What DC v. Heller does say that there is an individual right to own a handgun for the purpose of self-defense.

It is true that the right of the people to keep and bear arms is subject to regulation just like the freedom of speech is subject to regulation (e.g. libel and obscenity are not protected).

DC v. Heller is notable because it is actually the only U.S. Supreme Court to address the question of an individual right vs. collective right to own firearms directly. What the majority argued, I think correctly, is that the "right of the people" to keep and bear arms means the same thing as the "right of the people" mentioned in the First, Fourth, and Ninth Amendments. Does anyone care to argue that those protect "collective rights."

It do agree that firearms (and other weapons) have the potential to allow dangerous people to do great harm. But that's true of many different things. small arms technology hasn't advanced that significantly in the last 50 years.

America would be a relatively violent society even if there were NO firearms related crimes committed. At least in our society, those who wish to commit gun crimes must do so with the knowledge that they there is a decent chance they may face armed opposition from civilians. That's why home invasion burglaries are so scarce in the United States relative to our overall crime rate (or even compared to Europe).

So greater restrictions on guns would likely increase gun crime and not decrease it (see effect of British handgun ban in '90s).

Posted by: mmcguire2004 | August 20, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

"At least in our society, those who wish to commit gun crimes must do so with the knowledge that they there is a decent chance they may face armed opposition from civilians. That's why home invasion burglaries are so scarce in the United States relative to our overall crime rate (or even compared to Europe)."

Totally hypothetical - can't be proven, and you really think that criminals are that advanced of thinkers?

Posted by: JohnDinHouston | August 20, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

To mibrooks27:

Second amendment liberal? Heck, it's good to know there's some out there--I was afraid I might be the only one. I am an NRA member, but I admit that I had to hold my nose when I wrote out the check. Got an ACLU card too.

When my proud-to-be-conservative friends ask me why I espouse progressive views, I just tell them that the Army shaped a lot of my beliefs. That REALLY gets 'em!

Be respectful, responsible, love everybody, and fight for what's right!

Posted by: OwainOzymandiasBuck | August 20, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

It takes courage to live in society unarmed. Most of society knows this and agrees to proceed to the future without being armed. It's the same thing with the military - it takes courage for a country to stop building more and bigger weapons. Obama understands that. Some citizens are unable to be that courageous.
***************************************************

I take it, then, that in this spirit of courageous living you advocate that the police and other government agencies also be disarmed?

If so, that may be courage, or it may be blind faith in the law of averages. It will vary from person to person.

If not, then your so-called "courage" is a sham. It is most likely just blind faith that the government will protect you. Hey, you can believe whatever you like, but I'm not crazy just because I don't share your belief. And you're not morally superior just because you've hired someone else to carry your gun for you.

Posted by: EnjoyEverySandwich | August 20, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Maybe if the politicians truely cared about representing their voter's interests, there would be no need to worry about guns being carried by some in the crowd.

If you are afraid someone in the crowd who is carrying a gun, you need to ask yourself at least 5 times 'why' you are afraid to get at the root cause of why your are afraid:

1) Why am I afraid of that person with the gun?
- He may start shooting

2) Why would they start shooting?
- They don't like something or someone

3) Why don't they like something or someone?
- They feel their voice isn't being heard

4) Why do they feel like their voice isn't being heard?
- Their representative in Congress isn't supportive of their view

5) Why would the representative in Congress not be supportive of their view?
- (too many reasons to list).

You may come up with different answers and questions after the first question but that just shows you your view.

Posted by: ahashburn | August 20, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

fr chatard:

>...The guy at the protest was lawful, effective, responsible and safe. AND HE WASN'T THREATENING ANYBODY, YOU IGNORANT NAME-CALLER.<

FYI, he had a loaded GUN near the President, and should have been promptly arrested, and had his gun PERMANENTLY confiscated and melted down.

Posted by: Alex511 | August 20, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

N-R-A "Not Right for America" The Brady group should hold a news conference every time a loony shoots a bunch of innocent people. Explain the type of assualt weapon was used and detail how the NRA lobbied for its existence.

Posted by: Ithacaguy | August 20, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

"The Brady group should hold a news conference every time a loony shoots a bunch of innocent people. Explain the type of assualt weapon was used and detail how the NRA lobbied for its existence."

