Up in Arms, Down in Common Sense

Let’s start with consensus – none of us wants to see harm come to our President.

We recognize that as Americans, we’re entitled to certain rights, among them the right to bear arms. But I presume not one of us wishes to see the exercise of that second amendment right result in harm – particularly not peril to the Nation’s Chief Executive. I’m hoping we’re at least on the same page there.

Here’s where I may begin to lose some of the crowd.

Sometimes there  can be a mistaking of our “inalienable rights” – that of life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness – and what we presume to be the absolute nature of others granted under the Bill of Rights, which includes the 2nd Amendment.

Amendment #2 grants us the right to bear arms (out of necessity, some would say, due to the absence of any true armed force during America’s infancy). But the right to bear arms isn’t absolute. Which is to say that while you as an American Citizen have the right to own a firearm, it’s within the purview of local governments, for example, to regulate how and where you transport and use your glock.

Furthermore, it can be soundly argued that the Secret Service’s responsibility to protect the President of the United States supersedes, in certain instances, the exercise of our free rights including arms and speech.

As a member of the working press, I enjoyed the privilege of covering a couple of Presidential visits. That was my 1st amendment right as a reporter. But access to the presidential venues required clearances which included background checks. With cause, the Secret Service could have barred me from proximity to POTUS and to some extent revoked the exercise of my 1st amendment right of free press.

No, the gun-toting protesters who have been showing up at Obama appearances haven’t broken any laws. But seriously, let’s not pretend either that they’ve exercised the best judgment bringing along an assault weapon in one instance to a spectacle already inflamed with passions – often anti-Obama passions.

Sure, there’s nothing to stop someone from carrying their rifle to a rally. But, there’s also nothing to stop anyone in a crowd from seizing that same firearm and using it to cause harm. Crowds have been known to become unruly. And when you have hotheads standing around up in arms, why make it any easier to get a hold of arms – as in firearms – at the height of their anger?

It just doesn’t make sense.

It would seem this is less a matter of the Second Amendment than that of the First. Amendment #1 alludes to “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” The presence of “strapped” protesters just doesn’t feel so “peaceable” to me.

Call me crazy that way.

Many of precisely the same people who applaud seeing assault rifles in anti-Obama crowds were much less supportive of seeing Black Panthers parading around neighborhoods wearing berets and carrying shotguns.

I think back in the sixties and early seventies they used words like “intimidation,” “lawlessness” and “public nuisance” to describe that behavior. I don’t recall seeing many accounts of mainstream America applauding the Panthers’ Second Amendment rights.

Second Amendment or otherwise, the Secret Service has the responsibility to keep our President safe. It has the right to push these gun-wielders as from Presidential venues as agents choose in order to ensure the President’s safety. Don’t believe me? Just ask an air traffic controller about the clearing of Air Space around Air Force One.

If they insist on bringing their guns to protests let them do so from far away. They can yell, scream and shout all they want out of earshot – or any other shot for that matter.


2 thoughts on “Up in Arms, Down in Common Sense

  1. Well no one should want to see him harmed. I don’t think anything would happen. They’re just expressing their passion for the right to bear arms. Secret Service would not let them near him.


  2. Great point re: the Black Panthers carrying arms in public. The majority certainly viewed that very differently. They were very frightened. It’s all very disheartening. No one really wants to get anything done with health care. They just want to make each other look bad and so nothing substantial will ever get done.


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