Saturday, June 13, 2015

Thanks To The Krait, This Blogger Envisions His Final Day

Wow! The Krait returns ad makes it double-snark this week. [For an explanation of Gail Collins' appellation, "The Krait," click here.] She correctly identifies the shift from the right to bear arms to the right to flaunt arms among the gun-loving wacko birds everywhere. This blogger has sworn a blood-oath in this blog to confront any open-carry idiot he encounters. It will start by an invitation to the gun-totin' idiot to stick his weapon(s) where the sun don't shine. If the idiot makes a threat, this blogger will invite the fool to make the blogger's day. After that, the blogger won't know what happened, but he hopes that the gunman ends his days strapped to a prison gurney awaiting the fatal drip. If this is a (fair & balanced) death wish, so be it.

[x NY FIshwrap]
Guns In Your Face
By Gail Collins

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Life in America requires a lot of advance preparation. For instance, when you’re getting ready for a plane trip you imagine what you’ll do if a problem arises — flight delay, long lines at security. But I bet you haven’t considered the best way to react if the man in front of you on the airport escalator has a gun dangling from his shoulder.

That very thing happened recently in Atlanta, when a Georgia resident named Jim Cooley came strutting through the airport lobby with a loaded assault rifle.

Cooley — who was taping the whole encounter and posted it on YouTube — corrected the police officer who stopped him. (“It’s not an automatic! It’s a semi-automatic!”) Then he declined to respond when she asked if he had a permit. (“Am I being detained? ...If you’re detaining me then I’m going to have to file a lawsuit.”) And, in the end, he walked away in triumph.

We’ve moved from the right to bear arms to the right to flaunt arms.

While the airport setting gives the incident a particular flair, this kind of thing has been happening quite a bit. In Michigan, the City of Grand Rapids has been in a legal battle with a man who took umbrage when police stopped him while he was walking down a residential street on a Sunday morning wearing camouflage, with a pistol strapped to his leg and singing “Hakuna Matata” from “The Lion King.”

Very few states have flat-out rules against openly carrying guns in public. It’s just something that never came up. “It’s not a practical thing to do,” said Laura Cutilletta of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. But it turns out that anyone with the legal right to carry a concealed weapon — which, in some states, doesn’t even require a permit — generally also has the legal right to walk into a McDonald’s with a gun sticking out of his waistband.

The open display of weaponry freaks out average citizens, especially the ones with children. It outrages police. At one point, even the National Rifle Association said the open carry demonstrations were “downright weird.” But the organization quickly backtracked, apologized, blamed the post on an errant staffer, and averred that “our job is not to criticize the lawful behavior of fellow gun owners.”

You’d think that lawmakers would move quickly to make it illegal, but with a few exceptions, there’s more enabling going on than anything else. After a Kalamazoo man walked into the public library’s summer reading party for children with a 9-millimeter gun strapped to his waist, worried officials asked the State Legislature to add libraries to a very small list of gun-free zones. The Legislature did nothing.

“Look, I got a gun!” yelled a man who walked into a park where kids were playing baseball in — yes! — Georgia. “There’s nothing you can do about it.” The police, who were summoned, determined he was absolutely right.

The Georgia State Legislature passed a law a few years back that made it legal for citizens to take their guns into the airport. At the time, then-Gov. Sonny Perdue was expressing concern about giving his wife the option of toting a pistol when she was “walking from one of those parking lots to pick up a grandchild or something like that.” He did not mention middle-age guys toting semiautomatic assault rifles past the check-in counter. But here we are.

In Texas, where open carry had been banned since the post-Civil War era, protesters staged demonstrations all around the state, toting their guns to family restaurants and storming the State Capitol, where they confronted one unsympathetic lawmaker in his office. In response, the Legislature enabled House members to install panic buttons in their offices, and then legalized open carry for Texans with gun permits.

Some commentators have attributed the whole open-carry phenomenon to white American men trying to work out their insecurities. We’ve got to stop blaming white men for everything. Really, they’ve contributed a lot to the country. Still, you can’t help but notice that there’s a certain demographic consistency to the people who are making a scene over their right to display arms.

It wasn’t always that way. California passed its first ban on open carry in the 1960s in response to the Black Panther Party. “The Legislature was debating an open-carry law when 30 Black Panthers showed up at the Statehouse with their guns,” said Adam Winkler, a professor of law at U.C.L.A. and the author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America (2011).

“The same day Governor Ronald Reagan made a speech, saying there’s no reason why a law-abiding person should be carrying a gun on the street.”

Maybe the way to turn this debate around would bring new recruits into the gun rights movement. “If open-carry advocates today were Marxist-leaning black radicals,” said Winkler, “we might have a very different situation.” Ω

[Gail Collins joined the New York Times in 1995 as a member of the editorial board and later as an op-ed columnist. In 2001 she became the first woman ever appointed editor of the Times editorial page. At the beginning of 2007, she took a leave in order to complete America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines. Collins returned to the Times as a columnist in July 2007. Collins has a BA (journalism) from Marquette University and an MA (government) from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Gail Collins’s newest book is As Texas Goes...: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda (2012).]

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