WashPo: We Can’t Allow ‘Normalization of Firearms at Protests’

Michele L. Norris, an opinions contributor and consultant for The Washington Post, wrote an article this week bashing armed protesters who peaceably assemble.  

“We’ve gotten far too accustomed to the image of white protesters carrying paramilitary-level firearms in public spaces,” she wrote. “The presence of guns — often really large guns — at protests has become alarmingly normalized. It is time to take stock of what that means.”

“Accepting and even expecting to see firearms at protest rallies means that we somehow embrace the threat of chaos and violence,” she continued. “While those who carry say they have no intention of using their weapons, the firepower alone creates a wordless threat, and something far more calamitous if even just one person discharges a round.”

Norris penned the op-ed in the wake of a reopen Michigan demonstration at the state Capitol building late last month.  Local media reported that a small number of participants were armed with long guns and “confronted police officers” in an effort to gain access to the House floor as “lawmakers debated an extension of her emergency powers.”

Even though the situation never escalated beyond some chanting and shouting, the governor is now looking to ban firearms inside the Capitol building.   

“There are legislators who are wearing bulletproof vests to go to work,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, on Wednesday. “No one should be intimidated by someone who’s bringing in an assault rifle into their workplace. And so there is conversation about changing that law. I think it’s long overdue, and I absolutely support that change. You shouldn’t be intimidated going to be the voice of the people who elected you.”

Fears over armed protesters are by and large unfounded.  Critics like Ms. Norris and Gov. Whitmer would be hard-pressed to come up with even one example where shots were deliberately fired at a demonstration, particularly a pro-2A demonstration.

SEE ALSO: SAF Scores Big Win: Massachusetts Gun Shops to Reopen

Why is that?  Because the activists attending those rallies are law-abiding and civically engaged.  They are exercising their First Amendment and Second Amendment rights under the purview of the Constitution.  They are a threat to no one (unless one is a tyrant or dictator).  

By contrast, the real threat to the public is the criminal element. Basically, the last people on earth who would show up to a demonstration with an AR slung around their shoulder, which apart from being America’s most popular rifle, is a beacon to law enforcement that says, “Hey, look at me!”  

If we’re being honest, openly carrying a firearm invites scrutiny from the boys in blue.  Not exactly the type of attention one wants if one is a violent felon on the lam or a drug dealer with an 8 ball of cocaine in his pants.  Yet, it seems, neither Ms. Norris nor Gov. Whitmer understands this self-evident logic.  

Instead, what they want to do is demonize lawful gun owners and use their activism against them, as a way to further chill their fundamental rights. 

See, the ending result of last month’s rally won’t be to get people back to work any sooner, rather it’ll be turning the Capitol building into a gun-free zone, aka soft target, where citizens cannot bear arms to defend themselves.

And as for the notion that firearms being displayed in public by responsible citizens should not be normalized — I couldn’t disagree more. That should be the rule and not the exception. Because as it stands today, we see far too many negative depictions of guns in the movies, on TV, and over the Internet.

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About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 38 comments… add one }
  • The Observer May 13, 2020, 6:46 am

    Look at Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s eyes. She has the eyes of a psychopath. Hopefully the Republican Legislature grow a pair and shut her down.

  • ENIGMA6 May 10, 2020, 7:56 pm

    Who is “we” and why the hell do you think it’s up to you? The folks that demonstrated were calm and peaceful. Do you actually believe the police would have stayed that way if the demonstrators had been unarmed? I surely don’t.

  • Paul May 9, 2020, 2:01 pm

    I really wonder if the troublemakers are liberal shills trying to make the responsible gun owners look bad. Lets face it some one does something bad we all get blamed for it!

    • The Observer May 13, 2020, 6:47 am

      Yep, they are called agent provocateurs.

