The National Rifle Association and its elected allies seem to think that [open carry at protests] should be the new normal. They want civilians armed to the teeth in state after state, city after city. As awful as that prospect might be, it is nonetheless gaining traction. Twenty-one states now allow the open and concealed carry of firearms without a permit — a status that gun activists call “constitutional carry.” Six states joined that list this year, most recently Texas in September (despite a majority of residents opposing the legislation).
Absent government intervention, this trend suggests that more incidents like Kenosha are all but inevitable. Authorities need to recognize that protests are an inherently charged situation, and that armed citizens are a threat to the First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly they’re meant to express. State and local governments have many options for restricting firearms at demonstrations that are perfectly compatible with the Second Amendment, including enforcing existing laws against intimidation and menacing, prohibiting armed militias from attending such events, and banning open carry at sensitive places.
They should do everything in their power to enact commonsense reforms — before the next protest leads to the next round of needless bloodshed.