Second Amendment Foundation: No Open Carry at Political Rallies, Please
Jon Stokes 08.23.17
Alan Gottleib of the SAF has told the Washington Times that the org is, “not a fan of armed protests and highly discourage[s] that.” He went on to say, “Firearms serve a purpose, and the purpose is not a mouthpiece. It’s to defend yourself. If you are carrying it to make a political point, we are not going to support that.”
This comes after the ACLU has announced that it will not defend the First Amendment rights of armed political protestors.
I am also not a fan of openly carried guns at political rallies, for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, the optics are terrible. It gives the antis ammunition to cry “intimidation!” and to paint all gun owners as bent on violence.
My second objection, which is related to the first, is that I’m one of those people who thinks political protests should be done with a concrete, realistic policy goal in mind. Taking to the streets in an utterly ineffective — or, more often, counterproductive — fit of pique just to “send a message” is something I associate with lefties, whereas the pro-gun crowd typically eschews purely symbolic gestures in favor of more effective tactics. But open carrying at a protest is exactly the kind of “purely symbolic” yet ultimately counterproductive “own goal” that pro-2A advocates love to make fun of the left for.
Finally, I agree with Gottleib — guns are for shooting at things, not posturing and protesting. If you want to hold something at a protest to make a point, bring a sign or a banner, and leave the openly carried gun at home.
Of course, concealed carry is another matter. I wouldn’t go within a mile of a protest without carrying concealed. But open carry at protests is not for me, because I just don’t think it’s effective politics. As with everything, though, I’m willing to hear arguments to the contrary, if you have them.