Recently, state Rep. Mike Moon (R-157), acting on the principle that if you can gain a few inches you’re a fool not to take a mile, has proposed making locations that prohibit guns on the premises legally liable when/if bad guys shoot at and injure unarmed good guys. As for the inches already taken, last September the Missouri legislature overrode then Governor Nixon’s veto and expanded the the scope of Missouri’s concealed carry law. They also loosened the “castle-doctrine” law to the extent that folks who “feel” threatened can now shoot first and think later. All of which prompted a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial writer to ask whether the outcome would be “more senseless mayhem or a greater sense of personal safety?” Recent events in Pikesville, Kentucky may give us a hint abut the answer to that question.
Given that it’s in Kentucky and that Kentucky is one of those red-states that have a loving relationship with the NRA’s all-or-nothing interpretation of the 2nd amendment, it’s probably a safe bet that many of the inhabitants of Pikesville are all for politicians who promise guns in every pot. It’s also probably a safe bet that some of those gun advocates got a taste of the result of such promises fulfilled this last weekend when the fact that every Tom, Dick, and Hairy yahoo can carry great big guns had townspeople “on edge.”
It seems that a group of Neo-Nazis had selected Pikesville as the site of a unity rally. A group of anti-fascists demonstrators decided to make the scene as well, while, for good measure, some armed militia members showed up, uninvited, to “prevent property damage and guard the town,” ostensibly from both groups. Nor should we fail to note the presence the “handful of neo-Confederates from the League of the South, a racist group that according to the Southern Poverty Law Center still favours Southern secession.” Talk about stirring the pot.
Pikesville citizens and city officials were quite properly upset that their city might be perceived as a stronghold of hate, and they were even more properly worried about the potential for violence, especially since “Kentucky gun laws, which permit the open carry of firearms, would make the protest even more volatile.” Turns out that the event was more mean-spirited high comedy than riot, but the potential was there along with enough guns to have created a blood bath.
There are, of course, those who will want to tell me that the reason nobody was killed is because good guys’ guns canceled out bad guys’ guns. To which I’d ask first off, “what good guys?” Pikesville likely got off easy because of good planning on the part of its leaders and police along with the fecklessness of the protestors. They also just straight-out got lucky.
We can’t count on luck, though, to come through for us in the long term, and, in our divided polity, there’s going to be more and more confrontations of this sort. You can only stir the pot so long before it boils over. It’s just too bad that so many folks jumping into these hot pots are heavy-duty 2nd amendment fanatics.
Of course, we don’t need armed extremist groups taking to the streets to see the damage that the gun culture works in our inner-cities every day, not to mention the lethal edge that guns in the home can lend run-of-the-mill suburban disputes. It is a fact, though, that the potential for damage only gets worse as more guns circulate, legally and illegally, among a racially and politically divided citizenry. In fact, during debate over Missouri’s new, looser gun laws, Democrats pointed out the risk to minorities; as State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-14) observed:
The targets in our area are black boys, not pheasants […] What I don’t want to get to is the point where there is a trigger-happy police officer or bad Samaritan like Zimmerman who says, ‘Black boy in the hood. Skittles. Let’s shoot …
It’s a truism that it’s the violence that involves some permutation of black-on-black or black-on-white that solidifies the conviction of the white gun-hysterics who over-populate the GOP voter base that they need to arm themselves to the teeth. It’s going to be interesting to see how the NRA types spin it if shooting warfare breaks out among well-armed, predominantly white extremist groups like those in Pikesville. And what happens when the inevitable bystanders take a few bullets.