Posted by: Ithacaguy |

That's EXACTLY what they do! Every time there is a shooting of any kind, they dance in the blood of the victims...using it to push additional useles laws that will infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of the general public (but not the criminals).

Posted by: JimInHouston1 | August 20, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

"Totally hypothetical - can't be proven, and you really think that criminals are that advanced of thinkers?"

Posted by: JohnDinHouston

They're advanced enough to try to avoid "un-necessary" resistance. You should read "Freakonomics" to review how economic incentives (including risk to life and limb) affect criminal behavior.

Posted by: JimInHouston1 | August 20, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Here's a solution - everybody gets a gun paid for by the government - in the interest of a more civil discourse and because it's everybody's right to bear arms. This would of course include the poor toothless hillbillies in Apalachia, the poor disenfranchised people of color in the inner cities, all of the housewives of America who might get mugged on the way to little Johnny's soccer game, everyone who rides public transportation, buses, planes, trains and all of the illegal immigrants on American soil because, let's be fair now, the Constitution applies to everyone! How about that? And, the NRA gets to enlist millions of new members!! It doesn't get much better than this, America.

Posted by: sundog2 | August 20, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

We're a nation of 10-yr olds. Our national debate on health care has devolved into temper tantrums. Our debate on guns is even worse.

You can't even say "Maybe we sh.." before you get cut off and slammed for hating the Second Amendment. You're treated to a chorus of petulant NRA babies who scream like a kid losing his bottle.

Except that, just how nobody takes bottles from feeding babies, nobody is proposing that we take guns from gun owners.

All that most people ask for is some reasonable restraint on what you can and can't do with your gun.

I think there's a decent argument against carrying loaded assault rifles in public simply because you want to. There's a reasonable argument to be made that, since the Illinois legislature has not approved CCW permits, it should not be undercut by a federal law forces a state to honor other states' permits. If you buy a gun, the dealer should have to provide you a trigger lock; the decision to use it is entirely up to you. If you buy a gun at a gun show, you should be subject to the same background checks that you are at a gun dealer.

For the NRA to credibly say it supports responsible gun ownership, perhaps it should a stand against irresponsible gun owners: Those who don't lock their guns. Those who store loaded firearms in reach of children. Those who carry guns and make veiled threats against the president.

But no. In this country, if anyone even suggests that a gun owner behave responsibly, or that not everyone should be entitled to a firearm, it's tantamount to taking every American's gun(s) and melting them.

Grow up, people.

Posted by: smomin1 | August 20, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

"My point stands. If you cannot distinguish between people exercising a right and violent criminals infringing on your rights, then yes you have a problem."

Posted by: EnjoyEverySandwich

The problem is the NRA opposes any background checks to distinguish between violent criminals and the so-called "law abiding citizens." BTW, how many violent criminals were law-abiding citizens up to the point they shot someone? Lots.

And to the person with the NRA propaganda analogy that compares gun rights to pool owners' rights, get real. People choose to jump into pools. People don't choose to jump into bullets. It's called responsibility.

And the other wing nuts who compare cars to guns don't get it either. If we regulated guns 1/100th as much as we regulate the privilege to drive a car, tens of thousands of innocent people would not lose their lives by former law-abiding citizens.

Posted by: thuff7 | August 20, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I can't help wondering why those of us who oppose the NRA don't just all join the NRA and vote the right wing nuts out of the place. Then the NRA could return to its roots of teaching responsible hunting and marksmanship and end this insane lobbying for the right of anyone to own grenade launchers and shoulder-fired missiles.

Posted by: thuff7 | August 20, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

You must be joking. The NRA probably encouraged everyone to take the weapons. They are behind the money making tactic of telling everyone that Obama is going to take away every gun from everyone in the whole United States. There is nothing resonsible about the NRA, they are a right wing conservative political group. They hide behind the smokescreen of being some kind of hunting organization that helps teach responsible gun ownership. All they do is tell their members that any Democrat elected will automatically send the goverment to take away all their guns and they've been saying that for at least 25 years. I've never read or heard about the military going around collecting all guns from everyone in the United States. I guess they love the 2nd amendment except for the part that says "well regulated".

Posted by: rj2008 | August 20, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Did some commentator just say it was "immature" to bring an assault rifle to a public event?????

