Get this through your head, people:
The ability to do harm does not translate into the intention to do harm.
This seems to be the biggest mental disconnect that is missing in the minds of the network newsies when they see armed citizens protesting OUTSIDE OF (when did standing 100 yards off the property of a civic center translate to being "at a town hall meeting?" Hell, the next time my chief orders me to attend a city council meeting, does this mean that I can sit across the street and check my email on my laptop, and claim attendance?) town hall meetings.
"Who in their right mind would attend a town hall meeting with a gun?!?"
"This appears to have the potential to turn violent."
First, they're not IN THE MEETING. They're making a legal, peaceful protest outside. They are abiding by the laws of the land, and local ordinances. They are also, sadly, invoking their First Amendment, as well as their Second Amendment. I say sadly, because it really shouldn't be considered a radical statement to invoke an amendment under the U.S. Constitution. But since it is, I would submit that protesters with guns get a double dose of Bill Of Rights protection to their peaceful activities.
In the meeting, I'm moderately okay with heaters being left outside, so long as there is good security. There are factions out there who seem to view a town hall meeting or a city counsel meeting or what-have-you as an opportunity to show their inner soccer hooligan. If you can assure that we're all safe in there, then, yeah, I'll accept a few minutes (or droning hours-- have you ever been to one of those things?) of being disarmed.
But outside, on the street? Hundreds if not thousands of feet from the actual meeting but along the approach? Prithee, what would be a more appropriate venue to voice a public protest?
- Be more afraid of the guy with a Lexus and a case of beer in the back seat.
- Be more afraid of the kid filling up the gallon gas can for his lawn mower, with a lighter in his pocket.
- Be more afraid of the soccer mom making brownies for the little league team with a bunch of rat poison under the sink.
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I remember having a conversation with my liberal buddy in Boy Scouts, at age 14, one evening on a campout. He was shaken when I made my point thusly: "If you're so afraid of the ability to do harm, then why weren't you afraid that I might slit your throat with my pocketknife or my scatchet while you shared our tent last night?"
"You're scaring me, Matt!"
"Why?!? Because it just occurred to you that I have the ability to do you harm? Nothing has changed about me from five minutes ago, when I was your apparently harmless buddy. You've just realized that I possess the simple capability to hurt you. Now, in fact, I have no intention of ever harming you, and you don't ever have to worry about that from me, even if we stop being friends. But it's going to be a long, scary life for you if you can't get through your head that just because people can, doesn't mean people will. And for the most part, everyone can."
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Recently, I disarmed a weird guy who was trespassing on the property of a single lady at night. I issued the guy a Criminal Trespass Notice, and kept his technically-illegal knife to go into my P.D.'s evidence locker. While giving the homeowner her copy of the Criminal Trespass Warning notice that I had served to the guy who had been on her property (he was a neighbor), I casually mentioned the knife.
She lost her mind. I mean, LOST HER MIND.
Look, this fellow wasn't right. I'll admit that. He was acting strangely. I don't make it a habit of disarming people over minor technicalities in the law, but this fellow pinged me as being a tad off plumb. But she had been in her open house, and he was outside, and he hadn't been waving the knife around-- it was just clipped to his waistband. You would have thought that she had just survived a hail of gunfire. I explained that I wouldn't interpret his possession of the knife as direct threat to her, but that I think she ought to have a plan in place, both for dealing with him specifically, and her personal protection, generally.
"So you think I should get a gun, then?"
"Lady, I said no such thing. But if you do, I strongly suggest that you get trained in the proper use and safety of it, by highly-qualified instructors. All I said is that you need to have a plan," I said.
"I never thought that I needed one," she told me.
While I appreciate her honesty in admitting this, I think that this is a kind of reality check that she has been lacking, in her assessment of the world: All weapons presented a threat, and she had no plan of action for her personal safety.