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“In a 1992 case called Burson v. Freeman, the Supreme Court held that the states have a compelling interest in preventing voter fraud and intimidation, an interest they can protect by limiting political speech in the final moments before a vote is cast. Against this constitutional backdrop, a symbolic speech argument—featuring the demonstration of a love of guns—is unlikely to fare well. There’s ample legal precedent for considering the polls sacrosanct. How that sanctity affects the right to carry a gun may be a question coming to a court near you in 2017.” – Dahlia Lithwick and Raymod Vasvari in Can You Carry a Gun to a Polling Place? [via]


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  1. Guns at polling station = bad

    Black Panthers with baseball bats threatening violence if you don’t vote for Obama = good

    • Black Panthers bring bats, we bring our guns(concealed). They get froggy, we drop them. They don’t start none, won’t be none. Seems simple.

    • Carrying a gun into a polling place = too free.

      Carrying a little piece of laminated paper that says “drivers license” into a polling place = Rights infringed.

      The evil (D) waste bus gas if people have to prove who they are at polls.

      (D) voters should be forced to wear t-shirts (whatever the weather) that say:

      AND 14 DEAD GUYS”

  2. But, but, but ….. If menacing white voters with a club while hurling vile racial epithets at them isn’t voter intimidation, how is merely wearing a handgun openly with no threats made voter intimidation? Now I’m all confused …..

    • What’s the modern way to infringe on civil rights? Simply, find that the almighty STATE has a ‘compelling interest’ in doing so. And, that can be almost anything the STATE wants it to be since the judges interpreting the laws are agents of the STATE.

    • The righteous response is that we must correct the tyrants.

      The really interesting question is what actions are necessary to actually correct them? Does it require a simple verbal discussion to illustrate the error of their ways? Does it require prosecuting them for violating our rights? Does it require other incentives to correct their ways?

      • I have this wonderful coffee table book called “NAM”. Theres a page I’ll probably flip to in few minutes that talks about the South Korean involvement in the war. One particular part, talks about how the ROK soldiers viewed the VC and other reds: “You can re-educate a communist” is roughly the quote in there.

        • Taylor TX,

          “You can re-educate a communist”.

          In that quote did you mean to say “can” or “cannot”?

        • Funny. My first thought was to capture them, tie them up, and leave them in a room with “Bubba.”

        • Others will just take their place.

          The only way to avoid being governed, is to be literally ungovernable. Be as costly as possible to anyone wising to rule you (Bleed the Beast), and generate as little surplus for them to steal as possible. There may be other means of achieving that state, but for now, the most illustrious examples are the Afghans. Nobody wants to stick around there and attempt to subjugate and govern those guys for long. As there’s nothing of value to gain, and they have managed to evolve a culture that makes them insanely expensive to attempt to govern.

  3. Ample comments will refer to Black Panther threats during the 2008/2012 elections. I see those as local policing problems.

    The trouble with OCing is that it becomes a perceived threat to safe exercise of the anonymous vote. Of course, if I had my druthers, photographs and other recordings of your ballot would also be prohibited (see New Hampshire).

    CC within 100 feet of a polling place, there should be no requirement that you disarm, but resolves the he said she said of drawing focus to the firearm and leaves everybody unhappy. If it’s a long gun you can’t conceal, my guess is you were using it as a politicking and electioneering device anyway.

    • The only reason “long guns” are considered a threat, is that they are not sufficiently commonly seen. If everyone carried a rifle, every truck had a belt gun in the bed and every rooftop had anti air defenses, hysterics would have to find something else to get all tied in a knot over.

  4. Until they can keep the dead and illegals from voting the polls and any election for that matter is far from sacrosanct.

  5. “There’s ample precedent for considering the polls sacrosanct.”

    Yet court after court rules that requesting a voter prove he/she is a citizen, by providing identification , is a big no-no……, so much for sacrosanct……

  6. I am going to have to say that prohibitions on “free speech” in a voting booth are proper. How far beyond the voting booth are “free speech” prohibitions proper? Good question. I like the idea of 50 feet or so.

    The objective of “free speech” is a right to speak about and advocate for private and public policy. As with all other rights, our right to do something ends at another person’s nose. That means our right to “free speech” does not empower us to directly disrupt someone’s exercise of their rights, such as voting.

    Speak about private and public policy all you want, anywhere you want, any time you want, as long as your voice and presence do not directly interfere with another person’s lawful activities.

    As for voters or observers being armed at voting locations, they are good to go as long as they do not directly interfere with another person’s exercise of their rights.

    • Historically, that was the problem in the Jim Crow south, where good old boys would stand around polling places all day with their shotguns in order to intimidate blacks into not voting. This too was the root of laws requiring that no politicking take place within X feet of a polling place, as voter intimidation, particularly where a “candidate” had a very serious interest in being re-elected, were the cause of threats, guns, clubs, and of course violence. This occurred everywhere, not just the south, but Tameny Hall. There were also historic laws banning drinking between certain hours on election day, as it was a common practice to buy votes with alcohol.

  7. I think that open carry is generally counterproductive except in hunting/wilderness situations, but perhaps especially so at polling places. The fact that you can openly carry a firearm at most polling places (mine is in a school, so I can’t carry there anyway), does not mean that as a matter of political persuasion, you should openly carry there.

    First of all, I assume that the ballot is still secret and that no one, pro- or anti-gun is going to know what candidates any given voter has chosen unless the voter discloses it. If you don’t believe that, then there are bigger problems than I wish to address here.

