Mike the Mad Biologist

If you’re wondering who Arthur Frommer is, he’s the chief author of Frommer’s Travel Guides, which can be found at virtually every U.S. bookstore. So when Frommer argues that people should reconsider visiting Arizona, that’s not definitely good for Arizona’s tourism sector. But Frommer’s reasons are…interesting (italics mine):

I am not yet certain whether I would advocate a travel boycott by others of the state of Arizona… But I am shocked beyond measure by reports that earlier this week, nearly a dozen persons, including one with an assault rifle strapped about his shoulders and others with pistols in their hands or holsters, were openly congregating outside a hall at which President Obama was speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

For myself, without yet suggesting that others follow me in an open boycott, I will not personally travel in a state where civilians carry loaded weapons onto the sidewalks and as a means of political protest. I not only believe such practices are a threat to the future of our democracy, but I am firmly convinced that they would also endanger my own personal safety there. And therefore I will cancel any plans to vacation or otherwise visit in Arizona until I learn more. And I will begin thinking about whether tourists should safeguard themselves by avoiding stays in Arizona….

I would feel as I do regardless of the political identity of the speaker whom these thugs attempted to intimidate. The continued tolerance of extremists carrying guns is a frightening development which strikes at the heart of the political process and endangers the ability to carry out a reasoned debate. Is there any responsible citizen of the United States who believes that people should carry guns to a public debate or speech? If Ronald Reagan were delivering a political talk in Phoenix, Arizona, would they have felt it was proper for protestors with guns to mill about outside the hall from which he would leave?

I’ll leave it to you in the comments to debate if Frommer’s right. But what occurs to me is that the same sort of comments could have been made–and to the best of my knowledge, were not made–regarding the segregationist South. And there, there wasn’t the threat of political violence, there was political violence, including murder.

Of course, maybe if more people had said something sooner….

Comments

  1. #1 Mike H
    August 25, 2009

    Nearly 40 states allow open carry in some capacity.

    What a pussy.

  2. #2 JohnV
    August 25, 2009

    While I admit that he’s being a little melodramatic (or a lot), in how many of those 40 states do we see people utilizing their open carry abilities to intimidate political opposition and erode our democracy?

  3. #3 Eamon
    August 25, 2009

    What’s the old saying…

    …Never argue with a man holding a gun.

    Democrazy, Arizona style.

  4. #4 Eric Lund
    August 25, 2009

    It’s not a question of open carry laws, it’s a question of culture. Most states allow hunting, at least part of the year, in most sufficiently rural areas, which is why they tend not to ban open carrying of firearms. But you don’t find posses with loaded guns at political rallies in most places, either. Arizona still has the “wild west” gun culture that leads people to carry at rallies. Eastern states generally do not (Kostric, the guy with the gun at the New Hampshire town hall, is a recent transplant from Arizona, and he was by himself). The other guy who brought a loaded gun (which he left in his truck–carrying a loaded weapon in a motor vehicle in New Hampshire requires a license, which he didn’t have) to the New Hampshire town hall is in jail without bond, as he should be.

    That being said, the armed protesters in Arizona were being stupid, and Frommer is right to fear them for this reason. Rule #1 of firearm safety: never point a gun at anything you do not intend to shoot. Sooner or later one of these brainiacs will, whether accidentally or on purpose, shoot somebody, who might be an innocent bystander or even one of his mates.

  5. #5 Joshua
    August 25, 2009

    What blows my mind is that the cops on the scene aren’t doing a goddamned thing. Look at the G8 protests, or any other fucking left-wing protest in the past… 100 years?

    A liberal protester shows up with a strongly-worded sign, and he gets tear gassed and beaten with riot batons. A conservative protester shows up with a handgun, a fucking deadly weapon, and nothing happens. Carry on, sir, you’re a paragon of democracy.

    IOKYAR.

  6. #6 Phillip IV
    August 25, 2009

    I think it’s a very necessary discussion, and we shouldn’t allow it to get derailed into another installment of the perennial gun rights debate.

    In Ancient Rome, no weapons were allowed to be carried within the Inner City, its political center – yet the Roman Republic in its waning years was plagued by political violence enacted by partisan mobs wielding rocks and table legs.

    So the real question is, where and how does a society draw a line between legitimate dissent, articulated forcefully, and attempts to break down the political process as such – and if it doesn’t draw such a line, is it in danger to go the way of the Roman Republic? A lone, AR-15 wielding nutter might not be more than a minor disturbance, but what if a hundred armed militiamen show up at such an event – fully within their constitutionally protected rights to run around armed to the teeth and in camouflage fetish wear – would there be any question that that would constitute an attempt at intimidation? This discussion should not be about individual rights, but about preserving the functioning of democracy.

    On a sidenote, it was fun to see how some of the same people who cried “voter intimidation” over two black guys hanging out in the vicinity of a polling station last year jumped to the defense of the (admittedly equally black) guy bringing his rifle to an Obama event.

