Disarmed for McCain

David pokes some fun at the McCain event held last Friday in Louisville.  Yeah, I disarmed for McCain.  Several people chose to watch from the NRA press office, where they had a feed, and you could be armed.  Before the McCain event, I was open carrying around the press office and the exhibit hall.  No one seemed to be too bothered, including the Louisville Police, the Secret Service, or the authorized journalists.  David opines in the comments:

Blaming it all on the SS rings hollow. I believe NRA had a choice of saying “No thanks–do it all via TV feed if that’s your position,” and McCain also had the option of telling the SS who the boss is–which I cede is extremely unlikely.

If McCain and NRA wanted to turn some of this around, he would show up for an impromptu photo op at their range next to armed members. Does anyone honestly believe randomly present members would pose a danger? Because if so, the gun controllers argument that none of us can be trusted must be true. And quite the opposite statement would be made about the trustworthiness of peaceable gun owners if he did–a real in-your-face to the gungrabbers who portray NRA members as violent lunatics.

McCain was pretty unlikely to call off the secret service, but David is correct that he could have done so if he really wanted to.  Given the speech he gave, it’s not too surprising he didn’t go out of his way to act like a true friend to gun owners.  NRA then had a choice of telling McCain to bugger off, pissing off a lot of ticket holders, or just dealing with the Secret Service security.  It’s one of those cases you’re not going to make everyone happy.

I also don’t think the security reflects too much on NRA members, because anyone could have gotten into that forum if they had a scalped ticket, or just outright forged credentials, which wouldn’t have been that hard for someone determined to get close enough to McCain to take a shot.  Secret Service security centers around controlling the forum, rather than being concerned about specific individuals, unless they have a reason to be.

Based on what I was told, Secret Service was worried about the blogger creds, since people were being issued press credentials who weren’t actually press, but that problem was ironed out by NRA before we started arriving.  There was definitely a lot of security theater going on, but in general, I thought the Secret Service was pretty accomodating of the fact that McCain was appearing in a location with thousands of armed people.

17 thoughts on “Disarmed for McCain”

  1. McCain has no choice in the matter. His life is 100% in Secret Services hands . . . they put their life on the line to protect his and for David to suggest he question their judgment and challenge their power to protect him. . . . .well, I think his grasp on reality speaks for itself

  2. Yeah, anyone who has ever worked a protective detail or been the primary of a protective detail knows the score on this one.

  3. Actually anyone could have gotten in, tickets were not being checked.

  4. The Gov of Ohio Ted Strickland (D) spoke at the Ohioans for Concealed Carry Picnic all of whom were carrying handguns. The Gov was nice enough to pose for pictures:


    The Gov is the one in the pink shirt. Made the comment in his speech “I’ll bet this is the safest park in Ohio today”

    McCain had no choice, but is nice to see that some government leaders protective details aren’t afraid of the people.

  5. McCain had a choice, but it probably would have caused problems between the campaign and the SS if he had called them off.

  6. Actually Sebastian, he had no choice. Once you accept Secret Service protection they control your security 100%. ANything short of that – at least in the Secret Service’s mind – fatally undermines the larger security envelope they create.

    Of course, they don’t always require folks to be disarmed – partly it involves an assessment of risk and levels of advance general public knowledge. For instance, Bush often times (well, on at least 3 or 4 times) attends baseball games in D.C. Opening night, everyone gets screened. But other times, when there is no advanced notice he’s going to be there no one gets screened and he usually waits until the end – or right before he leaves – to let people know he’s there.

    Maybe its cause I’m in D.C., but I just don’t have any problem with SS taking over control of all security for the individual in their protection. If you don’t want to see the president (or in this case a candidate – all of whom have death threats against them) then fine, stay in the press room. But don’t criticize the candidate because of something he has no control over (and 99.99999999% of people are going to think your nuts for complaining about)

  7. Why were pocket knives seized?

    Is the SS jealous of the TSA?

    Really, wasn’t there always enough SS around McCain to deflect a pocket-knife attack?