  • John May 8, 2020, 10:02 pm

    Some people’s morbid phobia surrounding the presence of big and scary guns is their psychological problem and I am not going to cave-in to their emotional blackmail by surrendering my 2A rights. I owe no one such a duty and will not acquiesce to their pathetic and unfounded fears. If those people feel safer w/o guns, fine, they shouldn’t buy any, but I shall not allow them to legislate away my right to self-protection for idiots that will come knocking on my door when civil unrest rears its ugly head, pleading for help. I just read that tens of thousands of former anti-gun types are buying up firearms in record numbers. I wonder why?

  • Bobs your uncle May 8, 2020, 7:28 pm

    Armed U.S. citizens? works for me.

  • Michael J May 8, 2020, 5:29 pm

    Democrats wearing body armor? I think there’s a connection.

  • Earl Haehl May 8, 2020, 4:54 pm

    As a matter of practice I would not do this as it has the result of introducing an extraneous issue into the demonstration. Would I carry concealed? You’re damn straight. Do I have a right to carry open–yes. Do I think it would be an effective strategy–depends on the whole context.

    I would point out that my fourth great grandfather was at Concord on 19 April 1773 and engaged in the first military response that changed the American Revolution into an armed conflict. Lexington was a demonstration, not a military response–I have little use for martyrdom. Had they dispersed when ordered, they would have achieved the objective of delaying the march of the King’s troops.

  • SGT-ADA May 8, 2020, 4:35 pm

    The Democrats who wore “bulletproof vests” that day knew as much about them as they do about guns. At best, the vests that I saw on local TV were at best Class II. The citizens’ rifles were at least 5.56 NATO, so those vests would be as effective as the Communist Manifesto, which seems to be the Democrats’ new bible, if the citizens were forced to return fire. Wait, I’ve heard stories of bibles stopping bullets. Ergo, these Commies’ bible would be better then the props these idiotic, camera hungry clowns were wearing.

    PS: the State Capital building isn’t on the verboten list because the Republicans tend to carry. That will be one hell of a floor fight, pun intended, when the Dems introduce legislation to make the building a victim rich zone. Maybe then those clowns who wore inappropriate vests will discover that Class IV armor, like our soldiers wear, is needed to stop a madman’s bullet. I bet that they won’t wear that class because it will make them look fatter on camera.

  • Gomer May 8, 2020, 4:11 pm

    The “good” governor has referred to herself as a “wise ruler.” That, alone, should be enough to see her removed from office. Those who are “subjects” are governed by “rulers.'” Here in The United States of America, we are citizens, not subjects. We, therefore, have EMPLOYEES, not rulers. Terminate the Michigan governor’s employment, NOW!

  • Mark A Gutsmiedl May 8, 2020, 3:33 pm

    so you are afraid of your own citizens that you are suppose to represent? Why? Could it be that you know you are going against the rights and wishes of the people? If you fear them so much, behave in a manner that will not make them hate you! Now you are going to pass a law to infringe upon the rights of the people even more?
    The police will use a show of force to keep us in line? To show us who is charge? You fear the people becasue you know you are doing wrong! Tyrant!

  • David Smith May 8, 2020, 3:33 pm

    If politicians are wearing ballistic vest because they’re afraid of their constituents, they must be doing something wrong. That’s pretty much what the second amendment was put in place for.
    I really don’t see the need to carry long guns at a protest unless the protest is specifically about the second amendment , but that’s just my opinion. And you know what they say about opinions…….

  • GomeznSA May 8, 2020, 3:16 pm

    I observed on another blog about this issue that if Michele (is her middle name ‘Karen’?) – and all others who claim NO Citizen should be armed at a peaceful protest – had been around at Lexington and Concord they would have and should have ‘persuaded’ the redcoats by using flowery words and phrases to simply turn around and march back to Boston. Sometimes tyranny MUST be confronted directly – hopefully we have not reached the point that such confrontation requires more than those flowery words and phrases.

  • steve hammill May 8, 2020, 2:31 pm

    Utterly unreasonable bullies in government can do and say and do whatever they want, but armed citizens take the bully right out of them. A righteous person will express their beliefs even in the face of tyrants.

    It is about time.

