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August 18, 2009 05:04 PM UTC

Why bring a machine gun to a political rally?

  • by: ThillyWabbit

I reported last week that the Colorado AR-15 shooters were planning on showing up in Grand Junction. As far as I know they did, but nobody took a picture of them.

Not so in Arizona.

A man is shown legally carrying a rifle at a protest against President Obama on Monday in Phoenix, Arizona.

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

Video from the protest in Phoenix, Arizona, shows the man standing with other protesters, with the rifle slung over his right shoulder.

Phoenix police said authorities monitored about a dozen people carrying weapons while peacefully demonstrating.

“It was a group interested in exercising the right to bear arms,” police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill said.

Arizona law has nothing in the books regulating assault rifles, and only requires permits for carrying concealed weapons. So despite the man’s proximity to the president, there were no charges or arrests to be made. Hill said officers explained the law to some people who were upset about the presence of weapons at the protest.

So here’s the question: Why?

There is no question that they were within their rights, but was it wise? Why was the purpose of bringing an 800 round-per-minute machine gun to a Presidential healthcare rally other than to either be menacing or shoot somebody–maybe even the President? Is it not at least possible that the public will be so shocked as to demand a new round of gun control laws?

Moreover, why the double standard? Why is a bunch of guys in purple SEIU shirts handing out “pre-printed signs” “thugs” who are “intimidating”, but a bunch of guys with machine guns and pistols wearing the same message pre-printed  on their clothes that executed terrorist Timothy McVeigh wore when he committed mass murder isn’t?


90 thoughts on “Why bring a machine gun to a political rally?

  1. I am opposed to gun control legislation, but these morons make me want to change that position..

    These guys also laid bare the idea that these protests are about healthcare. They aren’t.

    1. “We will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority with a vote.” — http://www.talkingpointsmemo.c

      The group the AR-15-toting patriot belongs to posted this video today, along with this note:

      Brother carries AR-15 Rifle at Obamabot Rally

      We went down to the Obama staged Healthcare rally and our buddy Chris rolled down there with his AR-15 and his 9mm


  2. Watch this genius pander to the “Let’s Do An Open Carry Outside Presidential Events” caucus.

    Josh Marshall:

    As Chris Matthews said today in his surreal interview with Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) of Georgia, you don’t take a gun somewhere unless you think there’s some chance you might have occasion to use it. So there’s no question that these guns are brought as a provocation.

        1. Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), and  U.S. v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990).

          Now I will let go back to spreading misinformation.

    1. It’s your constitutional right to wear assless chaps and go shirtless with nipple clamps, but I don’t recommend that either.

      So what’s the point other than to be menacing?

    2. What the hell does some guy’s semi-auto fixation have to do with (not) fixing the health care system?

      But be honest, and spare us the moaning about constitutional rights. Our right to free speech permits us to argue that these folks are morons. Check it out! It’s somewhere under Amendment 1.

      So let’s get to the point. The guns are being brought for a purpose. The purpose is communicative–‘symbolic speech’ as the courts would say. What is being communicated? Why?  

      1. It doesn’t have much to do with health care, but it has a great deal to do with the extreme conservative view of Obama.  Gun sales surged in the face of his election on fears of restrictive gun control laws, despite the fact that he was more pro-gun than other Democratic party candidates, embracing an individual right to bear arms almost identical to that found by the moderately conservative U.S. Supreme Court before it did so itself.

        It also has a lot to do with rising militancy from the right.  They have gone from having a Republican President and the power to filibuster in the U.S. Senate, to having to rely on moderate Democrats to achieve anything at the federal level through politics.  Someone who perceives that they have less power often resorts to other means to attempt to get what they want.

    3. Seriously, Republicans are waiting for any opportunity to start killing people at these things. Everyone knows that’s why you’re doing it. You want Kenneth Gladney to show up and push someone until someone pushes back, and then you can start killing us and finally living out your Red Dawn fantasies.

    4. If you got the cajones to show up with a gun, have the cajones to admit that you are bringing it as an intimidation tactic. Is it really so hard to be honest about your methods?

      Gutless fucks, every last one of you.

    5. Constitution!!!!!!!!!!!!!


      Never mind that this moron’s simply trying to use intimidation to, wait a minute, what is his point? That since it’s legal to open carry an AR15, he’s gonna?      

