Dave Kopel on the Armed Protests

Patrik Jonsson of the Christian Science Monitor (remember him?) has written an article on the armed protester phenomena where he quotes Dave Kopel:

“This is really a form of expressive speech, and I think the fact that the Secret Service … hasn’t gotten particularly upset shows good judgement on their part,” he says.

Still, the man didn’t necessarily do the Second Amendment cause any favors, Kopel says.

“While I think it’s really paranoid for some of the media to falsely characterize this as people trying to threaten the president, I think it shows bad judgement to carry [guns] near a presidential speech,” he says. Protesters are “trying to make a statement about Second Amendment rights, but they’re doing it in a way that probably sets back that cause.”

I agree on it being a form of expressive speech, and on the latter part.  I support people’s legal right to open carry, but if open carry folks want people to get used to the sight of guns, and think “no big deal” then you have to act in a manner that makes it no big deal.  Last I checked, it was a big deal to end up on national television.

28 thoughts on “Dave Kopel on the Armed Protests”

  1. Black people riding in the front of buses was unusual until Rosa Parks did it. She was on the national news as well. Did she do something wrong?

    sv, III

  2. Except open carry is totally legal in Arizona, and you won’t get arrested for it. What oppression was this guy trying to fight? It would be one thing if he did this in, say, New Jersey, and suffered the consequence of arrest, but that’s not the case.

  3. “What oppression was he trying to fight?”

    You’re kidding, right? Are you just trying to be difficult or do you truly not understand? The antis have been after the gun culture for decades and you don’t think there’s oppression?

    I, for one, am tired of being a Gun Nigger and if I/we have to get in people’s faces, so be it….whether you like it or not.

    Become part of the solution or get out of the way because the Neville Chamberlin plan isn’t working.

    sv, III

  4. I think you are letting someone else define “big deal” for you.

    As there become more and more places one can “end up on national television” (YouTube, FaceBook, MySpace, blogs, etc.), the big deal-ness of such becomes devalued and meaningless.

    You need to own and define the terms of the debate, and not let the reporting parties do it for you. (And that includes alternate media as well.)

  5. You’re kidding, right? Are you just trying to be difficult or do you truly not understand? The antis have been after the gun culture for decades and you don’t think there’s oppression?

    There is, but this was not about that. This was about seeking attention.

  6. Anthony:

    Alternative media is growing in importance, but traditional broadcast media still wields a lot of power, and it’s foolish to assume otherwise. Hell, they just elected a President, and despite the fact that the guy’s policies poll in the gutter, his popularity is not yet in free fall, though it’s dropping.

    If you’re looking to define the terms of the debate, this is a poor method. I would have had a lot more sympathy for this guy if he had just been open carrying a pistol on his hip and the media just happened to make a spectacle out of it. But that’s not what happened here.

  7. You don’t get to come into my sandbox and throw sand in my eyes. I was once very tolerant of that. No more. When you and your three percent buddies get off your asses and do something other than whine and make noise and attack others, I might be more inclined to listen, but until then you can all go to hell.

  8. Why don’t you guys go tell Dave Kopel, who sat next to Alan Gura during the Heller oral arguments, that he’s a phony gun rights activist too? It’s always easier to throw rocks than to accomplish something.

    1. I might add that by the time he did sit down with Gura, Kopel’s extensive research on the Second Amendment had been cited by eight state Supreme Courts, multiple federal courts, and in over 400 law review articles. But obviously, that doesn’t feel as good as screaming loudly.

  9. I don’t know that it set back our cause as Kopel suggests, but it certainly had the potential to end badly for us.

  10. Very well.

    I will only point out that a man did something besides whine and make noise and that you don’t approve.

    I thank you and I am out.

    sv, III

  11. I’m torn on this. I really am.

    On the one hand, I tend to agree with you, Sebastian, that giving the anti-gun media more ammunition (pardon the pun) isn’t particularly helpful in advancing 2a issues.

    On the other hand, when the mainstream media keeps spectacularly showcasing how utterly biased and untrustworthy they are (such as MSNBC just did) and the players on our side stay articulate, on message, and peaceful I can’t bring myself to condemn their actions.

    What worries me the most, and I mean sick to my stomach worried, is that some LEFTWING nutjob is going to do something evil and set us up for the political fallout. Call me a paranoid nutjob if you will, but it wouldn’t shock me one bit for some Alinsky worshipping crackpot to shoot up a SEIU or NAACP office to provide “proof” we “crazy right wing racist gun nuts” need to be cracked down on….

