How The Tune Changed On Guns In Richmond

The title is simple. “Racial justice advocates arm themselves to keep the peace at Robert E. Lee statue,” the headline reads from the Richmond Times-Dispatch. It’s about those in the racial justice crowd milling about parts of Richmond while armed, ostensibly to protect themselves from being attacked.

While I’m sure I disagree with these folks on a great many things–probably revolving around the definition of “racial justice”–I support their right to keep and bear arms.

However, I can’t help but be caught a little off guard by how the story reads.

A .45-caliber handgun was tucked in the waistband of Jasmine Kelley’s shorts Sunday night as she stood outside the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue. She purchased it for about $475 last week, and it hasn’t been fired yet.

As the protests against racial prejudice began three weeks ago, Kelley, 29, quickly decided her role would be to protect others. She started by calling other protesters to check on their safety. Then, they were given walkie-talkies so they could communicate faster. Then, other protesters started showing up with guns in an effort to protect others.

Now, as groups assemble around the Lee statue every day in what has become a campground-like environment, a loosely organized group of men and women with handguns and rifles patrol the area, intent on keeping visitors safe. They chose not to divulge how many armed participants they have, except to say there are “plenty.”

Every person interviewed for this story said the purpose of his or her weapon was protection.

Now, in and of itself, I have no issue with this. I think everyone should consider a firearm for protection, even those who disagree with me on virtually everything politically.

What I do find interesting is just how different the tone from the media is compared to another time this year when there were groups of armed protestors.

On Lobby Day in Richmond, gun rights advocates swarmed the state capitol. Fencing kept those with guns from getting too close, but plenty opted to stay outside of that secure area and maintain their right to keep and bear arms. They milled out, took photos with one another, and generally had a pretty good time from what I could see.

Yet the media’s tone was oh-so-very different.

Of course, different people had different issues. Trying to catalog them all would require resources far beyond me. However, a few I remember specifically. For example, one commentator argued that those armed protestors were inhibiting the free-speech rights of those who disagreed with them. By having guns, they intimidated their opponents into silence.

I haven’t heard similar commentary on this crowd. Funny, that.

Others argued that armed protestors in the streets was simply not American, something we should never see and that our Founding Fathers would have found abhorrent.

I haven’t heard anything like that this go around either. Again, funny how that shakes out.

The truth of the matter is that the opposition to armed protestors has never been really about being armed. It’s about who was armed. Armed leftists protesting is a matter the media is routinely mum on. It doesn’t bother them, particularly. The only reason they report it is that they figure we’ll all suddenly start backing gun control because the “wrong people” are armed.

Except, that’s not how it works. We generally recognize that law-abiding citizens have a right to keep and bear arms regardless of their personal politics. While I find leftists more likely to engage in violence than the right, until they do, they have the same rights as I do. That includes attending protests while armed.

So no, we’re not going to make a huge think out of the fact that they’re armed. That doesn’t bother me in the least.

The hypocrisy by the media, the same media that vilified pro-gun activists just a few months back, is what bothers me. The next time the media makes a thing about armed protestors being so horrible, I’m going to remember just how they said no such thing about these armed protestors.