“Assault Weapons” Excite The Media Once Again

The fact that a very small number of perople attending public gatherings recently have been caught on camera carrying firearms, has driven many in the mainstream media to focus on “assault weapons” being brandished at political events.  One man was caught on camera in Phoeniz, Arizona by at least one national cable outlet with an AR-15 rifle slung over his shoulder on a strap.  The media immediately — and incorrectly — highlighted this as an “assault rifle” being carried outside a building at which President Barack Obama was speaking.

While the national media may delight in highlighting such incidents, including mis-labeling semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 as “assault weapons,” there in fact is nothing illegal about a person openly carrying a firearm at many such public events in many states, including Arizona and Georgia.  If the firearms were fully automatic (as “assault rifles” by definition are), or were being carried by a person already “disabled” under federal law from possessing a firearm, or if there were local or state laws prohibiting such action, then it might warrant a passing reference in the news.  But simply carrying a firearm lawfully under federal and state law, should not be newsworthy.

For those worried about the safety of a president if someone carries a firearms outside a venue where he is speaking, they should consider that anyone openly carrying a firearm anywhere remotely near where a president is located, guarantees such a person will be closely watched by the Secret Service and local law enforcement.  Moreoever, any place at which a “protected person” such as the president is appearing, is very broadly demarcated by the Secret Service, and carrying a firearm inside such perimeter is a serious violation of federal law.

I’m not sure I understand why a person would openly tote a rifle or sidearm at a political rally of any sort, including one at which a president is speaking; other than to just make a point of some sort.  But if the media would simply let it be, and especially if they would stop labelling firearms that are not “assault weapons” as “assault weapons” simply to inflame viewers, we’d all be better off.  But somehow I doubt that will happen.

81 comments Add your comment

Mike Billips

August 21st, 2009
6:36 am

Enter your comments here

Eric

August 21st, 2009
6:44 am

I wish the media would take up the intrusiveness of spy cameras everywhere as equal cause for alarm!

Mike Billips

August 21st, 2009
6:46 am

It’s disingenous to claim that civilian, semi-automatic versions of military assault rifles are not a separate category of firearm than semi-automatic hunting rifles with internal, 3- to 5-round magazines. “Assault weapon” is a somewhat nebulous term that has been used to describe some pistols with large magazines, but in the case of the AR-15 or similar rifles, it’s apt. The functional distinction is the detachable, high-capacity magazine. Someone armed with a rifle that fires a relatively high-powered cartridge like the NATO 5.56mm, with 20 to 30 rounds available and rapid reload capability, is a considerably greater potential threat to life and limb than someone with a pistol. When I was in Iraq, we didn’t consider ourselves armed if we were carrying just an M9, since it won’t defeat soft body armor. A semi-auto AR-15, on the other hand, would be considered a real weapon, since trained troops rarely use full-auto fire with their personal rifles anyway.

John

August 21st, 2009
6:53 am

While I completely agree with Bob’s sentiments, carrying a firearm, openly or concealed, at a politcal rally in Georgia IS against the law as it would be a “public gathering” as vaguely defined by state law. This is a hold over from old Jim Crow laws that sought to disarm blacks. Remember gun control is not about guns, it’s about CONTROL.

Dillard

August 21st, 2009
7:44 am

Hey Bob, I know you’re really suprised that the media is excited about the guy carrying the AR-15 at the rally. Don’t you think though that the reason the guy was caayig teh AR-15 at the rally was to get the media excited? Or do you think he brought for protection from the gun toting liberals?

Yup

August 21st, 2009
7:48 am

Assault weapon? I think that’s just a scary term libs apply to anything they don’t like. I believe I would feel assaulted if shot with any weapon any number of times.
Hey, Mike B. where’s the round cutoff point? 3, 4, 10, 15, 18? How many bullets does it take for my weapon to be magically transformed into an “assault” weapon? The world may never know. By the way, thank you for your service!!

Robb

August 21st, 2009
7:50 am

Bob – of course it is newsworthy. Even in open carry states it is not all that common to see people openly carry. The laws often aren’t understood, even by the best of LEO’s in those states, so it is not uncommon to see people who open carry questioned by police.

I don’t remember ever seeing a rally that any of our presidents in recent memory have held where people showed carrying tactical weapons. Are they well within their rights? Of course. Is it the smartest way to protest? Probably not. The left already paints gun owners as a bunch of dangerous zealots. This just adds fuel to the fire.

dgroy

August 21st, 2009
7:51 am

It’s called “sensationalism” and it’s also part of the “liberal media’s” plan to disarm America. Myself, I would never carry a gun, loaded or unloaded, in a public place; however, if it’s legal it would be my right to do so. The media knows this but, wants to criminalize those that are exercising their constitutional rights, to further their agenda. Folks, exercise your right to vote in 2010, please. Thank you, Bob Barr, a Great American, for your comments on this important topic.

