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Dave Kopel Elaborates His Views on Armed Protests

Dave Kopel spends some time speaking on iVoices.org, elaborating on his views about armed protest.

This is essentially what I was attempting to hit on with my post about effectively changing minds.  Mike V. raises a good argument in the comments, “Explain to me what civil rights movement does not proceed by ‘seeking attention’.  Please.”  It’s a serious question and it deserves a serious answer, so I will try to clarify what I mean by attention seeking.

Mike is correct that all civil rights movements have to draw attention to the plight, as a first step. I don’t deny that. But we intuitively know there are effective and ineffective ways of doing that. I don’t think anyone would seriously suggest that had Rosa Parks instead pulled a roscoe out of her purse, pointed it at the head of the bus driver, and said “If you make me move to the back of the bus, I’m moving your brains to the front of the bus,” that would have been as effective as what she actually did. Both would have raised awareness of the issue, but by refusing to move and suffering arrest, the people who carefully orchestrated Parks’ civil disobedience put it in context other people could relate to, and begin to understand. It also conveyed how seriously the black community was, by showing they were willing to be subject to arrest. So intuitively there’s a difference between positive attention, which raises awareness, and negative or neutral attention, which could be considered attention for attention’s sake.

I can’t really figure out what purpose the rifle served other than bringing in the cameras. Sure, they talked a bit about the guns, because the press was asking about it, but they were also bringing up the laundry list of paleolibertarian complaints about the government. If the idea was to raise awareness of the issue, I think it got lost in the fact they were carrying a rifle. It might have brought the cameras, but it confused the message.

Had they arranged something like, carrying a pistol openly in DC, and suffered arrest, that would have been a different thing.  I don’t think anyone would argue the dedication to the cause would have been admirable, and at the very least would have been directly related to the suppression of Second Amendment rights.

17 Responses to “Dave Kopel Elaborates His Views on Armed Protests”

  1. BadIdeaGuy says:

    I have mixed feelings about the guy with the AR at the rally. Whether intentional or not, it distracts from the debate about that issue, and there’s a lot of important things that need to be out there.

    I think you’re right overall, slinging the AR that day was media savvy for the individual and his intended outcome of drawing attention, but for the rest who showed up it detracted from what they sought to accomplish.

  2. After a tip from Dustin’s Gun blog I read the Gun Owner’s of America post titled He Had a Gun and Nothing Happened which makes the point that “this is news?”.

    Chris might not want to travel to Washington DC and might not have thousands of dollars to pay for his expenses and for a lawyer (or three) to defend him. The NRA is welcome to recruit and underwrite the defense of such a person.

    For all I know Chris may be the Rosa Parks that didn’t happen, he asserted his rights and the powers that be chose to let well enough alone (e.g. allow peaceful people their peace). To me that is a win for our side. To think that the good guys (that keep and bear arms) are going to ever fail to “incite” the hoplophobes (inside and outside the media) is to presume that utopia is an option.

  3. Sebastian says:

    I think to a large degree if you find yourself unable to get your point through the media filter with an activism tactic, then to a large degree that tactic is closed to you. You have to think of another way to achieve the goal you’re looking to achieve.

    I’m not saying that open carry in and of itself is a problem in that regard, meaning people shouldn’t do it because that tactic is closed, but that as a means of activism you’re not going to achieve your ends with those means.

  4. Sebastian says:

    Here I’m assuming your ends is to get your point across with the media. Not getting people accustomed to people carry guns. Those are different ends, and whether open carry is a means to that end is a different conversation.

  5. RAH says:

    Not all activists have to follow the Rosa Parks model. We have had several already arrested and won in court. This time it was just a proftesional dressed black man with the evil EBR showing his his right to carry expressed against a pro control President.

    CCW does not help at all because it is discretion rather than out in front demonstration. As a demonstration of carry rights it was a very correct. Now this protest was about health care and not gun rights. But it does emphasize that the government can not run roughshod imposing health care since we do have the the ballot and ammo box.

  6. RAH says:

    I realy think the open carry, especially of the rifle, was a pointed reminder that we can resist government tyranny with arms. Also it was a poke in they eye the administration wish to get another AWB

  7. I’m conflicted on the open carry issue.

    I think that we might gather more sympathy for the cause by open carrying a revolver and lever action brush gun or an old WW2 surplus garand or a pump action shot gun. Something that seems less threatening and that people can relate to — they might have a familiar member who hangs one over the fireplace themselves.

    I understand the AWB angle and all that, but we’re talking about mobilizing public support. You don’t do that be scaring and alienating people.

  8. Sebastian says:

    I don’t think the type of rifle really matters. Someone carrying a rifle slung in an urban area is very unusual, even in Arizona. Doesn’t matter too much what type of rifle it is.

  9. MicroBalrog says:

    There’s something wrong with paleolibertarianism now?

  10. Sebastian says:

    Did I say that?

  11. Roberta X says:

    There’s something wrong with legally carrying a scary black poodleshooter?

  12. Sebastian says:

    Nothing wrong with it legally or morally. But if the goal was to try to persuade the public, or even try to get a message out about a cause, it seems like an ineffective technique to me. The media was entirely distracted by the gun, and I doubt the actual message got out to the public. If anything, the message they wanted to get out to the public was actually gotten out by the White House, which was surprising.

  13. MicroBalrog says:

    >Did I say that?

    Consider W. Kostrick. He is an FSP member. Of course he wants to promote his cause, which is radical libertarianism.

    By carrying openly to a rally he got on TV and managed to speak, cogently and coherently, about his topics. Paleolibertarianism rarely gets any decent press, and so those 8 minutes of TV time were priceless. And he also managed to be an ambassador for open carry while doing so.

    I think he succeeded.

  14. Dave says:

    “I think that we might gather more sympathy for the cause by open carrying a revolver and lever action brush gun or an old WW2 surplus garand or a pump action shot gun.”

    Chris, I don’t know how useful that would be. Those inclined to crap their pants probably still would. If we are going to go in that direction we should go all the way. I’ll admit I could be the wrong person to ask, as I would have preferred Charlton Heston hoisting a S&W model 76 for the cold dead hands speech instead of a flintlock.

  15. Chris Bennett says:

    I don’t understand your embracing disobedience against the DC Law, yet not embracing disobedience against social ‘norms’.

  16. Sebastian says:

    I wouldn’t say I’m embracing it. I don’t think it would work all that well either. But it would be different.

  17. MRAZ45 says:

    Why do many of you still want to “reach across the aisle” and try to reason with liberals? The greatest oxymoron of our era is the phrase “liberal thought.” If they do not see forceful resistance (this does not mean shooting yet), they will never respect you and your guns, or any of your other rights either. Quit trying to reason with them. They don’t respect you or your freedoms. They only want to control you. I am glad to see freedom-loving Americans highly upset at tea parties and town halls, calling their congressmen and telling them what they think. In the past few months the liberals have gotten their hands on the auto and banking industries, ruined the housing market, attempted to control your health care and done everything they could to ruin the economy. Our leaders have apologized to our enemies and introduced a bill to even control the internet when it suits them. I’m on your side, really, but quit trying to appease the “enemy.” Have a nice day. I’m off to the range while you guys get squeamish about what liberals think.

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