I am a longstanding foe of gun controls. But I am compelled to reconsider my reflexive opposition after a dozen or so gun-toting folk – including one fella carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle – showed up yesterday outside the Phoenix Convention Center to protest a speech by President Barack Obama.
I might have been slightly less uneasy about the protest if, say, the president had ventured to Phoenix to propose new legislation restricting the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. But Mr. Obama actually was in Phoenix to talk about health care.
And though I do not count myself an Obama supporter – I voted for John McCain – I find it profoundly troubling that people can show up with firearms at an event at which the President of the United States is present.
I understand that Arizona is a so-called “open-carry” state. That anyone who legally possesses a firearm is allowed to carry the weapon in public – as long they do so openly.
But I also am mindful of the fact that three presidents – John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford – have been targets of gun-wielding wannabe assassins during my lifetime. One president was killed, one was nearly killed, and the third miraculously survived the attempts on his life.
What troubles me is that my friends in the gun-rights movement – including my Christian friends who support gun ownership strictly to protect home and family – have not spoken out against the gun-wielding protestors in Phoenix. They apparently are afraid to say anything that acquiesces in any way to limitations on bearing arms.
But I think their fears are unfounded.
I don’t think the cause of gun-rights is undermined by saying that firearms are out of place at political forums that have absolutely nothing to do with gun-rights – like a presidential speech on health care.
And I don’t think that we do damage to the Second Amendment in saying that not even at a gun-rights rally should folk be allowed to tote fully-loaded military assault rifles, weapons designed to kill on the battlefield.