ThinkProgress: Earlier this month, two men decided to wander into a crowded farmers market in Appleton, Wisconsin each with an AR-15 assault rifle strapped across their back. They did not make it to the market. After several residents called 911, expressing concerns about the two gun-toting men. Police briefly detained the men, with at least one officer drawing his weapon after they determined that the assault rifles were real. The men were briefly handcuffed and detained but were eventually released without citations.
Although open carry is legal in Wisconsin, police say they stopped the men to prevent a panic — “walking into a farmers market filled with a couple thousand individuals would be a recipe for disaster.” Yet the a county attorney told the Appleton Post-Crescent that the men could not be charged because “they had not made it to the farmers market” at the point when they were stopped and the men are reportedly considering a lawsuit against the police. In video of the men’s encounter with the police, one of the men tells an officer that they are carrying a highly visible pair of assault rifles into a crowded public market for “self defense.”
Meanwhile, there's no shortage of concealed-carry dopes wandering around among the sweet corn, nursing their own paranoid fantasies of needing their sidearms at any moment for self-protection. And here come two clowns who look exactly like what you'd expect mass shooters to look like -- after all, that's why people called the cops on them in the first place. Take all this cowardice and mix it all together and you've turned a farmers' market into a powder keg -- for absolutely no good reason. These two Second Amendment Heroes may sue the cops for not allowing them to disturb the peace, because conservatives are opposed to frivolous lawsuits right up until they're not. When it comes to having government fail to enable their emotional instabilities, gun owners can get pretty whiny.
But who is really in the majority here? Cops got calls from "several residents" about two gun-wielding loons approaching a crowd of people. The mayor called the men "two idiots trying to prove a point" and said "we don’t need vigilantes." The local paper says open-carry laws have to go. You get the distinct feeling that the people of Appleton aren't on board with the need to be armed to the teeth everywhere and anywhere.
And of course, there's the aforementioned bad judgment. These guys have it in spades. Behold all the stupid:
One of the two men, Charles Branstrom, of Appleton, told Post-Crescent Media on Friday he had no regrets.
“We never did it to prove a point, I carry every day for my safety,” Branstrom said. “It’s 100 percent within the law, we never should have been stopped in the first place ... I was one nervous twitch away from getting shot.”
Branstrom carries it for his own safety and it brought him "one nervous twitch away from getting shot." I don't suppose the inherent contradiction here has -- or will ever -- occur to this Einstein. His assault rifle didn't make him more safe, it made him less safe. And it always will, because the only way to tell the difference between a coward too afraid to leave the house without his rifle and a mass killer is to wait and see if they start shooting or not. Apparently, the people of Appleton would rather not wait. And some of those Appletonians are their fellow Second Amendment Heroes -- just as constantly terrified, just as dumb, and just as armed. How long before some open-carry genius finds tragedy at the hands of a concealed-carry genius? How long before they decide it's too dangerous to wait until the bullets start flying and launch a preemptive strike? It wouldn't be the first time a shooter invoked the Bush Doctrine.
As I say, the possibility that they'll kill each other off isn't exactly remote. The problem is that those of us endowed with a modicum of courage would get caught in the crossfire.
And I can't be the only one who's come to this realization. Tolerance for weapons in public places seems to be wearing thin. For example, you're just going to have to risk getting coffee without your shootin' iron. Maybe if you run in and run out real quick and serpentine, you'll manage to survive.
ThinkProgress: Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has written an open letter asking customers to stop bringing guns into his 7,000 coffee shops — just two days after a man who had been enlisted in the Naval Reserves allegedly shot and killed 12 people at Washington DC, Navy Yard.
The decision is a reversal for the company, which had previously abided by local “open carry” laws, allowing patrons to bring guns into coffee shops where they were permitted to do so under state law. But the growing frequency with which advocates appeared at the shops with guns to celebrate “Starbucks Appreciation Days” alarmed Schultz, who argued that the demonstrations made some customers feel uncomfortable and gave off the mistaken impression that the company opposed gun safety measures.
Last month, San Antonio police broke up an “open carry” rally outside of a local Starbucks “after passersby complained about the three men and their rifles.” While the action was legal, “San Antonio police Chief William McManus explained that the gun holder can still be charged with disorderly conduct if anyone, at any point, feels threatened.”
In other words, "Starbucks Appreciation Day" resulted in a reversal of Starbucks policy. The gun nuts did themselves more harm than good. Being a wild-eyed loon waving guns around turns out to be a lousy way to win friends. Who knew?
By wallowing in their cowardice, by rubbing it in our faces, by demonstrating their inability to operate within reasonable limits or to have some respect for anyone other than themselves, gun nuts are beginning to lose what they've gained since the Tea Party won big in 2010. And they aren't losing in the state legislatures or the halls of congress, where everyone is just as timid as they are. No, they're losing on the street corners. They're losing as "no firearms allowed" signs go up in window after window. They have the right to bear arms, but soon there will be no place left to bear them -- other than along duck ponds and deer trails, where those weapons have always belonged. In their zeal to cram guns into every aspect of our lives, they're alienating everyone.
And wearing out their welcome and our patience.
[photo by Frank Steiner]