My Right to Swing My AR-15
Every once in a while you read about a story like this one, from Appleton, Wisconsin:
Police detained two men openly carrying AR-15 rifles near Saturday’s farmers market, setting off a debate this week about response at the highly attended event.
It appears that two local citizens, Charles A. Branstrom and Ross A. Bauman, decided to exercise their constitutional rights by going to a peaceful public gathering armed with weapons designed to kill large numbers of people. Obviously, it was a stunt designed to flaunt gun-toting rights, with someone ready to video the whole thing.
Police told Branstrom and Bauman “that walking into a farmer’s market filled with a couple thousand individuals would be a recipe for disaster.”
Branstrom and Bauman maintained that they had the right to do so, the report says.
They have the right to provoke public fear and disruption. Interesting. I wonder what the revolutionary Minuteman fighters would have thought about heavily-armed people needlessly marching about the town square. Something tells me they would have had a better sense of propriety and responsibility regarding a solemn duty.
One can assume that Branstrom and Bauman point was, “We have a Second Amendment right to ‘bear’ arms, and that means we can carry our AR-15s wherever we damn please.” Gun advocacy groups call such stunts “educational,” claiming that people will get used to such things.
However, despite the viewpoints of people such as these, most Americans—including, and perhaps especially those who own guns themselves—do not like the idea of the streets being populated with people wielding military assault rifles. One can assume that the open-air violent crime rate in Appleton, Wisconsin is not in fact an actual threat, and even if it were, both police and local citizens would not feel more comfortable with random citizens eager to let go with their AR-15s in public taking it upon themselves to open fire on streets where their children walk.
Branstrom and Bauman acted ignorant of such attitudes, stating:
“I guess some people don’t like guns.”
They then claimed that the purpose for carrying the guns was “self-defense.” Really? They expected to get shot at at a suburban farmer’s market event? Or perhaps they thought it possible they might empty a few dozen rounds into a pickpocket?
Bullshit. There was no threat to them, and therefore no reasonable cause to carry the weapons. The reverse, in fact, is true: they were the threat. With no reasonable peaceful use for such weapons, their presence is a very real implicit threat to the other citizens there. It’s not that “some people don’t like guns,” it is that “some people don’t like implicit threats to slaughter their children.”
These gun-toting idiots may actually even think they were making a point about their rights and freedom, but what they were doing is the classic example of the only legitimate reason why any constitutional rights are abridged: infringing on the safety and rights of others. Some tend to forget about that rather vital and necessary counterpoint to one’s constitutional rights.