Posted by: dane1 | August 20, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

I can't speak for woman, but most guys raised in America are familiar with that old teenage ritual of the after school fight.

How many times have we all seen the same thing. One guy determined to fight the other guy, no matter what. If the other guy doesn't want to fight, so much the better, he's easier still to shove around.

When words don't get things going, we advance to the stiff arming the guy in the shoulder, or shoving him with both hands in his chest.

This things is GOING to happen. One way or the other, somebody's getting their ass kicked.

What happens when somebody decides to see how far they can shove the armed protester? How many shoves will it take to cause that weapon to leave it's holster?

It's only a matter of time.

Posted by: fredfawcett | August 20, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

The NRA is the biggest domestic terrorist group in America. Gun owners have killed more innocent Americans than the Muslim fanatics did on 9/11.

Now they are making it plain that they have no qualms about putting our President's life in danger. We are a nation of cowards for letting them get away with it.

Posted by: Trakker | August 19, 2009 7:34 PM
-----------------
Really? They have? I am a gun owner, I lawfully carry as often as practicable and I have yet to kill, or even shoot, anyone.

I have, however, stopped two robberies and one physical altercation between a very large man and his terrified, beaten and bloody wife, simply by taking my Kimber from her holster. All three perpetrators have since been arraigned, tried and convicted do to lawfully possessing and carrying a firearm, along with a knowledge of 'continuum of force'.

I'll bet you are too scared to even help your neighbor take out his trash...

Is it right for people to 'brandish' firearms for any reason? Absolutely not. Is the NRA-ILA going too far? Probably. But to brand all gun-owners, or even just those who carry regularly, as nut-jobs or wackos is equally ridiculous. The NRA as terrorists? Come on. It only continues to polarize those of us who know you are more wrong than the morons at NRA.

Posted by: thepearl0369 | August 20, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Next Saturday is "Bring an Assault Weapon To A High School Football Game" Day

Sponsored by the NRA and Timothy McVeigh

Posted by: averddy | August 20, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

These kind of idiot citizens, aided and abetted by the utterly irresponsible NRA, should be be arrested and their rights to ownership of any firearms curtailed. America, this Land of the Free and Home of the Brave exhibits a complete misunderstanding of the original intent of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which reads:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
This was a perfectly reasonable requirement back in the 18th century, and was enabled to protect a brand new nation of 13 original colonies, now called the United States, with no standing army or paid militia, from the marauding grasp of then superpowers like Spain, Great Britain and France, to name the leading culprits.
But for the United States in the 21st Century!? We tax ourselves to spend 25 times the combined total of all other 1st world nations on the military. The arguments that we need additionally to protect ourselves with assault rifles and the like is complete hogwash. The US would be far safer internally without these death weapons in the hands of so many morons.

Posted by: albion2 | August 20, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I can't speak for woman, but most guys raised in America are familiar with that old teenage ritual of the after school fight.

How many times have we all seen the same thing. One guy determined to fight the other guy, no matter what. If the other guy doesn't want to fight, so much the better, he's easier still to shove around.

When words don't get things going, we advance to the stiff arming the guy in the shoulder, or shoving him with both hands in his chest.

This things is GOING to happen. One way or the other, somebody's getting their ass kicked.

What happens when somebody decides to see how far they can shove the armed protester? How many shoves will it take to cause that weapon to leave it's holster?

It's only a matter of time.

Posted by: fredfawcett | August 20, 2009 8:31 PM
------------------
Sorry, Fred, that's battery my friend. Heads up for the knuckleheads who never outgrew school-yard bullying:
Don't shove the nerdy guy, or anyone else, cuz he might have a gun. He almost certainly has a better attorney.

Why would you ever want or need to start that kind of behavior anyway? To prove a point? If you batter someone, and they kill you, the jury probably won't side with you...

Posted by: thepearl0369 | August 20, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Full disclosure first: I live in a very safe state (West Virginia) which has (I assume and can vouch for anecdotally) a high proportion of hunters and gun enthusiasts. I own a gun (OK, so it's my muzzle-loading Enfield musket which I use for Civil War reenacting and which I DON'T use to fire real bullets, but my point remains--it's a real gun and I want to keep it) and I support the right of responsible persons to own guns. MY gun-owning neighbors are law-abiding, productive, and responsible citizens I'd bet you'd like to have as YOUR neighbors.