  12. “I think we lucked out with this guy.”

    Sort of. Despite him seeming a bit of a kook, according to a few local people who have encountered him before – not a wacko, just acceptably and mildly eccentric: sort of like someone who spits on the ground if there is a spider around. I think, though, that he was initially approached by local news (which, BTW, showed his face and actually had audio) as “Hey, a black guy with a gun!” human interest. When the nationals (MSNBC anyway) then picked it up they thought the idea of someone in public with a rifle would be even more “interesting” should they only mention white racists (read: Republicans) – having the only a gun-toter footage be of a non-white non-BHO-supporter from the event became problematic…

    For a different take, from a blogger who at first thought it a bad move and still wonders:

  13. I am kind of like Graumagus and am torn about this all of this. I like the fact that the guy was articulate and did not fit the sterotype the media creates of gun owners (white redneck whackjobs). But in the end I have to come back to the fact that Kopel is right, and it does not make someone any less a Second Amendment rights supporter to say what he and other hard working activists had said about these displays. It plays right into the hands of the lamestream media to protray us as nut jobs and the editing that MSNBC did with the video of the guy with the AR-15 demonstrates that point.

  14. Not gonna let this one go, eh?

    I agree this could have gone very badly, but the fact remains that it didn’t. Considering the smear job that was done by MSNBC, we all caught a break from the Law of Unintended Consequences: that they went overboard to conceal Chris’s skin color will hurt them for quite awhile, which is not something that could have been anticipated. The ‘gun near the President’ was to be expected, but them trying to hide the man’s race in order to continue the ‘angry white man’ meme is a tremendous gift.

    And calling national TV coverage a ‘big deal’ is a bit disingenuous. The MSM has been on the lookout for this stuff. Chris and his associates anticipated this and planned for it. They got inside the meme and exploited it.

    I understand that this kind of theater isn’t your cup of tea, but you shouldn’t condemn it because of that. Your method of putting on nice clothing and speaking in calm, reasonable tones will get a lot of things done for the gun community, but it’s not the only strategy.

  15. Far be it for me to question the great and almighty Bitter Sebastian, but I would point out that waving Kopel’s extensive and obvious legal acumen in everyone’s face is all good and well, but it does not, in any way, indicate that he has any knowledge or understanding of how to advance a “cause” in the eyes of the public. This is not to say he does not have that knowledge or understanding, but as “appeal to authority” logical fallacies go, that one trips on its own shoelaces.

    In point of fact, his legal acumen is largely irrelevant in this particular circumstance, given the fact that, as Sebastian noted, open carry of this nature is 100% legal in Arizona. That said, just because it is legal does not mean opression does not exist – merely that the oppression is one done by the populace, not the government.

    It is a “big deal” to carry long arms in public because no one carries long arms in public, and no one carries long arms in public because it is a “big deal”. As such, we have the option of either changing the public’s viewpoint of what a “big deal” is by words, legislation, and such; or we can start carrying around long arms to the point where it is no longer a “big deal”.

    Or, better yet, we can do both. *shrugs* Here in Tennessee, the carrying of loaded long guns is illegal, and I doubt our political climate is particularly ready for that to change… however, open carry (with a permit) is 100% legal, though you almost never see anyone do it. Additionally, many firearm-related bills have been proposed and passed in our recent legislative session, so the topic is still in a great number of people’s minds. I am hardly one to draw attention to myself, or even be particularly proactive, but I am already talking with the fine folks over at Little Bear Holsters about crafting up an OWB holster for me, while I do research on how to interact with police, citizens, and everything else while open carrying.

    “Doing something” constructive can take a great many forms, and I have no doubt that showing that average, every-day, polite, reasonable, rational, and responsible citizens carry firearms on a daily basis would certainly qualify… and Chris in Arizona was doing just that.

    1. Linoge, someone came on and was a complete ass. He basically argued that if you disagreed on the subject, you had zero Second Amendment credibility. I was pointing out that Kopel has more than a little credibility. Although given how often Kopel is interviewed by many outlets, I would say he’s also far accomplished at advancing the cause with the public than most people here, as well.

      I’m going to assume you just didn’t see that comment while it was up as opposed to agreeing with it. Otherwise, there are an awful lot of activists you’d have to discount just because they don’t agree with you on a PR strategy.

  16. I came on and was the ass. If you are going to erase my arguments, please at least present them accurately.

    My point was that Sebastian thinks it is wrong to act in a way that might give the media ammuntition against us. As both Robb Allen and vssapresident have said, if we don’t give them ammunition, they’ll make it up anyway.