  3. How mind-blowing would it be to organize armed citizens to show up legally toting guns in public, like these wing-nuts are doing, BUT making a big deal of the fact that they are showing up to DEFEND the president- not trying to intimidate him!

    Organize them in that manner.  Give them T-shirts that say something like “Citizens Presidential Protection Brigade.”  Get to the press and make sure it is THE issue of the day.  

    Fire can be fought with fire!  


    If you want guns in the street, you got em!  Everyone is under the assumption that we need an armed populace to protect ourselves from our government.  Who says we cannot arm ourselves to protect our democratically elected president?  Why can’t we show we would be willing to fight for the President WE democratically, legally elected?  We had our revolution at the ballot box!  Do we now need to take that revolution to the street?

    Crazy escalation?  I prefer to call it the free exercise of my 2nd amendment rights- just like they do!    

      1. Jesus.  The guy with the weapon at the rally (Note to Wabbit, not a machine gun) was over the top.

        But an organized brigade doing a job that’s already being done quite well, and that is also way outside the normal chain of command and use of force protocols?  

        That’s a recipe for a damned Ft. Sumter or Boston Massacre.  

        1. An AR-15 is not a machine gun. It’s a semi-automatic assault rifle. But the point remains, it shoots a lot of bullets, and there’s no reason to bring it.

          1. It looks like the dude’s got a laser reflex sight on it.  Badass.  

            (And that badassitude is clearly what’s at issue here.  It shoots no more bullets than the .22 I used to plunk at targets)

          2. is a fully-automatic weapon that fires 800 rounds per minute, by legal definition a machine gun if converted. Google for instructions, it’s hella easy.

            A law enforcement AR-15 is already fully automatic, and is therefore a machine gun.

              1. …it is well within the realm of possibility that this stupid dude got his directions off of google and did the job.

                The fact is that while we don’t know, it’s perfectly possible.  

        2. Are you scared to “water the tree?”

          Of COURSE it is preposterous!  That is the point!  It is to demonstrate clearly HOW stupid the whole “bringing my gun to a healthcare debate” is!!!

      1. …I also have considered advocating for armed liberals to show up.  But I think it would only serve as an escalation, not much would really be accomplished.

        Especially if we all wore Che Guevara tee shirts and black berets 🙂

  4. …this is why these Gundamentalists feel they should bring their weapons to this event – “purely” to demonstrate their right to bear arms.

    I say let the nutbags bring their weapons to these things. I might just show up with some enlistment paperwork for the US Army or USMC, and tell them about a job where they’ll not only be carrying a rifle 24-7, they’ll get ample opportunity to use them.

    1.    Remember Timothy McVeigh was a staunch conservative who was against Big Government and a big defender of Second Amendment rights.

        And remember those wing nuts called the Free Men in Montana in the mid 90’s?  Charlie “Auditory Hallucinations” Duke went up there to try to negotiate an end to a stand-off which looked like it would be a rerun of David Korash’s bonfire in Wacco.

        And David Korash, another solid Christian conservative simply trying to practice his religion and defend his Second Amendment rights.

  5. Guess this macho guy is afraid of something or he wouldn’t feel the need to walk around with a rifle slung over his shoulder. His puny brain can’t handle things and physically he feels he needs to be able to intimidate anyone who disagrees with his views.

    It might be his right to bear arms, but usually people don’t take assault rifles to political rallies unless they are deathly afraid of what’s being said, and unable to form coherent thoughts – so they need to be able to shoot at what they cannot comprehend. What kind of threat is going to arise to this nut that he needs a rifle to deal with?

    They bring guns because Obama is “different.” He has a funny name they don’t understand. He has dark skin that they don’t understand. He wants to do things (like change healthcare for the better) that they don’t understand. And what they don’t understand, they don’t like. What they don’t like, they want to destroy.  

    1. They bring guns because Obama is “different.” He has a funny name they don’t understand. He has dark skin that they don’t understand.

      Gladney:  Not white.  The guy above:  Not white.  Is this continued insistence that all conservatives are only mad that the government’s doing un-conservative things because they’re racist really necessary?  Is it too much to ask that you, I don’t know, suggest we’re mad because we disagree with the un-conservative?  