Kevin

August 21st, 2009
8:02 am

I open carried to the Phoenix Obama event but for good reason. I go to many such events to photograph the opposition and I have been assaulted three times in the last two years. I did think about it long and hard and asked my friends before attending the President’s talk at the VFW.

As it turned out, I probably didn’t need it. The Obama supporters where the most well behaved crowd I have ever seen some going as far as asking me to join them. When it comes to events like this my problem is I just can’t see into the future.

What Chris did is just wrong, a weapon is the wrong tool to use to make a political statement.

Davo

August 21st, 2009
8:32 am

Not sure where I saw it, but some Brit was confounded by the fact that Americans put up with crazy, pointless security checkpoints in airports and have nail-clippers taken from them, and in the same country, can tote fireamrs at political events.

It’s a valid concern I think. While I respect the individuals right to express his 2nd amendment rights, I have to believe that a responsible citizen would recognize that such actions do require limits. Shouting fire in a crowded theater is not a 1st amendment right; I would expect there is a similar arguement to be made for the 2nd.

clyde

August 21st, 2009
8:44 am

My first rifle was a 30-40 Krag.Bolt action.Hardly an assault weapon.
I graduated from it to a government issue M1 Garand,supplied by Uncle Sam,then to the new M-14.Inever heard of one of these rifles referred to as an assault weapon even though the M-14 was available in full auto.
The Ruger mini-14 isn’t an assault weapon until you decorate it with a funny stock,as far as I can see and that little weapon is a joy to shoot and will put a lot of lead in the air in a hurry with surprising accuracy.Keep the wood stock on it and it’s a simple hunting rifle.No though of assault.

As a matter of interest,my concealed weapons permit expressly forbids me from carrying a concealed slingshot.This is not a joke.It spells it out in clear english.

jconservative

August 21st, 2009
9:03 am

“Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose…”

From Justics Scalia’s majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller.

Jeff

August 21st, 2009
9:44 am

I’m weird. I just want Taser and other similar non-lethal products to not be considered “firearms”.

For example, if the XREP would become civilian legal, I’d buy a 12 gauge pump action shotgun just to load out with XREP rounds – never have an actual explosive round in there at all.

Wat Tyler

August 21st, 2009
9:49 am

I’m trading in my pitch fork for a firearm.

Narmical

August 21st, 2009
10:00 am

Bob, must i remind you?

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Even suggesting that a person cannot carry a rifle to a political rally with the president there, is infringing the rights to keep and bear arms.

jconservative

August 21st, 2009
10:15 am

Narmical August 21st, 2009 10:00 am
Bob, must i remind you?

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Narmical – See the Supreme Court’s Heller decision. The Court has said that the 2nd Am only applies to the Federal government. It does not apply to the States. To date, the States can regulate to their heart’s content.

From the Heller decision: “…Our later decisions in Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, 265 (1886) and Miller v. Texas, 153 U. S. 535, 538 (1894), reaffirmed that the Second Amendment applies only to the Federal Government.”

Observant

August 21st, 2009
12:03 pm

Bob,

I wonder if he was an ACORN/Obama plant? The poster-child of this current “assault weapon” debate is, after all, African-American. It is possible he acted alone and was just making a statement (agreeing with Kevin), but as much as the Obamanation (Obama’s administration) seems to hate freedom, why not plant the idea in people’s heads about “bad firearms” and stir it up as the next thing for Congress to “go after,” after health care reform has been cramed down our throats of course or as a distraction for a very poor bill. Perhaps ARCON put him there to intimidate non-Obama supporters? It would not be the first time since we have seen Black Panthers at voting centers and SEIU beating people at town halls; African-American as well. Oh well, Kevin’s comments seems to put-to-rest the “ACORN anti-second amendment plant” theory… but what if? Sad to admit it, but having lost all faith and trust in Obama and his administration, I would probably believe the plant idea if someone put it on Fox News ? However, contrary to the far-left’s opinion, people like me would never want to see Obama shot or killed and we pray for him daily! God help us if something happens to him… Biden and Pelosi in charge OMG!

jack

August 21st, 2009
12:54 pm

AR-15 is trash anyway. If they guy wanted to really make a statement, he should have carried a Kalashinikov clone—the preferred weapon of revolutionaries the world over.