  • R May 8, 2020, 2:29 pm

    I have no problem with gun ownership, and in fact own several guns myself, but these people are just plain crazy and looking for some attention. And all of you extreme pro 2A militia nut jobs need to calm the f*** down. No one is taking your damn guns for Christ sake. Obama was in office 8 years and never took a single gun. Trump took your bumpstocks and everyone thought it was the beginning of the end. (BTW…bump stocks are useless in defense, sport, or target shooting….if anyone can prove otherwise please let me know)

  • Andrew Klain May 8, 2020, 12:10 pm

    Back in the middle ’70’s I lived in ,and went to college in Colorado. We could , and did, carry openly in most places. We could walk into a Mom $ Pop general store with our side arms in full view and no one said a word about it. I had recently returned from a hitch in the Navy and time served in Viet Nam. I thought the 2nd amendment was universally accepted by one and all. Now , years later I live in New jersey with some of the most draconian gun laws in the nation. Basically there is no such thing as legal concealed carry. Almost impossible to attain. We have gone through assault weapons bans, we have mag limits , ID cards , background checks, mental health checks, permits are required for handgun purchases and limited to one per month, many rules governing legal transport to and from authorized ranges, hollow point bullet ban, and now our governor wants to drastically raise the tax on guns and ammunition. And I feel less safe here in NJ than I did in Colorado. Most states have laws restricting law abiding citizens , while they don’t do enough to stop the criminal element from attaining guns on the streets. They don’t give a damn about laws or permits, or background checks. The progressive liberals want control of the population and their first step is to disarm the population. It has been done by every dictatorship in history. It is why we have the 2nd Amendment ! The writer who said they are chipping away at the Bill of Rights is spot on ! In order to crumble the wall and turn us into subjects. DON”T LET THEM DO IT ! Vote them all out !!!

  • dave brown May 8, 2020, 11:19 am

    I have been voting for 50 years, my draft # to Nam was 252, and I have been gunning for over 55 years, so u do the math. In those 50 years of voting I don’t think I ever voted a straight ticket, thus I ain’t a Party Guy as I don’t like to Follow a Party nor a Gang. I have been carrying for about 40 years, and daily CC for over 20 years. Now the only way I would take one of my AKs or my AR chambered in the thumper round of an AK into a public place was if I was hunting for someone or I figured I really needed to protect myself. My Daily cc has been 32, 380, 9mm, and 40s&w which is my favorite semi auto Compact, but a light weight short barreled 5 rd .357 is my norm for the past 4 years. Yes it is a little thick, but it can do the job better then the others, and being I am not cleaning it that much but carring it all the time means a wheel gun is a better choice. These people that carry their longs guns are wearing masks, so they are either concerned about C-10 or they are hiding who they are. Now our Cops do that at times, but they have a good reason 4 many of us not to see their face. These Clowns that carry a long gun into a Public Place are simply Punks that have a need to look tuff………….. I figure if need be and with a little surprize on my side my 5 rounds of .357 be not make them look so tuff, but I would never do that as I am old school as to when I should pop a cap on another human Bean. I can only say God Bless US ALL.

    • PATRICK WHITED May 8, 2020, 2:16 pm

      Wth u talking about anyway gomer? Ur the one talking bout capping ppl for no reason. This is why they make idiots like u take a mental test there.

  • DaveGinOly May 8, 2020, 11:08 am

    Armed protesters at rallies “embrace the threat of chaos and violence.” Well, yes, they do. The right to arms is not meant to allow us to hunt, or even protect ourselves and our families. It’s meant to help us protect our Constitution both from foreign invaders and domestic enemies (i.e., politicians). The threat to the latter is a warning that they are treading where they aught not to tread, and should reconsider their actions. The violence they threaten is meant to cow politicians who overstep their authority. The threat of chaos is meant to remind them of the damage to society that may occur should the populace need to react with actual violence, the responsibility for which will be the politicians’ for failure to abide by the message delivered by the threat of force.