      1. We don’t need to revisit the 2008 campaign footage, do we?

        That said, I agree that it’s cheap, knee-jerk reaction to just assume that they’re all racist. They weren’t racist when they pulled this sort of crap with Clinton.

        1. “We’re not all racists.”

          They just don’t like the feeling they’re losing control of their America. It’d be the same if Hillary had won. It doesn’t make them any less a pack of scared adolescents watching their God-given entitlements slip away.

          1. It would be the same response from the right if a fruit bowl that ran as a democrat won the presidency!

            They did the same thing to Clinton!  Remember how the right complained that Clinton had changed the stars and stripes because the blue in the flag was “too dark blue?”

            This country is on the verge of ripping apart at the seams…  We won’t see our 300th birthday.  America won’t make it to it’s 250…

            Just another fading empire…

      1. .

        In my version, a guy who opposed the open carry culture brought an unloaded shotgun to a city council meeting to shake up the gun rights proponents on council who didn’t understand the repercussions.

        Council got a policeman to ask him to disassemble the weapon while he sat in chambers.  

        But I think I could still bring a gun open carry to a council meeting today.


  6. Are they saying “Hey, check it out, we have guns. Just so you know…”?

    We have guns too.

    All I know is that if the SEIU were doing this, we would never hear the end of it about how they’re thugs and it’s intimidation. A bunch of wingers do it, and it’s just people exercising their 2nd amendment rights.

  7. to get the boys from Operation Yellow Elephant involved. (All you tough guy neocons should google them.) Maybe zach lahn can be your top recruit.

    Operations are on going in both Afghanistan and Iraq. There is a serious need to relieve the stress on the US Army/United States Marine Corps personnel, some of whom are on 5th or 6th deployment.

    These kill ’em all stateside commandos probably would jump at the chance to enlist, and go show the world American democracy, red style. Or would they?

    Didn’t think so. This isn’t THAT important.

    The shitbag with the AR15 apparently wasn’t completely delusional. After his moment in the spotlight, he did kind of shrink back, realizing actions have consequences. No name. But this creep has no compunction doing this, knowing it’s highly possible the President’s children could somehow be subjected to the visual of crackpots showing up armed at an event their dad is going to. What a complete and total asswipe this guy is.

    The situation is now at a point where clusterfox needs to call of the canines. Stop blowing the dog whistle. If they don’t, I seriously fear some right wing loon is gonna pull a Mcveigh. reds, conserves, republicans and neocons need to settle down, let the process work. There’ll either be a bill or there won’t be. But reds need to realize this is the United States of America.  That democracy doesn’t mean you get to change the rules if you lose.

    And it’s time for the young people to jump into this. The vast majority of conserve wingnuts are old. Selfish. Ignorant. The future doesn’t belong to them. It belongs to the young.  

  8. I didn’t see a mention here about what is, to me, the most obvious question.

    It seems that if you look crosswise at the prez, you’re hogtied.  Throw a box of teabags over the WH fence, ZAP!

    But carry a gun like this to within line of sight of president and it isn’t an issue?

    What part of logic am I missing?  

    1. the Secret Service officer made that clear in the article. Not line of sight. Not even close.

      He did say, however, that they pay extra special attention to the people who choose to open carry.

      1. is that if you have enough gun nuts openly carrying that they start distracting police and Secret Service, it makes it easier for their gun nut friends to slip in and actually shoot someone.

        1. One week Prior to the assasination of President Kennedy, there were incidents in Miami that definately used up Secret Service personnel and muddied the waters.

          This is bad, and anyone that condones it is culpable.

          Reds, you lost. Get over it. Get a candidate, come up with ideas that will win elections. The tail waggin’ the dog never works.

        2. Folks, understand that the Secret Service on Pres. Protection Duty are no-bullshit, no-humor 100% stone-cold killers.

          They stage exercises with actors to train for almost every possibility..some that you might find downroght wacky.  Here –

          My personal experiences with the No-bullshit Secret Service.

