No, gun brandishing isn't happening at protests

No, gun brandishing isn't happening at protests
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

I have said before that I’m not a big fan of openly carrying firearms at protests that have nothing to do with the right to keep and bear arms. My reasoning is simple: It distracts from what the protest is actually about.


Yet there are people who disagree with me, and that’s fine. Yet it seems that now those folks are being accused of basically brandishing guns at those protests.

The piece that does so is at the New York Times and is behind a paywall. Luckily, Newsbusters opted to talk a bit about it.

In a Saturday article headlined “At Protests, Guns Are Doing the Talking,” New York Times investigative reporter Mike McIntire accuses gun rights advocates with “a right-wing agenda” of “increasingly using open-carry laws to intimidate opponents and shut down debate” at protests, gatherings, and public meetings. There’s a legal term for what he’s describing and it’s called “brandishing”; a term that describes an illegal activity and does not appear once in his nearly 2,600-word piece.

The word doesn’t appear because he knows that’s not what’s happening. He even admits that “shootings were rare” and that “armed protests accounted for less than 2 percent” of total protests. But that admission didn’t come until paragraph 42 of 56. He would also admit that when the rare violence would break out it “often involved fisticuffs” with other groups “such as antifa [sic].”

“Across the country, openly carrying a gun in public is no longer just an exercise in self-defense — increasingly it is a soapbox for elevating one’s voice and, just as often, quieting someone else’s,” McIntire openly lamented in his opening paragraph.


For the record, I don’t think openly carrying a gun in public has been about self-defense in a while. Not exclusively so, anyway. Most who opt to open carry do so for a variety of reasons, but many will say part of their effort is to normalize seeing guns in a law-abiding capacity.

Few do so just for self-defense, though there are exceptions.

Yet what about guns at protests? Is it a way to silence disagreement?

To be sure, there are likely to be those who won’t say what they’d like to say in the presence of a firearm in the hands of their ideological opponents. They won’t get into the other guy’s face and yell at him about how he’s a terrible human being for disagreeing with the guy.

So yeah, it can quell a certain degree of speech.

But it’s not like this guy isn’t going home and hopping on Twitter and saying the exact same thing. It’s also not like respectful disagreement with this armed individual’s position would elicit a violent reaction, either. If so, that’s a crime and the person in question would be arrested, as they should be.


Not that it really matters because as noted above, it’s a tiny minority of all protests–less than two percent–and therefore not much of an issue. But that’s buried way down at the bottom of the piece, likely with the knowledge that most people never get that far into a story before clicking away.

Yet that fact matters, even if the author and editors at the Times might wish it doesn’t.

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