At a press conference on Monday, Dr. Peter N. Steinmetz, the physician who was arrested at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport while openly carrying a rifle, issued the following statement [paragraphs added]:
“I consider myself to be a freedom activist, a man of peace and a responsible American citizen. I fully respect the rule of law and have complied with it my entire life. I am also an educated and responsible gun owner who has earned the legal right to have a concealed weapons permit . . .
I have received extensive training in the safe handling of firearms as well as the substantial legal responsibilities that accompany firearms ownership. I enthusiastically support the rights of my fellow Americans to peacefully and responsibly keep and bear arms. I also strongly oppose the irresponsible use of firearms by anyone. I take my constitutional rights and the constitutional rights of all people very seriously, and I believe those rights need to be exercised and protected or they will be lost.
I am a peaceful political activist, and my purpose in walking around the airport with my AR-15 rifle was entirely political in nature. Put simply, I decided to make the point that a peaceful citizen can openly and responsibly carry a firearm – including an AR-15 – for the protection of themselves and their community. I wanted to help educate the public and employees at the airport on this point by allowing them to observe a peaceful person responsibly carrying an AR-15 while doing things that people normally do there, like waiting and drinking a coffee.
I chose to make this lawful political demonstration at the airport because there are few places in our society where the contrast between our liberties and their erosion is so stark. On the one side of a line on the floor, in the shopping area, we are relatively free, and can safely keep and bear arms. On the other side of that line we have the TSA, a large federal bureaucracy which completely disarms people and subjects them to gross invasions of their privacy, simply because those people want to travel somewhere. As I was making this political statement, I was careful not to disturb or endanger anyone.
Indeed, I was never aware of any person being disturbed in any way. At all times I was extremely careful to ensure my firearm was never pointed at anyone. In addition to carefully handling my firearm, the safety was engaged at all times. I have no plans to repeat this demonstration as I believe I have now made the important point that peaceful and responsible people can safely be trusted to handle firearms, even AR-15’s, even at the airport. There is never anything to fear from peaceful responsible gun owners. That is all I have to say.”
This answers many questions that have been asked over the last few days since the security video emerged and disorderly conduct charges against him were dropped. The right to peaceably protest is one of the most cherished rights of the American people, as is the right to keep and bear arms. Open carry demonstrations are some of the most peaceful in America. There haven’t been any smashed windows, thrown stones, gasoline bombs, or blocked streets as people have so commonly seen at other demonstrations.
©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Gun Watch