Someone please provide a rational argument for how bringing a long gun (in this instance, an AR-15) to a protest that isn’t in any way about firearms makes the person carrying the firearm look like anything other than an idiot.

Protesters defaced another Confederate monument in Texas early Monday morning. The message was clear: “This is racist” was spray-painted in a deep red over a memorial in Denton to Confederate soldiers.

Later that day, a 69-year-old Denton man named William Hudspeth went to the statue with cardboard signs that read “Please move the statute to a confederate museum,” the North Texas Daily reported. Another resident met him there armed with an assault rifle. Oklahoma State student and Denton local Stephen Passariello brandished the loaded AR-15 while entering into a verbal altercation with Hudspeth.

Passariello asked Hudspeth why he wasn’t protesting the monument months ago. Hudspeth responded that he’s demonstrated at the statue some 50 times since 2000. He told the newspaper reminds him of what the Confederacy “did to my father’s father.”

Hudspeth called the Denton County Police on Passariello. Authorities told him he could open carry the weapon, but preferred he put a sling on it so that it was secure to his body.

Politics is a public relations game. When you come to a protest poorly dressed, with a firearm in your hands, all the general public is going to see is a jerk with a gun attempting to intimidate his opponents. In this instance it’s even more absurd, as the 22 year-old man carrying the gun is squared off against a polite and frail-looking elderly man.

Stephen Passariello may be a nice young man, but like so many long-gun open carriers, he didn’t stop to think about how his actions are going to be perceived by the majority of people.