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.