Not that the media did a great job of disguising it before now, but I swear that journalists aren’t even attempting to hide their anti-gun bias any longer. A new story by the Boise NPR affiliate about armed protesters “confronting” anti-racism rallies leaves many facts aside in favor of a false narrative that ignores the role that firearms are playing on both sides of the current political debate.
From the very first line of the story, reporter Heath Druzin makes it clear that he’s no neutral observer reporting objective facts to his audience.
Armed protesters and vigilantes are able to operate freely in much of the country. That’s because many states have increasingly relaxed gun laws, leaving law enforcement unable or unwilling to step in, even when protesters say they are being intimidated.
At anti-racism rallies and marches across the country, protesters are coming face to face with police — but also with heavily armed civilians. America’s gun laws make it difficult to diffuse the tension.
Note how armed protesters are lumped in with “vigilantes.” What laws make it possible for vigilantes to operate freely in much of the country, and does Druzin really believe that you shouldn’t be able to exercise your Second Amendment right along with your First? Okay, dumb question because I’m sure the answer is “yes.” Druzin’s story starts with the premise that something needs to change, and that something is our “relaxed” gun laws.
Armed counterprotesters, mostly white and some members of the militia movement, have confronted anti-racism rallies in at least 33 states, according to a review of reporting and social media by Guns & America .Some say they’re there to protect businesses. Others oppose the Black Lives Matter movement. Some have acted like police, stopping protesters and demanding identification.
And it has led to violence. In Albuquerque, New Mexico a militia member allegedly shot and injured a protester. In Oregon, police arrested a man for allegedly pointing a gun at protesters. In Ohio, local government officials said gun rights advocates were among those who disrupted an anti-racism protest.
Druzin makes a mistake by lumping in people who are protecting businesses with people who are actively counter-protesting. He makes another mistake when he discusses Albuquerque. There’s no evidence that the individual who shot and injured a protester was a member of a militia, and the New Mexico Civil Guard members who were present say they actually helped detain the man until authorities arrived a few minutes later. .
Druzin also inexplicably ignores the fact that, for now anyway, prosecutors have dropped assault charges against Steven Baca because video evidence shows that Baca was being attacked by several individuals when he fired the shots that wounded a protester who had just swung a skateboard at Baca’s head.
Also ignored by Druzin: the presence of firearms in the hands of CHOP squatters in Seattle, anti-racism protesters in Richmond who’ve been standing guard with AR-15s and legally carried handguns, and armed protesters in Atlanta who took control of the Wendy’s parking lot where Rayshard Brooks was killed by police. Here’s how Atlanta Journal Constitution columnist Bill Torpy described his visit to that Wendy’s.
“Don’t make any sudden moves, or you will get shot.”
The fast-food restaurant was torched the night after Brooks’ death, and America watched on CNN as flames engulfed it. The charred, graffiti-scrawled ruins have since become part shrine to a Black man’s death, and part Occupy Atlanta — the University Avenue branch.
Welcome to Mad Max in The ATL, a bizarre scene with a post-apocalyptic feel. It’s a space where gun-toting dudes stand sentry to barren territory, where they serve as a ragtag Checkpoint Charlie, stopping bemused and sometimes alarmed motorists.
If Druzin is going to write a story about armed protesters, why is he so intent on only portraying one side as armed? Aren’t these same “increasingly relaxed gun laws” responsible for arming protesters in Atlanta just like they’re responsible for arming militia members in Idaho?
I’m used to media outlets like NPR being anti-gun, but this is a new twist: anti-gun when it comes to conservative or white gun owners, but silent and neutral when it comes to the same behavior from the radical left or black gun owners. Is Druzin scared of what the reaction on the Left would be if his piece was just as critical of Black Lives Matter supporters who are armed? Or does Druzin simply believe that his side should get a pass on the behavior he excoriates on the Right?
Since I don’t want to be accused of ignoring some of the legitimately bad behavior that Druzin does highlight, including allegations of guys open carrying their long guns and drinking in a Boise bar, and the arrest of an Oregon man for pointing a gun at protesters on a public street, let’s me close with this:
No matter what cause you’re fighting for, when you bring your Second Amendment rights into it, you’re now serving as a walking billboard for the right to keep and bear arms. What you put on that billboard is entirely up to you. Do you want to be welcoming? Intimidating? Scary? Informative? You decide what message you want people to walk away with after seeing you.
My advice: know the law, follow the law, and don’t be an ass. Being an ass while armed implicates the Second Amendment in a way that being an unarmed ass does not. It’s hard for me to call someone a Second Amendment activist if their criminal or buffoonish actions make it harder for all of us to exercise our constitutional rights. So no, don’t get drunk with your gun buddies while you’re carrying your AR. Don’t point guns at protesters on city streets, especially if they pose no threat to you. Don’t fire shots into the ground at a rally or protest. Don’t set up traffic checkpoints.
There’s a whole lot of “do not do’s” I could add to that list, but “don’t be an ass” covers an awful lot of ground. Actually, now that I think about it, that’s also pretty good advice for NPR reporters trying to cover the issue of armed protesters.