  8. Sebastian, you keep saying he had no choice, so I ask: If McCain had put his foot down and told the Secret Service “I am going, and I will not require them to be unarmed,” what would the Secret Service have done? Physically restrained him from going? Arrested him? Is there a law that says he has to do what they say? If so, what is the penalty if he breaks it?

    McCain may be a senator, and a presidential candidate, but he is still a citizen, and is free to go where he wants, when he wants, just like the rest of us. If he wanted to put his foot down, he could have.

    Of course, given the remarks he made in his speech, he probably wanted to make very sure that nobody there had a gun handy so he didn’t have to worry when he told them he would be perfectly willing to f#@k them over, and didn’t really give a s#!t about the very rights they wanted him to support.

  9. Jake –

    He’s one of the two leading candidates. By law, once you are X number of days out from election day Secret Service takes over your security. You have no choice in the matter.

    Now, whether they are there by operation of law or by McCains request right now, I don’t know. But prior to their mandatory coverage, once he makes the request they are there with him.

    Could he have always rescind that request?? Well, i guess he could. But then not only would he lose all protection until he was eligible to receive mandatory coverage (you don’t contract with secret service and then second guess and fire them based upon your own independent risk analysis and then expect them to come back and work for you the next day) why would he?

    To try and win over 1/2 dozen idiot kooks on the internet who aren’t voting for him anyway at the expense of making him look like a fool to 250 million Americans (not to mention insulting those who have sworn to protect his life)

    Some days, I really wonder about people . . .

  10. Countertop,

    You say that “By law, once you are X number of days out from election day Secret Service takes over your security. You have no choice in the matter.” Which law? You merely assert that there is no choice. Please tell me where to find the text of this law, so I can understand the reason behind your assertion.

    Your response does not answer my actual questions: what would the Secret Service have done? Physically restrained him from going? Arrested him? Is there a law that says he has to do what they say? If so, what is the penalty if he breaks it?

  11. It’s title 18, Section 3056. And no, the secret service will not arrest McCain, but once they are invited in, they are basically there unless McCain declines all protection from them. Could McCain have waived them off legally? Yes. Would it have caused problems between McCain’s campaign and the Secret Service? Yes. I didn’t have a problem with McCain’s security detail. Sure, would have been nice to carry into the speech, but I was pretty shocked when the rumor hit you were going to be able to.

  12. And actually, I need to clarify. As a matter of course they take over, but a candidate can request that coverage sooner or is always free to decline their protection up until election day.

    That said, you either get it or you don’t. If you ask for protection, their mission is all encompassing and as a candidate you don’t get to pick and choose, nor would anyone in their right mind see that as a prudent thing to do. Especially when, as I pointed out, the only upside is to quiet a half dozen Internet commentators who aren’t voting for you anyway.

  13. Countertop, why is it the entire focus of your argument is on the one point I specifically CEDED?

    Do you have a reading comprehension problem, or are you just being as dishonest here as you were on your Olofson comments?

    Good grief–and you call others “idiot kooks.”

  14. So you’re saying that, if McCain had put his foot down, the Secret Service would have walked?

    And I do concede that it would have been a bad move for McCain to do so. The number of people that it matters to is too small to justify the risk, or the damage. [It also would be less than good for the Secret Service to withdraw protection from McCain. Not only would they be shredded politically (probably along with McCain), but there’s a good chance that in about 9 months he’ll be in a _very_ good position to make his displeasure felt. (Actually, as a Senator, he’s already in a decent position to do that.]

  15. Yes and no

    That’s certainly the option on the table for them, and what they indicate beforehand. If they would actually do it, well we will never know cause no politician good enough to get that far would be foolish enough to test those waters.

    Now, there have been situation (and I’m thinking of examples with ex presidents, and more directly their spouses) where those requests were made (well, requests for SS to bug off temporarily that were honored but then the risk to an ex presidents spouse in a small more controlled event is much different than in a huge auditorium.

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