    Bearing arms at rallies also sends two (constitutionally-protected) political messages. The first, and less obvious, message the bearer sends is, “I am a free person.” The second (more obvious) message is, “Your actions are threatening my status as a free person, and you should stand down because I’m prepared to resist.” Bearing arms at a political protest rally is actually not much different than carrying a placard, only without the need for words. Because it sends a political message, it is an exercise of First Amendment rights. SCOTUS has long since ruled that a person cannot be required to surrender one right (e.g., the right to bear arms) in order to exercise another (free speech). Bans on the bearing of arms at political rallies are, constitutionally, non-starters, and should be ignored if issued.

    • Thomas Jefferson May 8, 2020, 3:23 pm

      Hear, Hear!!! A man that actually “GETS IT”! I’m proud of you son.

    • David May 11, 2020, 10:35 am

      Does anyone think the founding fathers thought “politician” was going to be a job? Nobody wanted to be president. They all wanted to go back to there farms.

  • Max Powers May 8, 2020, 11:02 am

    I believe that this narrative was skewed from the very beginning. There are so many points I’d like to chime in on in this forum, but, space and time don’t allow.

    I encourage EVERYONE to check out this YouTube video BEFORE they comment. Please!?!


    I’ll summarize my points for brevity’s sake:

    1. The Constitution of the United States cannot be suspended without an act of Congress due to crisis, and then, only temporarily.

    2. An executive order from any government in the US due to an emergency immediately transfers emergency co-ordination to the EMA (Emergency Management Agency) within that jurisdiction. THEY are in charge of the response AND implementing the rules during such crisis.

    3. The 2A protects expression of grievance redress in the 1A.

    4. ALL citizens between the ages of 17 and 64 are a de facto member of the US militia, organized or unorganized. (SEE: U.S. Code 10 ss 246. circa 1903)

    5. In our Constitutional Republic (NOT DEMOCRACY or MOB RULE), we are established as a “for the people, by the people” citizen governance. There IS NOT a “Ruling Class”.

    6. Using our right to assemble before our legislature to peacefully redress our grievances, we are allowed to do so armed, whether it be by open carry/concealed carry/torches and pitchforks (whichever is permitted depending on State laws).

    7. The way it is supposed to work is pretty simple. A local or county level leader with the authority to declare an emergency makes such declaration, and the corresponding EMA is activated and responds to the scene. The EMA makes an assessment and then decides if they are capable of handling the emergency, and if not, they move UP the chain for assistance. So, the local EMA calls the County EMA. They turn the scene over to them. Then, the County EMA makes their assessment and if they can’t handle it, they call for the Governor. The State Governor makes an emergency declaration and summons the State level EMA to the scene. If the State level EMA can’t handle it, they inform the Governor and S(he) requests a declaration from the President. The Federal EMA (FEMA) is summoned to the scene as the final authority in charge of handling the matter. There are 10 FEMA regions nationwide. If one region cannot handle the matter, they summon assistance from the other surrounding regions, until, theoretically, all 10 are engaged. If THEY can’t handle it, then we move to the National Guard, Army Reserves, etc. THEN, if they can’t handle it, the President can petition congress for Martial Law and the military can get involved on our own soil. THEN, if THEY can’t handle it, we’re screwed. NO ONE FOLLOWED THIS MODEL FOR THE PLANNEDEMIC!

    8. Since we’re way outside protocols and procedures, we should ALL consider following the lead of the Michigan citizenry and visit our own Capitols with a peaceful, but, clear message that we’re not happy with their abuse of power and/or failure to follow procedure. Armed as allowed by State Law.

    9. It is my opinion that our governance is in need of a reminder that we are not in an autocracy, and that we have the ability to adjust governance that is tyrranical through ousting rather than waiting for an election cycle. So, we show up, armed, with our petition to recall (Governors, legislators, Judges, etc.) and demand it be heard immediately. But, you better be organized, because you’ll have to stay in place until a resolve by court order, legislative action or special election . . . In 1881, in Washington State, the citizenry relocated a county seat from Spokane Falls to Cheney. It’s a fun read that requires a little thinking about how such an act by the citizenry could be pulled off today. But, just as the armed citizen is oftentimes a deterrent to the criminal, they may never have to finalize their plan for implementation if enough of them show up and start a plan . . . .

