Tonight on @wbaltv11: A man with an AR-15 has been showing up for weeks to a school bus drop off for local elementary school students.
Parents say their kids are afraid, the man says he’s protesting @GovWesMoore’s new gun control law. You’ll hear from both sides at 5+6pm. pic.twitter.com/rpdJXAkVh4
— Tolly Taylor (@TollyTaylor) May 18, 2023
What’s so unsettling about this Maryland incident, though, is that the adoption of a neutral stance [by reporters] legitimizes antisocial behavior and presents it as a fair form of “protest.” This guy does not have to point the gun at anyone for it to serve its purpose. This has been a steadily expanding problem throughout the country, as right-wingers show up heavily armed to statehouses in an explicit communication of the threat of deadly force if they do not get their way on matters of public policy.
This is not normal political expression, just as breaking windows and vandalizing businesses is not a legitimate form of protest against police violence and racial injustice in our society. The fact is that certain things are out of bounds, and we’re really arguing over where the line should be. This guy’s conduct is on the far side of the line. He is leaving the realm of civil disagreement and discussion and entering a gray area where the potential for deadly violence is implied.
What we’re really reluctant to confront, however, is that there is a sizable faction in America who continually make explicit threats to engage in violence if the government—elected by the people to make public policy—makes public policy that they and their faction do not like. They brandish their weapons during these discussions, physically or rhetorically, and they’re never more aggressive than when anyone suggests that Thomas Jefferson did not envision an inalienable right to carry an AR-15 into Chipotle.
It’s not hard to put all this together, particularly if you’re a reporter, but it’s scary to confront the fact that there’s a segment of the American population dedicated to the proliferation of deadly weapons—more guns, everywhere, all the time—and threatening to use the ones they already have if they don’t get their way. Easier, then, to stand to the side and offer the View From Nowhere, where every side has a case worth hearing.
— Jack Holmes in We Don’t Have to Accept Antisocial Gun Behavior Just Because the Guy Says It’s a Political Protest
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