I am nevertheless persuaded that the NRA egregiously and inexcusably misrepresents the interests of sportsmen and other responsible gun owners. Instead it represents the views of gun manufacturers. Its leadership is a fount of demagoguery, deliberately spewing misinformation and bullying any politician who even mildly opposes any of its most ludicrous and dangerous positions.

Does the NRA do anything good? Sure. It sponsors gun safety and other positive programs. And I would respect it if it didn't constantly cry "wolf" about every suspected "assault" on gun-owners' rights. If the NRA was truly a sportman's organization and not a manufacturing lobby (like PHARMA), I would be inclined to consider its arguments regarding gun ownership and regulation (which I suspect would be more moderate than its current ones). But the NRA poisons its own well (with me, at least) when it engages in fear-mongering and gross misrepresentation.

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | August 20, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

The "gun as phallus" argument, which has a widespread following, is actually an urban myth. In the 1970s a researcher looked into this and concluded (I think I can quote her closely): "Gun ownership is so commonplace in the United States that to attribute severe psycho/sexual pathologies to such a large group, consisting of tens of millions of men and women, does not make sense unless we are willing to re-define what we mean by the word "normal"."

In other words, owning a gun is a perfectly normal choice and is not the result of some sort of sexual problem by its owner. In fact Freud suggested the opposite: that unreasoning fear of weapons was a sign of incomplete psycho-sexual development.

Posted by: boomcat | August 20, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

I hunt. I enjoy shooting. And I agree with Mr. Stromberg

Is anybody so naive to think the Secret Service is not armed and their agents don't have their weapons trained on the armed protesters?

Don't you see these armed rallies are nothing more than an undercover Mexican standoff? One loud noise and the whole crowd could die in a blaze of gunfire and crossfire. Agents shooting armed protesters. Armed protesters shooting back. Bullets and blood everywhere.

This is not about the right to bear arms. This is about the ability to use your brains.

The carnage alone is sickening, but that wouldn't be the end of it.

Anybody understand how many "Praise Allahs" would echo in the canyons of Afghanistan once that news hit Osama bin Laden's cave?

Anybody have any idea how much power and credibility the NRA would lose after a few of their members started a massacre that left scores and scores dead at a political rally?

The Democrats already own the White House, House and Senate.

This won't be like the Kennedy assassination. This time our Vice-President is not a gun owner from Texas. He's a liberal from Delaware.

President Obama becomes Saint Obama.

Three months after that massacre, you'll have President Joe Biden, Vice-President Hillary Clinton, Speaker Pelosi, Ted Kennedy and Sarah and James Brady signing the amendment to the Constitution revoking the second amendment to the Constitution.

End Game.

What are they? Nuts?

Posted by: colonelpanic | August 20, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

We need and ANTI Lobbying Bills that disolves organizations like the NRA.

For example if a Lobbying Group gets money to influence our Leadership then and equal amount should be sent to defend against them.

If they only have $1000 to spend then the lobbying group can only influence with $1000..

That should level the field


Fei Hu

Posted by: Fei_Hu | August 20, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

What if a guy armed with an assault rifle stood at the entrance of the NRA with a sign saying "death to gun lobbyists"? Would the NRA and its gunfans applaud his right to keep and bear arms (and his right to free speech)? No, they'd call the police and have him arrested for trespassing.

Posted by: rodgersd1 | August 21, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

While I agree it is in poor tasee for anyone to use a gun as a political symbol at a demonstration, try to recognize that it is, after all, a political statement and not a threat of violence. For that, you might want to talk to the white house, who called out the SEIU union goons to go to town hall meetings and "hit back twice as hard" After watching a Black conservative get beat up on camera at a St Louis town hall meeting, maybe the Black man carrying an AR15 outside Obama's town hall meeting in Arizona felt like he needed to be able to defend himself against the goon squad called out by his own government. I find it interesting that you and MSNBC think that those carrying guns at a town hall are displaying racist tendencys when the man carrying the assult rifle was black, and unabashedly conservative in viewpoint when interviewed on camera. Of course MSNBC heavily edited the video so you can't determine the man's race, and then commented while the video was running that "white men bringing guns to town halls was racist. While I think you fell for the ruse, that was their intent. Why can't the left, including MSNBC, actually try to sell their agenda rather than spending all their effort, and video editing expertice, trying to demonize their opposition and creat a race war for ratings? See the original, and MSNBC's edited vnewscast @ http://pajamasmedia.com/rogerkimball/2009/08/20/notes-from-the-post-racial-presidency/

Posted by: hdc77494 | August 21, 2009 3:23 AM | Report abuse

"Is it any wonder people all around the world see coverage of these events and conclude that Americans are unstable maniacs?"

