Example 15,568 why I think conspiracy-obsessed Ron Paul "patriots" are as big a threat to the rising conservative / libertarian consciousness as anything on the Left.
Monday in Phoenix, Arizona, some folks showed up at an ObamaCare town hall openly carrying weapons; one even had an AR-15 over his shoulder. With a magazine inserted. Really. The Left / Mainstream Media is having a field day with this, seeing it as - if you'll pardon the expression - the smoking gun which proves their conclusion that anti-ObamaCare folks are a bunch of dangerous, reactionary wackos.
Here's a video about the event, apparently by the folks who did it - someone or some group called "4409" and/or "Wake Up, America Productions." Notice the anti-vaccine and "9/11 Truth" signs and banners in the background in that first video, and have a look at their other videos on their YouTube channel - these folks seem to be small bunch (aren't they all? -ed.) of Ron Paul worshipping conspiracy theorists out for a publicity stunt.
Look, I'm a staunch supporter of a citizen's Right to Keep and Bear Arms. I have a Concealed Carry Permit, and I carry in public when I conclude the necessity. I practice with my weapon regularly. I firmly believe that the Second Amendment exists to make sure that you and me, as Free Citizens, have the power to protect our foundational rights; be they threatened by a mugger or rapist, a foreign power, or a tyrannical and totalitarian domestic government.
So, did these Paul-bots have a legal right to do this? Yes. Openly bearing arms is legal in Arizona. (as it should be in all States - ed.) But as Mudoc so wisely points out, "Sure, you can. That’s not the same as sure, you should." That's a wonderfully apt definition of mature reasoning and self-discipline, something these "patriots" clearly lack. And besides, there was no point to openly carrying an AR-15 and the other arms except to call attention to themselves and away from the whole reason there was a crowd there in the first place. The anti-ObamaCare crowd wasn't there to see the Paul-bots display their big guns. The anti-ObamaCare crowd wasn't there about firearms rights per se - even though most of the anti-ObamaCare crowd was probably as pro-Second Amendment as your humble blogger. They were there, as we all are these days, protesting a myriad of recent government excesses: TARP, the "Stimulus," Cap and Trade, and ObamaCare.
No matter how well these folks and their guns comported themselves, childish stunts like this do little more than make The Left / Mainstream Media go even further into their "danger-to-democracy" feeding frenzy mode. Which makes our serious arguments against expanding big government that much harder to convey convincingly to the public, and makes our newly energized supporters stay at home again for fear of being associated with "extremists." It was beyond stupid.
UPDATE 19AUG09: Alphecca weighs in. Murdoc has an update, too, and reiterates the point about this being used against us. It appears Team Hopenchange also sees PR advantages here, as they're not concerned with it happening again.