The Political Cowardice of Open Gun Demonstrations

A while ago, I argued that guns make urban areas dysfunctional:

Last week, I attended a public hearing about Boston’s Green Line (which is always fucked). For those who haven’t been to public meetings in cities, it’s always a tough crowd. When the meeting reached the audience question time, the very first speaker started going on and on, at which point, a woman declared, “You’re repeating yourself, and there are thirty other people waiting to ask a question” (which was true on all counts). So he got to the point (though I’m not sure what it was…) and finished. Contrast this to the healthcare town hall meetings of 2009 where some very agitated ‘patriots’ showed up with sidearms–in the actual meetings. Is anyone in the audience going to tell him to get to the point? Is anyone going to vociferously disagree with him? He is an agitated man with a gun. That is not politeness, that is fear, despite the quips about an armed society being a polite one.

If there is one hallmark failing urban neighborhoods, it is that residents don’t approach and criticize other people because they are afraid they will be shot. For cities to work, people have to be able to communicate with each other without fear of violence (ironically, one would think conservatives would be keen on the whole paralegal enforcement of community norms).

Great minds think alike–Digby (boldface mine):

I’m fairly sure these protesters understand very well why average people fear the proliferation of guns or they wouldn’t carry their guns to a political rally, an act obviously designed to intimidate the opposition. After all, like any other Americans they could protest these gun laws without carrying loaded guns. They could carry signs, they could march around, they could occupy a building or participate in civil disobedience, which requires that one submit oneself to the law. But they don’t. They carry loaded guns to protests and political events. And that means these protests and political events are not opportunities for people to freely debate and disagree. After all, protests and political events are by their nature often contentious, angry and emotional. When one side is armed with [semi-]automatic weapons, I think the other side can be forgiven for being reluctant to engage them.


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2 Responses to The Political Cowardice of Open Gun Demonstrations

  1. dr2chase says:

    You know, sheriffs used a taser to shut up that guy (“Don’t tase me, bro!”) years ago after a minute or two of talking; seems like that should be the default treatment for any armed yammerer who doesn’t sit down after the first request. But I’m sure that it would never come to that, because an armed society is a polite society, right? 🙂

  2. Your arguments just keep getting more and more scientific. Living as I do in Vermont, where for many decades, pistols can be carried, openly or hidden, in public without permit, we have nothing but completely dysfunctional urban areas just as you predicted. I live in Burlington – who would want to live here? All the “Best places to Live” surveys which list Burlington in the top ten are a conspiracy of the NRA no doubt.

    Our tradition of Town Meeting day continues, even, inexplicably, in our dysfunctional urban centers despite the fact that everyone knows they are a sham because of the corrosive heckler’s veto of the pistol-packing politicos in attendance stifling free debate and inhibiting disagreement.

    That Vermont is perceived as a solidly blue state is again, a conspiracy ingeniously hatched and carried out by these same elements of the right-wing. Don’t be misled, we are prisoners in paradise! Send help!

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