    So, Kudos abounding to the citizens that visited the Michigan capitol building. Whether good, bad or ugly in the reporting, your methods got the attention of ALL the media. Maybe other governance will begin to take notice that we grow weary of their nannying!

    What’s YOUR plan for restoring reason to the process of weathering this plannedemic?

  • Sal May 8, 2020, 9:54 am

    Whitmer will be a one term governor. The people of Michigan were well within their rights, and no one got sick or died during or after the assembly. By the way- who gives a shit about some liberal opinion anyway?

  • Hendrik Joseph Haan May 8, 2020, 9:44 am

    I’m a Michigan Marine vet. I like guns. But these lunatics aren’t helping the cause. Sorry, I meant that they are helping the anti-gun crowd. Would our Gov. order them shot? Perhaps that might happen now. Do the lunatics win if that happens?

    • DaveGinOly May 8, 2020, 11:18 am

      “Do the lunatics win if that happens?”
      Yes, they do. Because they will have demonstrated that there are politicians in office who will kill you for exercising your rights, exposing their evil intent for all to see.

    • Don Richardson May 8, 2020, 11:26 am

      I love guns. However, dressing up in tactical gear for a peaceful demonstration gives the lefties talking points which takes away from the actual argument. In other words, it does more harm than good for the demonstrators. Make your presence known. Make your point. Don’t turn the discussion into an anti-gun discussion. I don’t know the laws in Michigan but carry concealed if you fear for your life and if it is legal. Otherwise, leave your toys at home and discuss the constitutional rights which are being violated by the lockdown.

    • Thomas Jefferson May 8, 2020, 3:27 pm

      Hendrik, I’m willing to be you are one of those “peppers’ who plans on burying their guns so the gov. won’t take them. Sniveling, groveling, hiding just doesn’t cut it son.

  • Dave Lemay May 8, 2020, 9:32 am

    Within a paragraph above, this phrase is coined, “the firepower alone creates a wordless threat” and it is a very important statement. The fact that cops carry guns and most of us everyday citizens don’t, sparks that thought, ( a wordless threat ) in almost everyone, even when we don’t acknowledge it, openly. Only when we can be equally armed, can we then feel at ease. When the police have machine guns, and other fire power far greater than the rest of us, it’s us that should and do, feel threatened. We already have little to no possibility of defending ourselves against our own government should the need arise, but yet, let’s not forget, they aim to get all of our guns.

  • Dallas May 8, 2020, 9:30 am

    When a socialist start running their mouth hate all guns from beginning to talk about one particular firearm do you let them get away with it they’re gonna start talking about the rest of them When your people of your state elected her do you know what the vote means in November vote democrat socialist out of there Guns are not just protect people that are protect lives guns do not hurt nobody can look at all the people working in gun manufacturers feed their families animal manufactures and all the other benefits and a tax revenue that comes from the sales I bet they’re putting their hands in that money the politicians

  • SuperG May 8, 2020, 9:25 am

    She’s a racist, as she only pointed out the white people who had firearms.

  • Nick May 8, 2020, 8:48 am

    “Normalization” to me will be when Black Lives Matter can get a group of 100 black folks to open carry AR’s in Whitefish MT and not have a peep raised by the White Nationalists who did the same in Charlottesville.

    • DaveGinOly May 8, 2020, 11:32 am

      The progressive media absolutely complained (your “peep”) about the “white nationalists” in Charlottesville. But at least they had a purpose in protesting there, because a nexus existed between the location and the subject matter of the protest (the removal of a statue of Robt. E. Lee from a Charlottesville park).

      No such nexus would exist between a BLM protest and Whitefish. The protest would be seen as “provocative,” and probably rightly so.

