Protests around the country that began as demonstrations against stay-at-home orders have taken on a decidedly pro-2A feel in recent days, with AR-15’s and openly carried handguns an increasingly common feature at the events focused on re-opening the economy. On Monday, The View‘s Joy Behard took a dim view of the practice, going so far as to call those Americans exercising their First and Second Amendment rights “terrorists.”
“Give me liberty and give me death is what they’re basically proposing because a lot of people are going to die because of this behavior.”
“These people are being egged on by right-wing media and people like Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh,” Behar continued. “And why are you bringing guns to a rally? You want to call yourself protesters, leave your guns home. Those are terrorists who bring guns to things — to rallies.”
No, they’re not terrorists, and it’s utterly ridiculous for Behar to claim otherwise. It’s a sign of just how dumb our media has become that Behar went straight for the “t”-word, rather than
I think these protestors have every right to carry their gun while they’re protesting to re-open the economy, but even I had to wonder why the exercise of the Second Amendment is now seen as part of the standard operating procedure for these protests. Some of it has to do with the fact that a good number of these rallies and protests have been organized by Facebook groups run by the Dorr brothers, who have been accused of being scam artists interested in making a buck while attacking pro-Second Amendement lawmakers and organizations for not being effective, while pushing legislation that has virtually no chance of passage.
Still, even if the Dorrs are relying on their 2A connections to boost the members of their anti-quarantine Facebook groups, that doesn’t explain why more folks are carrying firearms at protests that have no connection to the brothers. I suspect part of why we’re seeing both First and Second Amendment rights at these demonstrations is because those in attendance are worried about the prospect of a tyrannical government, and the bearing of arms is a reminder that the Second Amendment is necessary to the security of a free state. Then there’s the fact that gun owners have been among the most organized and active elements on the Right, along with pro-life activists. I suspect that some of the gun owners are taking part in these protests because they’re comfortable protesting. They’re used to it. You object to something the government is doing? You go and protest.
Having said that, if I’m hoping for these protests to be as effective as possible at putting pressure on governors to begin to re-open a state’s economy, I would prefer these protests to be laser focused on the economy and the effects of the coronavirus shutdown on individuals. Suburban moms who hate “assault weapons” may also hate the fact that they’re now unemployed, but even if they’re ticked about shutdown orders, they may stay away from a protest if they think that it’s just going to be a bunch of “gun nuts” gathered on the state capitol grounds. If you’re hoping for big numbers, you need a big tent. The men and women posing with their AR-15’s on the steps of the Washington state capitol aren’t terrorists anymore than Joy Behar is, but they may serve as a distraction from the larger issues.
There are 22-million Americans who have filed for unemployment over the last few weeks, and the number of real unemployed is undoubtably far higher. In Los Angeles County, more than half of all residents report that they’re not currently working. These numbers are simply unsustainable, and Americans are right to be worried and eager to see the economy begin to open up again. Most of them are not expecting an instant return to normalcy, but they know that something’s gotta give.
Most of them also recognize that the coronavirus is real, highly contagious, and poses a real threat to the lives of millions of Americans. We don’t know the exact number of Americans who’ve died from COVID-19, but even if you believe that the number of COVID-19 deaths has been exaggerated 100-percent, you’re still left with roughly 21,000 fatalities since the first U.S. death was reported in early March. That’s more than all of the homicides in the United States in 2018. Our right of self-defense goes beyond our ability to own a firearm. We can also protect ourselves against things like viruses, and right now Americans are more likely to die from the coronavirus than a home invader, a carjacker, or a robber. As I said, I’m all for these protests and demonstrations taking place, but personally I feel a lot better when I see the demonstrators standing six feet away from each other and wearing masks.
I also have to point out that Behar spent several minutes going off on the organized protests, which are coming mostly from the Right, but she ignored the low-key flouting of social distancing rules in her own back yard. Sunday was a beautiful day in New York City, and there were plenty of people in Central Park and on city streets taking in the afternoon sun. They weren’t waving signs or carrying AR-15’s, however, and since they’re part of deep-blue New York, they weren’t likely to ever draw Behar’s ire. The media, for the most part, is recently only interested in portraying the growing discontent over stay-at-home measures as a partisan issue, but it’s much deeper than that. We’re social creatures, and it’s simply impossible and unreasonable to keep all of us confined for months at a time.
The fact is, there are far more Americans who are simply going about their lives as best they can, even if that means getting out and about, than there are Americans who haven’t left their home in a month or Americans protesting shut down orders in large crowds. On Sunday, my wife and I took a four hour drive, first to pick up a couple of pigs, then to drop off a couple of goats, and finally to pick up BBQ to help keep one of our favorite joints in business. At every stop along the way, we took precautions to keep her safe, since her immune system is compromised from her chemotherapy treatments. She stayed in the truck when we picked up our bacon seeds, she stayed six feet away from our friends who picked up two of our goats to take home as pets, and the folks at BBQ Exchange in Gordonsville, Virginia put our order in the back seat of the truck so we didn’t even have to go inside the restaurant.
It wasn’t normal but it was doable, and I think that’s what most Americans, whether or not they’re carrying their black rifle to a protest, are looking for right now. The folks who are protesting aren’t terrorists. They’re terrified of the economic damage that a prolonged shutdown could mean for the economy and the stability of our nation. They’re not demanding a return to normalcy, but a move towards something that is workable.