    That is a lose, lose proposition….lose if we’re polite little mice or lose if we let them make it up out of whole cloth. WWNCD is not an option.

    sv, III

  17. I’m going to assume you just didn’t see that comment while it was up as opposed to agreeing with it.

    Or, you know, it could just be that I have an opinion of my own, and I happen to disagree with both of you.

    Oh darn, there I go, speaking up again.

    As I already wrote, I never attempted to indicate that Kopel is not without his PR expertise – but if you are going to appeal to authority, ensure you phrase the appeal appropriately, otherwise you will be referring to someone’s legal prowess when everyone agrees that legality is not in question here.


    And be careful who you are accusing of “discounting activists”… from my perspective, someone went and did something amazingly ballsy, provocative, and activist-y, and not only did he pull it off, but he pulled it off amazingly successfully and effectively, and even with the White House begrudgingly ok-ing it. Strategery is all good and well, but it is bloody hard to argue with success (not that you obviously have not tried, and undoubtedly will in the future).

    1. If you want to agree with the self-professed ass, that’s fine. I honestly didn’t think you were of the attitude that if one doesn’t choose to participate in your form of activism that they don’t even support gun rights (which is what the comment argued).

  18. I just want to add a comment about “oppression.”

    More than 50 years ago, at the age of 18 (and looking about 15) I learned that open carry was legal in our state, and I did for awhile. I remember carrying a S&W .45 revolver on my hip into the post office, and no one batting an eye. Yet with hindsight I still feel I “got away with it,” not that my legal rights were respected.

    Since then I have been involved in court cases involving gun issues and I have prevailed. But I learned that having the law on your side is no guarantee that you will not be placed in a position where you have to pay through the nose to prove it in court. Something they don’t teach in middle school civics is that you have no more rights than you can afford, especially if your rights are politically unpopular in your community.

    Open carry is still legal here, but I haven’t done it in well over 40 years, simply because I haven’t wanted to pay through the nose again to prove my rights exist — and without any sure guarantee I would prevail in whatever happened.

    Maybe someone will quote the law to me and tell me I’m wrong and that I’ve only been oppressing myself out of fear and paranoia. But it is fear and paranoia based on some first-hand experience, and I believe I have been oppressed for all those years by community attitudes. We could make many analogies to blacks in the deep south “taking it” and supporting the illusion that “the darkies are perfectly happy” with Jim Crow laws and customs. I for one am taking my hat off to everyone who is standing up; I only hope some of them appreciate what a tough row they may have to hoe if local law enforcement forces them to prove their rights in court.

  19. Actually the “big deal” comment bothered me. It is easy these days to become a celebrity on cable news, that “big deal” does not mean much. Beside why is it bad to get publicity pointing out that OC is OK and legal in AZ?

    I think that is good publicity. The only others that seemed to echo the opinion that this was a bad idea. is the strong anti gun loonies comments on various articles. Most have not mention it at all.

    This argument is big in the gun community but not outside it,

    MSNBC I think shot itself in the foot. How that will effect public opinion about guns, I do not know. Beside historically there has never been much fear of white folk having guns, just when black folk do it.

    What I think is that MSNBC is doing a lot to push the meme of black racism on the part of the tea parties and anti health care elderly at these forums.

    Of course I recognize that I think it will be good publicity for us is based on my bias as a gun rights supporter.

    Really we have to see how the falls out as first opinion and reactions are often wrong.

    I guess that Sebastians discomfort of OC activism will not be changed unless he sees sucess. I think sucess in this will be incremental. I do thing that Brady and Josh Marshall
    response to Gibbs statement was priceless.

    But I read often the lefts comments and often they think that our voices are larger than I think they are. I think the prevailing culture had adopted so much of leftest anti gun opinion , and the left thinks that conservative pro gun opinion has been adopted.

    I guess our viewpoints reflect our fear of each other and may not be an objective viewpoint. We all live in our own fishbowls and echo chambers.

  20. Linoge:

    If I had a problem with you speaking up, I would just delete your comments. I could care less if you disagree with me. I might disagree back, but that’s about as emotionally invested as I’ll get with it.

  21. FWIW I also don’t care if you disagree with Dave Kopel, and from what I know of Dave, I don’t think he would take exception to it either. My point wasn’t to wave his opinion around and say you can’t disagree with it, just to help bolster my case by pointing out other prominent people in the movement, who have made great contributions, also think it’s not the best tactic.

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