Open carry gun rights protest

A demonstrator carries an AR-15 rifle during a gun rally at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

One of the latest angles gun control groups have taken against the right to keep and bear arms is the argument that the presence of openly carried firearms “chills” or somehow inhibits free speech during peaceful (or otherwise) protests. They present an infringement on First Amendment rights.

There’s literally no proof of this at all, but that won’t stop them from continuing to try to sell it and push that angle of attack through their stenographers in the media. All is fair on the war on the Second Amendment.

Pro-gun rights scholars and activists have long argued that the presence of weapons at protests does not intimidate free speech, but assures protection for voices that could be violently repressed if they were not armed.

They say that armed volunteers protected non-violent Civil Rights era leaders and point out that Martin Luther King Jr. in 1956 applied for a concealed carry gun permit in Alabama, shortly after his house was bombed. His request was rejected.

Black Lives Matter protesters also deserve the right to bear arms for protection, argues Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor whose writings defend gun rights.

“Some may feel they can’t count on the police, the police might retreat at any time and that they need to defend themselves,” he said.

[Willian & Mary law professor Timothy] Zick and [Washington University law professor Gregory] Magarian acknowledge it is difficult to measure exactly how free speech is being chilled by public gun carriers. Firearms at contentious public political rallies may “inhibit people from coming out and speaking and participating and making their voices heard” in the first place, Magarian said.

There is no First Amendment right to attend a gun-free protest, the legal experts said. Only under narrow, specific circumstances can guns be prohibited, such as on the grounds of some government buildings.

– Brad Brooks in Free speech, gun rights on collision course in United States, some legal experts say

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