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The brief history of a gun rally crasher

"Treason! Treason!"

The attendees of the Second Amendment March who'd gathered near a fence where media had set up cameras spun their heads around to look at the woman shouting those words, threatening to interrupt a speech by Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack. (Moments earlier, Mack bragged that he was the "only person to sue Bill Clinton for non-sexual reasons.") The shouter was Kathryn Brookins, a newsletter editor from Massachusetts who interrupted walking her two hunting dogs to wander over and yell at the gun rights gathering.

"Treason!" she yelled. "You people are traitors! There's no threat to the second amendment!"

Brookins managed to rouse a portion of the small crowd that had gathered for the rally. (To see how small, note the picture above.) As she began to walk away, still yelling, protesters sat up on the grass and heckled her.

"Freedom!"

"You should be over at the White House!"

"Go home!"

The noise drew in reporters almost immediately, and the reporter that got closest was with NRAnews. Holding a microphone in Brookins's face as a small crowd held up their video cameras, he peppered her with questions ("What's the punishment for treason?") as it became clear that she was angry, but not interested in debate. A combative activist held up his Powershot camera and got the best of her.

"I've been to places like China where, you know what, people like you are shot for what you're doing!" he said

"I'm not in China!" said Brookins, her voice cracking. "I'm here, goddamn it!"

The protesters chuckled as Brookins walked away.

"You're not all here."

"She's just a libtard," another protester muttered, eying the cameras that had filmed the exchange. "Don't pay her any attention."

With Brookins beating a hasty retreat, a few protesters reflected on how incidents like that were what the media wanted from these kinds of rallies. "You see the cameras filming," said Maryland activist Ron Walters, "but they're looking for something embarrassing. That's when they put it on the news."

"Tea party crashers," said Massachusetts energy salesman Thomas Logsdon, nodding.

There were other conversations and speeches I wanted to write about, and one heckler wasn't representative of the day. But because I expected the spat to show up online, I checked in briefly with Brookins to ask why she'd acted out.

"My dad taught me how shoot when was I four years old," said Brookins, "because you had to learn how to shoot when the cougar was after you." Her beef with the protesters, she said, was that they knew there was no real threat to their guns.

"They're seditious," she said.

Photo by David Weigel

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By David Weigel  |  April 19, 2010; 3:20 PM ET
Categories:  Second Amendment  | Tags: Bill Clinton, China, Gun Control, Maryland, Right to keep and bear arms, Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, United States, Video camera  
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