You wouldn't want people to be misled, would you?

Posted by: observer100 | August 21, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Lets not make mention of the fact that (no thanks to msnbc who lie like dogs) that the main guy toting a gun over his shoulder and a pistol was BLACK! Not every one was an NRA white guy. Black or white,( Many friends who are BLACK here in the midwest feel the same way!) there are many of us on both sides of the political spectrum who believe that the ownership of guns is the ONLY way we aren't subject to the tyranny of radical nutjobs currently holding our country hostage, yes that means the current (lack of) administration. It's about the power and money folks, wake up!

Posted by: bigbrothercfg | August 21, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Living out in the countryside, we have a Belgian Malinois as our deterent, with a shotgun backup, plus a rifle for the occasional rabid skunk/racoon. Neither have been fired except for target practice in their 30 years. I would never dream of taking either the dog or a gun into a crowd that could get heated. When it comes to the grandchildren visiting, I only worry about the guns. That line "Guns don't kill, people do" is a distortion of reality. Why one of our neighbors tried to shoot another neighbor's dog that had come into his yard and was barking one night instead of calling the people (he knew whose dog) is beyond polite society, not to mention dangerous (our horses were nearby). But the gun, unlike something like a knife, seems to separate people holding it from the reality of what it could do or lead to.
I just visited the NRA site and of course there is no opinion/position on this insanity of gun toting to crowded political events. They are more concerned about things like school budget cuts that eliminate funding to a HS rifle team, who cares about the cuts in teachers or arts programs.

Posted by: gearnoise | August 21, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Need we mention that the gentleman with the AR-15 was an African-American gentleman exercising his 2nd Amendment right? Was he protesting the "first African American president," as Stromberg alludes? Was he one of the Right-Wing extremists described in Homeland Security's highly critized and ill-conceived publication? Who was he harming? Who was he disturbing? The only people who he disturbed were those deluded souls who espouse the rationale of prior restraint and would disarm law-abiding citizens because in their world something might happen because all gun owners are "nuts". I presume these people would just as quickly deprive you of your right to free speech because someone might say something that would start a fight, or your right to freedom of assembly because a crowd might turn unruly. Please, get over yourselves. If you are not enclined to exercise any of your rights, that is your option, but do not deny others their rights. Just because the president or some dignitary is nearby is not a reason to curtail your constitutional rights. Rather it is a reason to allow a greater expression of your rights and should be endorsed by our government rather than restricted. Stromberg is wrong to deny American citizens their right to protest and exhibit their frustration with the policies of any administration they disagree with. As long as they peacefully exercise their rights, they should be allowed to do so unmolested.

Posted by: bluedog_IQT | August 21, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't bring a water bottle through airport security. I couldn't take an umbrella to ann outdoor concert.

But, depending on location, I could take a loaded gun to a crowded townhall meeting with the president.

Thanks to the NRA and their ilk, we are quickly losing our way. This is completely ridiculous.

Posted by: chi-town | August 21, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I think that Obama has only himself to blame for this one:
From an August 7th news report:

"Barack Obama told a crowd of supporters in Philadelphia back in 2008, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” He added, “That’s the Chicago way.”
Last night in St. Louis, Missouri, a local conservative found out firsthand about the “Chicago way.” Kenneth Gladney, a black conservative from the city, was handing out “Don’t Tread On Me” flags after a Russ Carnahan town hall meeting on health care in Mehlville. This didn’t go over well with the Obama supporters and union thugs who attended the meeting. They punched him in the face, kicked him in the head, and stomped on him on the pavement."

I wonder if the gun-carrying is to let the goon squad know that they will not be shut up or beat up when they protest. I didn't see any guns appearing at rallies until we started seeing protesters being physically attacked.