          1)President Clinton is due to land at March AFB in California (my duty station at AFRTS-BC) One GS employee, a disabled vet who was a staunch anti-govt Nutjob Neocon, was talking to a fellow anti-govt nutjob Federal employee, and stated that he was mad that Clinton was forcing the closure of the base, which would make him miss lunch, which was why he hoped someone would hurry up an kill him. Less than half an hour later, the MEN WITH DARK SUITS comes to his desk, and asks him to step away from his desk. He was grilled by the Secret Service for a while and eventually released.

          2) Clinton is at SHAPE HQ in Belgium, and the AFN newscrew is there to cover it for the network. A Military Journalist is setting up in the hanger, when the Secret Service start taping off an area with white duct tape. We all have the proper credentials, and are allowed to stay. When they finish, they tell us that deadly force is authorized if ANYONE crosses the white line. The journalist (the dumbass he is) smiles, walks over to the line, raises his foot, and says “so if I do this you’ll…” and does not finish his sentence before the Agent in front of him has pulled out his 9mm with one hand, grabbed him with the other, expertly flipped him to the ground and sticks the pistol somewhat into one nostril. He waits a beat, and say “Yes, I will shoot you. Repeatedly.”

          I actually hope one of these Gundamentalists takes a step too close to the White Line. They won’t be able to identify the remains with Dental records.

      1. been lurking, but not being an active participant for a while.  

        Seems this site has gotten a bit heated since I left.

        Denver Broncos… Still Suck!

              1. I chose this moniker years ago just to piss people off.  First time anyone has called me on it.

                Somebody else had a red wings handle, so I figured this one would be fun, and contentious a couple of times a year.

                I am serious when I say…

                Denver Broncos…. Still Suck!

  9. These guys are trying to send a message… “Fear Us”  

    I think they want to discourage people who don’t agree with them from going to express their opinions (I’m sure there aren’t many people who wouldn’t think twice about going somewhere where there are angry people with guns who disagree with them.)

    I do believe it is actually a threat:  “If you do not agree with us, we can kill you.”

  10. I said this earlier and I’ll repeat it here, there is no reason to carry a firearm to a political event and even less reason to carry one anywhere near the President.  All you have to do is make one mistake, and as SSG_Dan said above, the Secret Service will kill you and have no regrets.  If something like that happens I will shed no tears.

    Yelling, shouting, and carrying signs have all been part of political debate from the start in this country. But firearms are not and should not be displayed as a political show of force.  I don’t blame any on the left here for being disturbed by this, just because something is legal to do does not make it smart.  These guys are perfectly within their rights to show up with their firearms, but the message they send (either intentionally or not) is not one I would agree with.

    And I do worry about escalation.  If you get two groups of people, engaged in heated debate, carrying firearms, the odds of something bad starting in this country go up.  No one sane wants that to happen.

    1. Even though some GOP’ers (here and elsewhere) have been dumb enough to defend and chest-thump over it.

      It’s clear that these people are (a) militia sympathizers from Timothy McVeigh cuckoo land, (b) not playing with a full deck, and (c) so politically ignorant that they can’t distinguish representative government from British occupation in their rhetoric.

      Here’s an unsurprising headling:

      AZ Gun-Toters Tied to Violent 90s Era Militia

      1. The really loony nuts identify with whichever party is in the opposition.

        The difference is that we ignore them, whereas mainstream Republicans like Dick Armey feed their conspiracy theories like swine flu is a government hoax to gain control over people.

    2. …and I carry every day.  It’s a mindset.  It’s not funny to act like a badass with a gun.

      What we’re taught (and teach) is that by the time a civilian pulls a gun, they must have already made the decision that they must use deadly force.  Pulling a weapon to ‘scare’ someone puts you immediately on the wrong side of the law.

      You have to already know that you are facing death or deadly threat so someone around you in order to justify using the weapon.

      This brazen, asshole, creepy carrying crap near the President is a disgrace.

      Now, do we know for certain that this particular guy was anti-healthcare?

      The video I saw from CNN showed him surrounded by pro folks, and not in a confrontational way.  I’m just saying it’s possible that this idiot might be more of a gun ass than an anti-Obamacare ass.

    3. I’m worried that these idiots could make a case to bring back a push from Democrats for much stricter gun control laws.

      That’s a real possibility if one of them shoots someone–even by accident–or God forbid, kills someone.

      If the GOP truly cares about gun rights, they had better start repeating what you said ad nauseum. That goes for the NRA too.

      Excellent post.

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