DeKalb Conservative

August 21st, 2009
1:23 pm

Bob, you missed a big component of this story. Not to beat a dead horse, but the race issue is being tied into this story alot lately. The irony of the footage you’re likely seeing on TV is that it is zoomed in. The person with the AR-15 was black. Pointing this out merely because I’ve seen so much coverage on these stories of protesters being right wing white extremists.

retiredds

August 21st, 2009
2:11 pm

Oh, that nasty media, mis-labeling a firearm. What a dastardly deed. They should be ashamed of themselves. After all, according to you, Bob, and the NRA, any law abiding citizen should be able to carry a loaded firearm anywhere they want: church, school, public parks, public transportation, coffee shop, restaurant, library,etc. After all why should we let those folks in the Middle East (mostly male I believe) out do us on TV with their “right” to carry automatic weaponry any where they want.

Max

August 21st, 2009
2:27 pm

Seriously? Bob, I normally think of your writing as well thought out – even if I disagree with you.

But, wow.

What would you have said if an anti-war protester had carried an AR-15 that close to George Bush? What would have thought that, while you were in office, one of your vocal political opponents carried an AR-15 to oppose a rally of yours?

You, sir, would have had that person carted away as posing a threat. And rightly so.

Responsible gun ownership is something I support and practice. What was done here is irresponsible and I suspect that you know it.

Jake Jackson

August 21st, 2009
2:47 pm

I think that people showing up with weapons where the president is appearing is newsworthy. The one man spoken of here had no signs and didn’t make political statements. However, others have shown up with guns and slogans, including the one man with a handgun and a signs quoting Jefferson’s statement about “watering the tree of liberty,” a quotation that, as is well known, was a favorite of Timothy McVeigh.

Even without the tee-shirt, isn’t the implied threat fairly clear? No one is going to say outright that he is threatening to use violence–these people have read or been advised of the law, and know just how far they can go. Unless there was an implied threat, why on earth would someone show up at such a meeting where the president was speaking with a serious weapon, whether an assault weapon or not? Just to “exercise a right”?

jim beam

August 21st, 2009
2:59 pm

Well John, from what I see on the news every night, it might be a good idea if blacks were disarmed.

clyde

August 21st, 2009
3:11 pm

Observant,
I like your thought process.I mulled that idea through my mind and finally decided to set it on the shelf.In plain sight,mind. I want to be able to revisit it from time to time.I doubt that the media will dig too far into it though.

WBK

August 21st, 2009
3:13 pm

If I am a member of militia, do I have to have a BB gun to please the liberals? Of course your liberal progressive rights is more important than my 2nd ammendment rights!

I should be able to carry any weapon to any place as a law abiding citizen. However, you liberals want criminalize me for just having a gun. You are the scourge of a free people.

Yup

August 21st, 2009
3:13 pm

Retardds, YES YES YES any law abiding citizen should be able to carry a loaded firearm anywhere they want: church, school, public parks, public transportation, coffee shop, restaurant, library, etc. What’s there to be afraid of?

Do you drive? According to the CDC, “more than 41,000 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes each year, and crash injuries result in about 500,000 hospitalizations and four million emergency department visits annually.” Where’s your silly outrage about this?

Jefferson

August 21st, 2009
3:14 pm

WBK

August 21st, 2009
3:17 pm

Obama is failing! Obama has lied! Obama is worse than George Bush!

ugaaccountant

August 21st, 2009
3:40 pm

I’m glad people continue to fight for our rights to protect ourselves. The supreme court has always been wrong when they try to limit our ability, unless in the case of someone who is already a convicted criminal.

Fang1944

August 21st, 2009
3:56 pm

Gun worshipers love to pontificate about the difference between “automatic” and “semi-automatic” and the exact definition of “assault weapon.”

Nobody with any sense cares about these distinctions.

Richard Poplawski with his semi-automatic was able to kill three policemen and keep several more pinned down for hours. He had the poor cops totally outgunned.

WBK

August 21st, 2009
4:18 pm

Fang1944

August 21st, 2009
3:56 pm
Was he a criminal! He++ he could have had a nuke!

Yankee

August 21st, 2009
4:33 pm

Bob, do you really only have to pay $300.00 a month for health ins? For life?

JF McNamara

August 21st, 2009
4:46 pm

As long as he doesn’t shoot the weapon, who cares. The fact that it was visible underscores the fact that he probably had no harmful intentions. If he really wanted to harm people, he likely would have concealed it and exposed it only upon firing.

Ladysable

August 21st, 2009
4:56 pm

Perhaps the need to carry a weapon at an event that Obama was attending wouldn’t be necessary if ACORN & the SEIC thugs (sent by Obama) weren’t beating up those opposed to the crap called health care reform.

Everyone should have the right to protect themselves, especially from the government issued thugs.

clyde1943

August 21st, 2009
5:22 pm

Fang 1944,
Gun worshipper is another tired label used by the Liberals to denegrate gun owners.I don’t worship anything and that includes guns.I do know a lot about them though.

Justin

August 21st, 2009
5:38 pm

Some of you need a lesson on government

http://www.wimp.com/thegovernment/

Bob, you are a constitutionalist simply put.