  7. #7 Roadtripper
    August 25, 2009

    There were relatively few arrests for ‘disorderly conduct’ or ‘disturbing the peace’ when anti-health care protesters disrupted town hall meetings by shouting everyone down. This inaction on the part of the police, I believe, encouraged these morons to escalate their protests to new heights of outrageous behavior.

    The strange thing is, in any other situation, anyone who so much as looks sideways at the cops gets busted for ‘disorderly conduct.’ (Disorderly = anything the cops don’t like.)

    So why are the police sitting on their hands and letting protesters illegally shut down health care-related meetings? The answer is painfully obvious: you don’t see a lot of uninsured cops working at these things. Guess whose side they’re on?

    Rt

  8. #8 Troublesome Frog
    August 25, 2009

    A liberal protester shows up with a strongly-worded sign, and he gets tear gassed and beaten with riot batons. A conservative protester shows up with a handgun, a fucking deadly weapon, and nothing happens.

    I think that the obvious lesson in all of this is that you can be as big an asshole as you want if you’re well armed enough.

    Is that not a good lesson for political events?

  9. #9 Matt Springer
    August 25, 2009

    @#5: [citation needed]

    More generally, I make no apologies for being a rabid reactionary and a pro-gun enthusiast. However, I also think it’s a tremendous shame that gun rights are currently thought of on conservative/liberal lines. I would be absolutely thrilled if more people on the left decided to become responsible gun owners. It would be a Good Thing. Heck, wasn’t it less than a year ago we lived under the Bush administration, which was hell-bent on imposing theocratic tyranny on everyone? Wouldn’t it have been a good idea to have the means to prevent his trying such a thing, if needed? Or simply for the self-defense rights of the disadvantaged?

    I should also say that I think it’s in general a bad idea to open carry, as it’s not likely to win over hearts and minds no matter how safe and responsible you are. I support the right to do so, but I wouldn’t actually do it.

  10. #10 Jim Thomerson
    August 25, 2009

    I was looking at travel guides in a bookstore. Noted that there were none for Venezuela or Colombia. I think I have old copies of both around the house someplace.

  11. #11 Mike Stollenwerk
    August 25, 2009

    Only 7 states ban open carry and most states require no license to open carry holstered handguns.

    See also http://www.examiner.com/x-2782-DC-Gun-Rights-Examiner~y2009m8d23-Arthur-Frommer-needs-to-get-out-more

  12. #12 Steven
    August 25, 2009

    I AM A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER IN ARIZONA:

    Gun rights and open carry are legal rights that are protected by the U.S. Constitution and not granted or denied by the government, period! It’s not Republican, conservative or Democrat issue, it’s an American issue with rights. There were several hundred attendees and protesters around those 12 openly carrying. Take a good and educated guess as to how many were carrying concealed weapons?

    As a law enforcement officer, I support the right of any peaceable citizen to carry a firearm open or concealed.

    The bottom line is, if you don’t like it, stay away from this State. If you are a liberal do gooder, we don’t want you or your kind here anyway.

  13. #13 Matt Springer
    August 25, 2009

    Earlier today there was a health care reform protest in Arizona. The one person open carrying was a supporter of the Obama plan. Good for him!

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32525040/ns/local_news-phoenix_az/

  14. #14 Eamon
    August 25, 2009

    @12

    The bottom line is, if you don’t like it, stay away from this State. If you are a liberal do gooder, we don’t want you or your kind here anyway.

    Ah, the Untied States of America…

  15. #15 Dunc
    August 26, 2009

    You heard it hear first folks: if you consider yourself a liberal, you’re not welcome in Arizona, according to Steven the law enforcement officer. Thanks for letting us know, Steven. I really hope you don’t have any responsibility for public relations.

  16. #16 JohnV
    August 26, 2009

    Nice post, Steven the law enforcement officer. You’ve really convinced me that people parading around with firearms at a political rally is all about their second amendment rights and not about the suppression of other people’s rights (whether they are for or against the political issue at hand).

    Oh wait no I mean the exact opposite with that little bit of fascism at the end. Nicely done.

  17. #17 Gerry
    August 27, 2009

    Ha ha, Steven the “L.E.O.” is a fool and most likely a fraud. Arizona is a hole and I wouldn’t visit that racist state (remember MLK Day!)with my expendable income with or without Frommer’s advice.

    If they want to wallow in their ignorance, fear, and paranoia, have at it. Just remember, the dis-invitation extends to you gun nuts in the civilized states.

  18. #18 Dr. Shrinker
    August 27, 2009

    People keep asking and yet I don’t seem to find an answer anywhere: When Dubya was president, people got thrown out of events, even arrested for wearing critical t-shirts! Peaceful, non-armed protesters were kept in holding pens, I mean “protest zones” blocks away from the actual Republican convention. And yet armed nutjobs are allowed right outside the venue where the president is speaking? Does this mean the Secret Service has a double standard? If I was Obama, I’d consider hiring my own bodyguards…

  19. #19 Dr. Shrinker
    August 27, 2009

    Oh, and also, I did vacation in Arizona this summer. Other than the spectacular Grand Canyon, it’s mostly dirt and rocks. Eminently skippable.