On Monday, the Houston chapter of Open Carry Texas had originally planned an armed march into the Fifth Ward, a predominantly African-American community. The group canceled the event because, they say, one of the members was committed to a previously scheduled event elsewhere.
Canceling the march was probably fortuitous because what could possibly have gone wrong? A gaggle of white, paleoconservative rednecks with military-style rifles strapped to their chests marching through an African-American neighborhood is never a recipe for harrowing consequences.
But seriously, while they're not in line with the traditional definition of "terrorists," the various open carry gangs popping up in shopping center parking lots, Target stores and all points in between need to face more intensive scrutiny for deliberately inciting fear among bystanders.
Imagine in the days and weeks following the Boston Marathon bombing, a group of self-proclaimed "constitutionalists" decided to exercise their right to assemble at a high school track and field event with backpacks filled pressure cookers. There's nothing inherently illegal about it, is there? Or imagine if following 9/11 a group if Islamic citizens walked into a random public place carrying box cutters and shouting, "Allahu akbar!" It's extraordinarily difficult to see the difference between these examples and, in the wake of ongoing mass shootings and other less heinous though still terrifying shootings in schools, shopping malls and movie theaters, groups of shall we say odd-looking white guys marching into department stores and Starbucks restaurants armed to the teeth with AR-15s, the Sandy Hook weapon. Really, is there any difference at all? It's doubtful the pressure-cooker or box-cutter "protesters" would be allowed to get away with such activities. So, why are the open carry gangs getting a free pass?
The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees "the right of the people peaceably to assemble." Naturally then, there's nothing wrong with peaceably assembling and protesting, but much like anti-abortion protesters gathered near a grade school playground with giant placards featuring images of aborted fetuses, or Code Pink protesters accosting public officials with blood-red hands and, inexplicably, giant puppets, there are some forms of protest that go too far.
That said Code Pink and the anti-abortion groups aren't (necessarily) armed.
However, carrying loaded -- or even unloaded -- military-style weapons that are intentionally designed to look like props from a Michael Bay movie goes light years beyond peaceably protesting and merges into being ominous, sneering intimidation of innocent people, shoppers and so forth. There's absolutely nothing "peaceable" about assembling while armed with weapons of death... CONTINUE READING
(ht Tony Munter)