Will will uphold individual rights, because that is the only way to stop democratic/elitist tyranny.

This government was built as a Republic, rule by law, with liberty for all, and we must hold on to our rights at all costs.

Insignificant situations do not permit largescale violation of constitutional rights. Without the constitution, our country is nothing. And I am sure you can all see today how our country is turning into a big pile the more the constitution is not upheld.

popseal

August 21st, 2009
7:08 pm

I love it when pacifist cowards and mis-informed morons get wrapped around the axle about guns, except when better law enforcement could have stopped a killing. 20,000+ laws nation wide referring to guns is enough, don’t you think?

Nick

August 21st, 2009
7:29 pm

Fang1944
“…Richard Poplawski with his semi-automatic was able to kill three policemen …”

Except for the fact that two of the officers were killed with a lowly shotgun rather than the evil “semi-automatic.”

redneck recluse

August 21st, 2009
7:54 pm

jim beam August 21st, 2009 2:59 pm
“Well John, from what I see on the news every night, it might be a good idea if blacks were disarmed.”

In the 1964 campaign Barry Goldwater spoke at a Republican fundraiser. After his speech he went around the room visiting each of the tables. At a table of tobacco executives he was asked about blacks possessing guns. He told the tobacco executives & their wives that no need to worry, he had a plan to take their guns away.

All of the tobacco executives campaigned Goldwater. Their thought was that if someone took blacks guns away tomorrow, then someone could take away their guns the day after tomorrow.

Lets not take away anyone’s guns. And where does it say in the Constitution that criminals cannot have guns?

clyde

August 21st, 2009
8:35 pm

redneck recluse,
No where in the Constitution does it say that criminals can’t have guns.There are ,however,state laws restricting the ownership of guns by criminals,but,being criminals the laws are not heeded.Law enforcement sometimes uses the possession by a felon law to lock criminals away.Except in the recent case of the young Atlanta rapper.T.I. or something like that,wasn’t it? He got a year I believe when he should have gotten ten.

benman

August 22nd, 2009
8:16 am

If you take any type of gun to a rally where a U.S. President is speaking I am now questioning your sanity and in doing so should you own any kind of gun? I am for reasonable gun rights and reasonable gun control. I am for acting as if we have some sense in this debate. The NRA and the gun control nuts want this to be an all-or-nothing issue. Both exist by keeping it this way. God gave us brains, all of us should use them.

david wayne osedach

August 22nd, 2009
9:27 am

Why would anyone in their right mind carry an AR 15 to a gathering for the President? Because they can?

Patricia

August 22nd, 2009
10:28 am

Bob Barr,

A man who prides himself on knowing the rights of law, can not see that there is a big problem brewing in this country with guns. It was wrong to have guns that close to the President, and you Mr. Barr knows this, get real. But I guess when one of these free carring gun people do something wrong toward the President with these guns then in your back rooms you can have that drink of celebration of the 2nd amendment. I pray that God continues to bless and protect our leaders from people of your mind set.

Real Housewives of Atlanta/D.C

August 22nd, 2009
7:47 pm

Bob Barr looks like Cynthia Tucker has done her best to stare a reality show like catfight with her attack on you and your three wives today.

Are you going to respond?

Fang1944

August 22nd, 2009
11:01 pm

Except for the fact that two of the officers were killed with a lowly shotgun rather than the evil “semi-automatic.”

Well, that simply reinforces the contention that people should not be carrying guns of any kind to a meeting with the President.

clyde

August 23rd, 2009
11:27 am

I have to hand it to Fang1944.There are never going to be enough facts to convince him that all gun owners aren’t criminals.

Devon

August 23rd, 2009
2:11 pm

Mr. Barr,

I did not think your opinions were relevant before this piece (The Defense of Marriage Act, anyone? Piece of rubbish.) but after reading this, you seem even more irrelevant! (If it were possible.) People have the right to their guns, yes, but myself and other rational thinkers all agree when we say: Why does one need a gun at a political rally? Why does one need a gun on MARTA?! Why does one need a gun when hiking in a national forest? Why does a civilian NEED a semi-automatic weapon? If you can answer those questions, I’d appreciate it.

Riposte

August 23rd, 2009
8:25 pm

Let’ just call them pacifiersnecessities.

cynthia tucker smells

August 23rd, 2009
8:55 pm

‘Bob Barr looks like Cynthia Tucker has done her best to stare a reality show like catfight with her attack on you and your three wives today.

Are you going to respond?’

Tell that racist biotch to enable her comments.

Nick

August 24th, 2009
12:58 am

Clyde, I think you are right.

Sorry Fang but any site of a Presidential visit is considered Federal property and thus firearms are prohibited. What you are referring to is the site of a nearby protest which the Secret Service decided was not a threat.