It’s reasonable for people to disagree about how to reopen the economy amid a deadly pandemic. Given the stakes for people’s individual health and incomes, it stands to reason some will exercise the right to protest enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
Still, it’s hard to imagine a more assclownish display of our country’s partisan dysfunction than the gangs of heavily armed enforcers popping up around Texas to force business reopenings to occur at their preferred pace, public health be damned.
Media outlets have documented at least a half-dozen incidents around the state where militia-style protesters have “guarded” small business owners as they throw open their bars, gyms and tattoo parlors in violation of state orders — and at the risk of spreading COVID-19 infections.
Around the country, far-right anti-government protests have become synonymous with theatrical displays of firepower. Ask the participants, and they’ll tell you that’s because gun rights are tied up with every other individual liberty they’re fighting to protect.
But that’s a smokescreen. Those individuals know what the rest of us do: a loaded weapon of war is a threat, a means to enforce your will when you’re not smart, articulate or brave enough to do so in the marketplace ideas.
“People are nervous enough as it is, and then to see people walking around with AR-15s in public places, gathered together like that, is unnerving and upsetting,” Ed Scruggs, president of firearms control group Texas Gun Sense told the New York Times
. “The entire goal is intimidation and attention.”
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