The American Civil Liberties Union is putting its foot down when it comes to providing legal representation for those who would seek to exercise their First and Second Amendment rights simultaneously. It will no longer defend armed demonstrators!
The ACLU is qualifying this policy change by saying it doesn’t want to defend armed “hate groups,” but one wonders if this is a slippery slope for an organization that has worked to protect and preserve the Constitutional rights of individuals for the past 100 years.
For example, some on the Left would argue that the NRA is a hate group. Of course, it’s not. But you can see how this opens up a can of worms in that it leaves it open to interpretation. Then, there’s the other side of the coin: armed hate groups on the Left. Would the ACLU also decline to defend the new Black Panther party just as it now won’t defend the KKK?
This announcement came on the heels of the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend.
“We’ve had people with odious views, all manner of bigots. But not people who want to carry weapons and are intent on committing violence,” ACLU spokeswoman Stacy Sullivan told Reuters.
Many of the white nationalists who showed up at the “Unite the Right” protest in Charlottesville were armed. But one could make an argument that they carried firearms for self-defense — not for intimidation.
Nevertheless, the ACLU says guns and protesting don’t mix.
“The events of Charlottesville require any judge, any police chief and any legal group to look at the facts of any white-supremacy protests with a much finer comb,” Anthony Romero, the ACLU’s executive director told The Wall Street Journal.
“If a protest group insists, ‘No, we want to be able to carry loaded firearms,’ well, we don’t have to represent them. They can find someone else,” Romero continued.
Meanwhile, anti-gunners couldn’t wait to jump on the ACLU announcement, attempting to equate gun owners with white supremacists.
“This is an important step in a battle against armed extremists that Moms Demand Action volunteers have been fighting for almost five years,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We know all too well what it feels like to speak out when your opponents ambush your peaceful rallies or meetings with loaded, military-style rifles on their backs.”
“That’s why we fight to stop open carry, and push back against gun laws that would make open carry easier, at every chance we get – and often we win,” she continued. “After Charlottesville, we are resolved to only get louder about this important public safety issue.”
See the subtle conflation? The ACLU is presumably talking about clansman and Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Watts beef over the past five years hasn’t been with these groups, rather it’s been with peaceful open carry advocates, whom she called “armed extremists.” Her implication is that those open carry advocates are one in the same as KKK members, Neo-Nazis, and white supremacists.
That’s totally unfair to open carry advocates. There’s a big difference between standing up for one’s right to keep and bear arms and agitating for an all White Ethno-State. One accords with the U.S. Constitution and the other is batshit crazy.
Hopefully, the ACLU doesn’t paint with too broad a brushstroke with its new policy and it will be able to differentiate between responsible gun-rights activists and clansman. But only time will tell.