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Grabar: Carrying Firearms Is Incompatible With Democracy

Louisville nfa coalition open carry protest

Isn’t it strange that we didn’t get deeply concerned think pieces and denunciations of open carry protests after marches like this one in Louisville? (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

And here we have a natural extension of the expanding attack on gun rights following the storming of the Capitol . . .

So far, most of the faceoffs between Trump loyalists and federal lawmakers have occurred in airports, in whose rarified, gun-free confines disputes can be freely, if not calmly, aired. Many government buildings have been closed this year because of COVID, leaving angry Americans to confront their representatives on Zoom instead of in hallways and parking lots.

But sooner rather than later, we’re going to have to deal with the oxymoron of open-carry democracy. How do we permit a populace armed to the teeth to safely march, to rally, to watch its government in action, to confront and engage with politicians at will? When does the mere presence of a gun become a threat?

One possible future is taking shape in D.C., where both the White House and the U.S. Capitol have expanded their security fencing to take in acres of streets and parkland, and some members of Congress are beginning to doubt whether their insurrectionist peers can be trusted in the presence of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. For the first time, members of the House will have to pass through metal detectors to reach the floor.

Like lawmakers in Michigan, we are only beginning to see just how much the fullest expression of the Second Amendment curtails the fullest expression of the First.

— Henry Grabar in You Can’t Have an Open-Carry Democracy

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