    Communication is a two-way process, and the message received is not necessarily the message intended. Who are you trying to persuade, and what are you trying to persuade them of? Presuming that the intended message is something along the lines of “I/we have the right to do this, and I am doing it to demonstrate that I know and appreciate that I have the right, no matter what others may think,” there is still the question of what the message is perceived to be.

    If the viewer is someone like me, I’m not really all that concerned with the fact that someone is carrying at a polling place; depending on what is in the holster or on the sling, I might comment to myself about the firearm, or maybe even approach the carrier and ask about it.

    However, other viewers/voters may perceive the situation differentlty: Legally, as long as no one is actually brandishing a firearm or making threats, the charge of voter intimidation is frivolous, but people who feel intimidated by the mere presence of a firearm are unlikely to be voting for gun-friendly candidates, anyway, so for purposes of persuasion, it really does not matter what they perceive the message to be. If the goal of carrying a firearm at the polling place is to stick a thumb in the eye of those voters, then that is probably a highly successful technique.

    But a thumb in the eye does not generally translate into new votes for our position; it simply confirms the perception of anti-gun voters that there is just something wrong with “those people” and gives them more material for their propaganda machine.

    Somewhere in the middle, there are people who might be persuaded to vote for gun-friendly candidates. How is the presence of someone open-carrying likely to affect that decision? I suggest that it is more likely to discourage gun-friendly votes than to encourage them. That is because, in my opinion, there are very few people (1) that are on the fence on these matters and (2) who are going to look a the guy with a slung rifle outside a polling place and say to themselves, “Well, that’s really cool, I think I will go in and vote for a pro-gun candidate.”

    I think that there are more who will look at the open-carrier and think that the “statement” is just a little overboard considering where it is made and walk into the polling place with a somewhat more negative perception of people of the gun and somewhat less likely to vote for gun-friendly candidates.

    If you want to use firearms convert people to pro-firearms positions, take them to the range. If you want to convert people to pro-firearms positions near the polling places, do what everyone else does, engage them in conversation, give them a sample ballot, tell them to have a nice day. In my state, you can’t actively campaign for a candidate within 100 feet of a polling place, so the sample ballot is basically all you can do.

    • Maybe he should start with a truthfulness test on the stupid things he says like “it’s easier to get a gun than a book” or “you can keep your doctor.”

  8. It’s understandable why Democrats would be against voters open carrying in the polling places.

    Border jumpers cannot legally carry in most states, but they do vote Democrat.

    The dead don’t need to carry, but they do vote Democrat.

    Preternaturally stupid people should not carry, but they do vote Democrat.

  9. There seem to be many comments here that accept the assumption that carrying a firearm at a polling place is only an act of attempted political speech, persuasion, or intimidation.

    This assumption is specious. Carrying a firearm – anywhere and at any time – is first and foremost more than an act of exercising the right to protect one’s life.

    Absent additional context (e.g. a firearms-related ballot initiative) or additional political speech (e.g. clothing or paraphernalia supporting some candidate or party), there is simply no way to claim that the mere presence of a carried firearm is intended to express, persuade, or intimidate any particular voter action.

    • Fair enough point, although I think it is perhaps a little strong calling the assumption “specious”.

      I think that given the context of this presidential election, firearms being a significant point of contention, that some number of open-carriers would in fact be making a political statement. The context you request is present. One candidate says the NRA is her enemy, the other embraces the NRA.

      I certainly agree with the point that carrying a firearm is first and foremost about exercising one’s right to protect one’s life. Now, I understand that there are many who want to be prepared for all eventualities at all times, and that there is some possibility that some polling place somewhere could be the subject of a terrorist attack that would require the use of a rifle to suppress, and my J-frame revolver is simply not going to be up to the job. They have a right to carry what they wish to be prepared for that. But the chances are vanishingly small that it will happen anywhere, let alone at my polling place. I am more likely to be struck by lightning or a car on my way to vote.

      Given the context of this election, carrying openly at a polling place really is a political statement, OR WILL BE PRESUMED TO BE ONE by at least some observers. The second point is one that should not be overlooked. If a persuadable voter comes to the polls, looks at an open carrier, and gets turned off to second amendment issues, we have lost a potential ally. As I said in my post above, I don’t think that very many undecided voters are going to look at open carriers at a polling place and suddenly have an epiphany that they should become strong Second Amendment voters — I think the opposite is more likely. Sometimes you can be political without intending to be. Sometimes someone else decides to use your actions for political purposes even though you don’t want them to be, and sometimes those people successfully persuade people that your position is the wrong position. Every vote counts. We don’t need to alienate potential alllies. if you want to protect yourself on election day, then carry concealed.

  10. I guess it depends on your state. I CCWed for the 2014 election and it was totally legal.

    Of course Colorado has now gone to all mail-in/drop off ballots so it no longer matters.

  11. Good grief! Such bloviating gas bags. You may not agree with open carrying, or see it as a nuisance that feeds the anti’s, but for frank’s sake, let’s not further devolve into a legal morass that results always in further restrictions of our rights as a country.

    Oh wait,… that’s right. The bringing of lawsuits against ideas you don’t like is the last vestige of America left.

    I want a class action lawsuit that charges the entirety of the governments of all the states of the union, and the federal government with collective doodyheadedness (I know, that’s a fake word, please refrain from laughing at me until I leave this paragraph), and I want the ending of all gun control legislation, I want a #4 special from Del Taco, and a strawberry shake. Anyone else ordering?


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