Here’s a pretty clear illustration of it from Josh Marshall:
About a week ago there was a story out of Oregon of a couple young men who went into a generally liberal non-gun owning type neighborhood with semi-automatic weapons legally on their persons — clearly for the purpose of making a point that they can carry anywhere. We wrote it up and we got this email from TPM Reader AA …
AA: The recent Good Times piece had far more slanted commentary than I’m used to from you. I understand that it may be bad taste to open carry rifles right now but there is no need to demonize people for it. You must understand the folks who are open carrying are not the ones causing the trouble. If they are about to do something bad, they will be hiding anything and everything. I don’t carry but see it all the time in my area and never think twice about it. You must acknowledge that they have some level of a point to what you consider madness.
I wrote back the following …
Marshall: I really don’t. It was clear from the piece that they were in a neighborhood that is not used to seeing people carrying guns, let alone assault rifles. And they were indifferent to the fact that they were scaring people. Indeed, they said that their whole point was to demonstrate their right to do it. A school went into lockdown. I think it’s far more than in bad taste. What possible justification is their for that? Why do you think they did this?
And he replied …
AA: My point is that regardless of how we feel about the law, that it was legal for them to do what they did but the tone I read was illustrating criminal behavior. I liken it to people obnoxiously purposely coughing and giving the stink eye to others who are smoking outside, well away from a door, in an allowed smoking area. Obviously less severe but an example of frankly, being pissy about others’ non criminal choices.
I can only infer on their motives in this case, and yes there are some idiots who just want attention; but from knowing others who open carry they believe that they must show that there is nothing to fear, to show the community the difference between psychopaths, real or imagined, and normal people who choose to carry. The first time you see something scary, that you may not understand completely, are you less afraid when nothing bad happens? The second time, third time? I believe that is what is meant by ‘educate the public’ and is not meant to be derogatory.
I wrote back at more length. But at this point I was already starting to see red. I don’t pretend that AA is representative. But it captured a mentality that does seem pervasive among many more determined gun rights advocates — basically that us non-gun people need to be held down as it were and made to learn that it’s okay being around people carrying loaded weapons.
Well, I don’t want to learn. That doesn’t work where I live — geographically or metaphorically.
The casual gun-toting, and the enforcement of religious-like conformity all have their roots in a semifeudal rural society simmering with the potential for social upheaval. This is what you get when you blend fundamentalist religion with gun ownership in a political party that is essentially a religious organization. These people call themselves “conservatives” but we conservatives prize order above having guns rubbed in our noses. Just as a no one would a hooker plying her trade on their street, non-gun owners don’t want gun-slingers invading the peaceful setting of coffee shops and businesses, churches and public facilities. We will always complain about it and we will not submit to “re-education” by someone with a gun in their possession.
Gun-toters think they are right and they believe the half of the nation who does not care to be part of gun-culture just needs to be desensitized to guns by more public gun displays. That may be great if you want to live in that world, but don’t come importing your gun-toting culture to a place where it doesn’t belong. I won’t ever be desensitized by the casual display of guns. I’m just like those shop owners and shoppers in Oregon. I’ll call the cops and I’ll call the local school to alert them to your presence and complain about you until you leave my neighborhood. Yes, I know you just won’t understand why I don’t see how meaningful it is to you to trot out your artillery. That’s what I’m saying. I never will.