Posted by: mcpenguin5 | August 21, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Reaction to the presence of armed U.S. citizens for no other reason than to test their second amendment rights at an event that the President of the United States is about to speak at is outragous. That is we should be outraged at the people who would commit such an act. To openly carry firearms to a political rally is intimidation to many people. Guns and politics do not belong together at all in a civilized country like the United States who has lost three Presidents to assassins bullets with many more shot at and Reagan hit and wounded worse than the public ever knew. The people who commit these acts endanger their own right to bear arms as progressives and independents who would never think to rally the people to change gun laws could well be motivated to do so by people who would show up at political events with guns. But then again that would be assuming that gun owners choose to be rational and mature people and participate in government the way your suppose to under the first amendment freedom of speech, press, assembly, petition but intimidation is not guareenteed under any amendment.

thomas mcmahon
millis ma
tommic856@verizon.net

Posted by: tommic856 | August 21, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm a proud gun owner, NRA member, Federal Firearms Licensee and democrat. I don't understand why anyone needs to bring a firearm to a political rally, town hall or public protest. I'm not into concealed carry, but I've nothing against people who want to carry. I just don't think that anyone is helping anything by bringing firepower to these events. It's a big no-no to handle firearms when you're angry or depressed or drunk or sad. Strong emotions and firearms just don't mix. If you're shouting and yelling and accusing your neighbors of being communists or nazis, then I think your emotions are riding a little hot, and good judgment should prevail upon you to leave the heat at home.

Apart from that, it appeared that most of the people who were carrying were espousing conservative points of view. Maybe they feel threatened, or someone told them that there was a threat, and they wanted to be prepared for that threat. It's normal to want to protect yourself if you're scared, and that fear should be of imminent bodily harm. What chance of imminent bodily harm were these people expecting at a presidential or congressional town hall meeting? My guess is none.

My theory is that the people who carried guns did so to strike fear in their neighbors, or at least to demonstrate their immediate ability to harm others that disagree with them. I think that kind of demonstration is counterproductive to dialogue, and hence I don't think they wanted to have a conversation. The goal was to intimidate. Unfortunately, the only way to meet intimidation is by demonstrating bravery. Do not be frightened by these people. If they discharge these weapons, they will be in big trouble (or dead) and their cause will lose any semblance of legitimacy.

Posted by: ninjagin | August 21, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it ironic that all these big tough game hunting NRA member don't have enough guts to speak out against carrying firearms to a meeting where the President is? Yet they will be the first ones to clamor for a hunting season when there are over 50, or 100 of some species in a certain area like maybe Montana. Or maybe there are over 2000 of some species worldwide. And 75% of the whole population can't see the absurdity of the way a lot of our own species views wildlife and the environment. Like when all the streams fill up with mercury and you are warned to not eat the fish or only one a month.

Posted by: repudar711 | August 22, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

C'mon folks. The Secret Service has yet to see any of this as a problem. What makes all of you think you have a better handle on it than they do?

Posted by: Star_King | August 24, 2009 3:09 AM | Report abuse

Nicely written article - logic is very clear and concise. My big concern is that about a few years ago the Secret Service was cited for violations regarding racial bias - (See NY Times June 2, 2000 among others). Is it possible they haven't yet eradicated prejudice from their organziaiotn? If that is so then how can they adequately protect our African American President and his family. And if Mr. Fiegle (sic) from Colorado was arrested just for speaking to Mr Cheney in 2005 what I see is a double standard. The Secret Service needs to DO IT'S JOB - if someone insists on bringing a gun to a political rally they should do so sitting in the back of a police van until the rally is done.

Posted by: u028021 | August 24, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I am a lifetime member of the NRA and a consistent supporter of our Second Amendment rights. Blatantly displaying a firearm near a President is a really irresonsible thing to do for a variety of reasons. For one, the Secret Service will certainly notice and this takes their attention away from a potential serious threat. It would be a much better solution for the concealed carry holders to be able to retain their weapons, but they should be required to be concealed.

Unfortunately, if someone is going to try to kill the President or anyone else for that matter, a law will not prevent it. Criminals, by definition, break laws and the honest people abide by them.

Posted by: victor615 | August 26, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

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