Well, we know what Oberlin, Ohio reverend David Hill’s afraid of: open carry demonstrators. “Last September the City of Oberlin was the target of open-carry demonstrations,” Hill begins at cleveland.com, deliberately using the word “target” to pour gasoline on troubled waters. “Folks from out of town arrived brandishing their weapons in protest of Oberlin’s local ordinances that prohibited firearms in its parks.” Out-of-towners! Brandishing weapons! Hide your children! And lo, it did come to pass . . .
A usually busy playground was oddly silent except for a couple of kids associated with the gun folks. I watched as a father strapped some sort of gun to a kid’s thigh and then sent him off to play on the swing.
WHAT? An open carry demonstrator strapped a real gun to a kid’s thigh and sent him off to play? Clearly, not. Clearly, Reverend Hill is a troublemaker of the worst sort: the kind who uses half-truths and innuendo to smear the motives and actions of those who don’t share his distaste for Americans’ exercising their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.
A young mother carried around her infant, her handgun openly displayed on her hip just beneath the baby. Other folks with ammunition clips and side arms milled around nearby. It was like a scene out of a post-apocalypse, sci-fi movie where danger lurks around every corner, law enforcement no longer exists, and common life has returned to the days of the Wild West.
Why, that infant could reach down and discharge that firearm! Or, you know, not. As for open carry signaling the end of the world, Arizonans might beg to differ (although it is hot as Hell there this time of year).
All this fuss is not about hunting or target shooting; it is about carrying guns in public as a means of self-defense. Which raises the question: what are these folks so afraid of? Statistically, they place themselves at far greater risk simply getting behind the wheel of a car than anything they are likely to encounter at a Starbucks or Target store . . .
At its heart, the debate over open-carry laws has little to do with Second Amendment rights. It is about the sort of society we wish to bring about and the world in which we wish to live.
Father Hill fails to realize that the Founding Fathers didn’t write the Second Amendment to protect Americans’ ability (right?) to hunt game, punch paper or defend themselves against criminals (although all of those endeavors are givens). They crafted and enacted the Second Amendment as a bulwark against tyranny. Tyranny being a feature of government that tends to obliterate religious freedom and, in most cases, all those who place God before Mammon.
To answer Reverend Hill’s question, open carry advocates demonstrate because they’re afraid of losing their gun rights – and all that would entail. Specifically, the loss of all their other God-given or natural rights. Their right to free speech. Their right to assembly. And again, their right to worship in a time, place and manner of their choosing.
What I glimpsed that Saturday in September was a society where all citizens will be forced to “pack heat”; a world where I will need to strap a bullet-proof vest on my granddaughter before she goes out to play. It is a world mastered by fear and armed to the teeth. The prophet’s vision of beating swords into plowshares, Jesus’ blessing of the peacemakers and God’s command to love our neighbor offer a different vision of community based upon mutual care and trust. The choice is ours.
Do we wish to enmesh ourselves in an ever escalating domestic arms race or can we “lay down our swords and shields” in order to live together in peace.
Open carry demonstrators don’t want to force anyone to “pack heat.” They are not a danger in and of themselves; fellow citizens have no need to tool-up in their presence. As witnessed by the fact that nothing dangerous happened that warm September day – save an anti-gun agitprop photo op for a pro-disarmament man of the cloth.
As for the Rev’s contention that open carry eliminates the possible of mutual care and trust with in a community, I’m confused. Surely open carry demonstrators are demonstrating that they care for their community in the same way that a good shepherd protects his flock against wolves. Armed.
How scary is that, and to whom, exactly?