What does the Second Amendment have to do with health care reform? Despite the non-arrests of gun-toting fanatics outside the town hall meetings conducted by President Obama on the topic: absolutely nothing.
In case you haven't seen the coverage of these incidents on the news or on blogs, allow me to step back a bit and bring you up to speed.
First there was a man outside a health care town hall meeting with President Obama who held a sign reading "it's time to water the tree of liberty" with a loaded gun strapped to his leg. The message on the sign is derived from a Thomas Jefferson quote that reads: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots." Notice the reference to blood. You probably don't recall this but the terrorist Timothy McVeigh wore this quote on the shirt he chose to wear in his mug shots when he was arrested for the Oklahoma City bombings.
Because it is not against the law in New Hampshire for people to stand outside an event with loaded handguns, the man was not arrested. Encouraged no doubt by the extensive media coverage, a right wing group with ties to the man in New Hampshire, coordinated a showing outside a speech (which touched on health care) by the president to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Arizona (Where, bonus, the person who saddles up to the bar next to you or sits down next to your family at a restaurant might just be packing heat. Handy for when someone decides to recreate a scene from The Godfather. Also, in the wake of all this, Travel writer Arthur Frommer has decided to just say no to Arizona.). This time they brought not only handguns but some strapped assault rifles to their backs. They then proceeded to videotape interviews with each other in an effort to give the appearance to the media that they were just random dudes who independently had a collective thought and decided to show up. Oh, and one of them was a black dude so, clearly, race has nothing to do with raging against the HR 3200, I mean health care reform, I mean any and all of President Obama's initiatives, I mean the black POTUS, I mean the obvious very deep threat health care reform poses to the Second Amendment... I think you see where I'm going with this.
Just out of curiosity, I wonder where these gun-toting fools patriots were when George W. Bush was having people arrested for wearing t-shirts with the word Bush surrounded by a red circle and strike-through? Why weren't they there implying that blood should be shed to protect the absolutely violated First Amendment rights of registered Republican Jeff Rank and his wife Nicole?
Although the couple stood peacefully on the public grounds with the rest of the audience, two men believed to be working for the Secret Service or White House approached the Ranks and demanded that they remove or cover their t-shirts. When the couple refused, the officials instructed city police to arrest Jeff and Nicole, causing them to be removed from the Capitol grounds in handcuffs, jailed for one to two hours and charged with trespassing. Nicole Rank was also temporarily suspended from her work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Given that the locked and loaded protesters of today don't face Constitution-ignoring presidential goon squads, I would also argue that their fears of Obama taking away their guns and belief in NRA claptrap about the threat the president poses to Second Amendment rights are beyond silly.
Interpreting the Second Amendment is at best tricky. There is an entire cottage industry devoted to analysis of the use of commas and grammatical structure of the Amendment. The United States Supreme Court, which very rarely tackles such interpretation, has never ruled that the Second Amendment provides an absolute unregulated right for individuals to posses firearms. Even in a recent case striking down a Washington D.C. gun ban, they did not go that far.
And, even though Obama, a former Constitutional Law professor, expressed support for the court's decision, Wal-Marts can't keep ammunition in stock because of the fears being stoked about President Obama's wild and crazy anti-gun fanaticism. In some cases, just to somehow make sure that they can keep their guns, a few have thought that putting those bullets into other human beings will be sure to win friends and influence people in favor of their cause.
Their cause is hating the President and anything they believe he supports. It is not about health care reform. It is not about the Second Amendment. And if you truly believe that in a country where presidents and black leaders are assassinated, at a time when the president is black, when threats against the president are at a record high, that there is no desire by these protesters to imply that they would hope that someone tries to kill Barack Obama, I have a case of AK-47's to sell you. I'll meet you under a bridge I own. It's for sale, too.
Hopefully the spectre of armed protestors will not keep people away from attending town hall meetings and learning about health care reform proposals and making their "views known above the din of the shouting and the silent scowl of the gun." According to OpenCongress.org, one of the fabulous tools Nancy Watzman of the Sunlight Foundation has been sharing with us here on BlogHer, there are no bills about assault weapons or firearms control even before Congress at this time. Let's not let this non-issue, media sexy though it might be, distract us from real, honest conversations about the very important issue of health care reform.
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Stay tuned: BlogHer CE Dana Loesch will present a view from the right tomorrow.
Frank Rich at The New York Times: The Guns of August
Debbie Hines at Legal Speaks: President Obama, Protesters and Guns
Protecting our President should be our paramount concern. If gun restrictions limit the gun toters rights for several hours, where is the harm? They can always pack after the President leaves.
Greg Morelli at Food Fight: 2nd Amendment Sissies
Let me be clear, I hated George W. Bush. He offended me to the core.
Let me be clear, I want him arrested for war crimes. I want him tried for lying to the world about Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Listen-up, 2nd Amendment Sissies, watch as I take aim: with words.
I hated George W. Bush when he was president of the United States of America. I never wanted him in office. But even more, I never wanted him hurt.
Holly C. at Gather: Man With Gun Waiting Outside Obama's Town Hall Meeting
But let's be clear: anyone watching the mounting rage over, of all things, health care — perhaps one of the most boring and complex policy subjects — has to worry that these people are going to try to kill Barack Obama. That's not an extrapolation from unhinged rhetoric, or a partisan reading of the imagined intentions of our political enemies. It's a rational reading of the anticipated behavior of a man who brandishes a gun at the location where the president is expected to imminently arrive while holding a sign that openly advocates his assassination. And the astonishing, breathtaking, maddening fact that he hasn't been violently taken to the ground by large men wearing suits and earpieces is an open encouragement to anyone else so inclined to give it a shot.
Cara at The Curvature: Man Destroys Rosa Parks Poster at Health Care Town Hall
It’s no big secret that the health care reform town halls are getting dramatically out of hand, and yet again displaying the erratic, borderline violent and frankly quite frightening behavior of extremist right-wingers. From the “Death to Obama” sign (h/t) and the man who brought a gun to an Obama town hall, there’s a lot of frightening, disgusting, and yes, racist, stuff going on.
Cynematic at MOMocrats: Congressman Adam Schiff's Health Care Town Hall
In case you were wondering, I attended the town hall held by my congressperson a little more than a week ago, and noticed no one in attendance packing heat. I joke here, but I take any vigilantism or talk of intimidating people with arguments made in the presence of a gun seriously. That's not reasoned debate, that's bullying.
BlogHer CE Maria Niles also saw no guns outside the health care town hall she attended and blogged about at her personal blog PopConsumer.
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