      BTW, the Black Panthers were carrying firearms at protests in the 60’s and 70’s. No attempt was made to disarm them. These days there are organizations supporting the right to arms specifically for POCs (and some specifically for women and gays) and they have been warmly welcomed into the community of Second Amendment supporters. (Personally I wish that more POCs would become similarly enlightened.)

  • William Kotila May 8, 2020, 8:35 am

    Let me begin by saying that I am retired military and retired law enforcement. I strongly support the right to keep and bear arms. Armed citizens prevent millions of crimes per year and any honest cop will say so.

    Now, many people who openly carry rifles or handguns at protest demonstrations do so for reasons which are, to them valid. But, many are like children, wanting to bring their weapon to “show and tell”. They are like three year olds with a tin pot and a spoon, making noise, saying “look at me”.

    IF the demonstration is in support of the Second Amendment, or to protest infringements of it, I will be right there with them, with an AR slung on my shoulder.

    For non-Second Amendment protests, LEAVE THE VISIBLE GUNS AT HOME. Carry concealed, as always. Otherwise, you damage our cause. People who are “on the fence” about privately owned firearms will be pushed away from supporting us. Anti-gun media are given a photo opportunity to portray us as Elmer Fudds.

    The ONLY valid reason to be armed under those circumstances is if ANTIFA is expected to show up.

    • DaveGinOly May 8, 2020, 11:34 am

      Firearms send a political message, “Cease and desist, we are prepared to resist,” in a way that placards and slogan-chanting cannot. Politicians who are now claiming to feel threatened and who consider the armed protesters “dangerous” are actually signaling that they are getting the message.

      An you would silence that message. What does that say about you?

    • DaveGinOly May 8, 2020, 12:15 pm

      “IF the demonstration is in support of the Second Amendment, or to protest infringements of it, I will be right there with them, with an AR slung on my shoulder.
      For non-Second Amendment protests, LEAVE THE VISIBLE GUNS AT HOME. Carry concealed, as always. Otherwise, you damage our cause. People who are “on the fence” about privately owned firearms will be pushed away from supporting us. Anti-gun media are given a photo opportunity to portray us as Elmer Fudds.”

      You’re terribly inconsistent. You would carry at a pro-gun rally, but not at any other because it ‘damage(s) our cause.’ Then why doesn’t the display of arms at a pro-gun rally likewise ‘damage our cause.’ Doesn’t that also give the media a “photo opportunity to portray us as Elmer Fudds”?

      Forty years of more of conditioning by the MSM has taught many Americans to fear firearms and gun owners. You think we will over come that by hiding our guns? Gays got the attention and respect they demanded by coming out of the closet, getting in people’s faces, and by making other people uncomfortable. Gun people will not accomplish similar goals by staying in the closet.

      Open carry whenever you can. Let the public see that decent, ordinary people own guns. Let them see their friends, their neighbors, and their relatives carrying guns responsibly. Be polite. Smile a lot. Acknowledge the smiles, thumbs-ups, and positive comments (you’ll be surprised how many you get). Ignore those who disapprove (or engage them politely, if you must engage them). (You’ll be surprised at how little disapproval you will see.) Open carry permits you to be an ambassador for gun rights without saying a word.

      Or stay In the closet and let people think only deranged and evil people own guns. It’s your choice. Just don’t tell me how I should behave. You’d sound like Gov. Whitmer.

  • David Welsh May 8, 2020, 8:34 am

    People in Colonial times carried guns everywhere. No pantywaists were bothered by it. The government run by lawless liberals is the one not to be trusted.

  • Bad Penguin May 8, 2020, 8:03 am

    I would be very surprised if any of these guys had live ammo with themso no one was in danger.
    And although I don’t agree with these guys carrying weapons like that, it is legal and within their rights to do.

  • Nick M May 8, 2020, 7:55 am

    Paramilitary? The right to bear arms is military weapons. That is what is meant by “arms”. Shall not be infringed. Never surrender that ground of “shall not be infringed”, and why.

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