Weapons at town halls are an irresponsible protest

President Barack Obama’s proposed health-care reform speeches across the country also attracted the attention of gun protesters, the two most recent cases being in Phoenix and Portsmouth, N.H.

In the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, citizens have the right to bear arms. It makes sense when considering efforts to protect yourself, family and property. But when it comes to public gatherings and being within shooting range of the president, leave the assault rifle at home.

Recently in Arizona, a man carried an AR-15 assault rifle to one of Obama’s health care town hall meetings. Unless there are plans to shoot a long target quickly and accurately, this weapon doesn’t need to be anywhere near public gatherings. The fact that the National Rifle Association has refused to comment on the situation both with reporters and on its own Web site hints that they probably know these protests are detrimental to its cause.

The gun-toting protesters in Arizona and New Hampshire are damaging the very thing they are arguing for: the right to bear arms openly without harassment. Instead of trying to convince people into accepting open-gun carry, these gun-happy people are issuing their own legislative death sentence and messing it up for those who simply want to exercise their right to protect themselves.

A trip to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dealey Plaza demonstrates the fragility of life in the hands of an arms bearer. In 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy from the sixth floor of an old schoolbook storage facility. He was only about a block away from the president’s driving route.

The Secret Service may have learned how to keep the president from driving in an open-roofed vehicle, but the laws in other states may prevent them from doing their job.

A pistol strapped to your leg in plain sight is reasonable, but an assault rifle near the president sounds like a threat, as if the carrier are saying ‘Give us what we want or else!’

The common theme proposed by these protests was summed up by New Hampshire gun bearer William Kostric, who was reported in a New York Times article to have said “If you don’t exercise your rights, you will lose them.”

In the time of power in the Democratic Party, it is an outright stupid idea to come to a public forum brandishing weapons. Instead of having legislators acknowledge a right, they will acknowledge a potential threat that needs to be quickly disassembled. Yes, the second amendment does guarantee an individual’s right to bear arms, but statutory regulation can specify when, where, and how the weapons are to be used, and who may qualify to do so.

Whatever happened to writing to the congressman to address general grievances? In a gush of old-western bravado, the nation stands to lose its ground as an exemplar for diplomacy. This advice is for all those who would go to see the president, whether you support him or not. Comb your hair, brush your teeth and leave the weapons in the trunk.

Better yet, leave them at home.

Allison Erickson is a junior news-editorial major from San Antonio.