This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

August 18, 2009

“Open Carry”…and (again) I’m Wary…

A man toting an assault rifle* was among a dozen protesters carrying weapons while demonstrating outside President Barack Obama’s speech to veterans on Monday, but no laws were broken. It was the second instance in recent days in which unconcealed weapons have appeared near presidential events.

…Asked whether the individuals carrying weapons jeopardized the safety of the president, [U.S. Secret Service spokesman Ed] Donovan said, “Of course not.”

The individuals would never have gotten in close proximity to the president, regardless of any state laws on openly carrying weapons, he said. A venue is considered a federal site when the Secret Service is protecting the president and weapons are not allowed on a federal site, he added…. [Source, emphasis added]

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*The term assault rifle is a translation of the German word Sturmgewehr (literally meaning “storm rifle”), “storm” used as a verb being synonymous with assault, as in “to storm the compound.” The name was coined by Adolf Hitler to describe the Maschinenpistole 44, subsequently re-christened Sturmgewehr 44, the firearm generally considered the first true assault rifle that served to popularize the concept. [Wikipedia entry]

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“It is extremely disturbing that you have that kind of weapon in close proximity to where the president is,” said Ruben Gallego, a retired military veteran and Arizona Democratic Party official who observed the man.

“He was demonstrating his Second Amendment rights,” Gallego added, “but he was clearly there to intimidate people who were there exercising their First Amendment rights.”

…Gallego, who served a tour of duty in Iraq, said he believes the AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle was loaded. He spotted a magazine clip in the firearm and another in the man’s back pocket.

…”Individuals carrying loaded weapons at these events require constant attention from police and Secret Service officers, thus stretching their protective efforts even thinner,” Helmke [president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence] said. “The possibility that these weapons might be grabbed or stolen or accidentally mishandled increases the risks of serious injury or death to all in attendance.”

Voices messages left with several NRA officials in Arizona were not returned. [Source]

I’ll ask the question again. Well?

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