It started of in New Hampshire last week. A guy with a loaded pistol strapped to his leg in the protester crowd. Law enforcement could do nothing; the guy had a permit.
It's happened a few times since then, culminating this past weekend in Arizona when some anti-Obama protester showed up strapped with a loaded semi-automatic rifle. Again, all perfectly legal.
And why was he there? His quote: "We will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority with a vote."
Yeah, I'm troubled. This country has a rather prolonged history with political violence, and — with the exception of some radical bombings in the 1960's — almost all of it, and certainly all of it in the past 30 years, has come from the gun-toting NRA-loving right wing crowd.
I know, I know. Second Amendment and all that. But this isn't a discussion about rights. The Second Amendment, very broadly, gives one the right to have guns for self-defense. Well, what kind of self-defense is needed by right-wingers at an Obama town hall meeting? It's not as if liberals arm themselves to the teeth, or froth at the mouth making violent protests.
It seems to me that the presence of guns at political rallies is intended to send a subtle, subconscious signal to ratchet up the already overheated political debates. I mean, when a guy with an assault rifle shows up at a presidential event, saying that he will resist the will of the majority, he's not talking about self-defense. He's talking about violent overthrow of the government.
UPDATE: Yes, these people are dangerous:
Ernest Hancock, the online radio host who staged an interview with an assault rifle-wielding associate at the Obama event in Arizona yesterday — and was himself armed with a 9 millimeter pistol — was a vocal supporter and friend of right-wing anti-government militia members who were convicted of conspiracy and weapons charges in the 90s.
And in an interview today with TPMmuckraker, Hancock said he still believes the Viper Militia case was "manufactured" by the same government that manufactured Waco and lied to its people about 9/11.