“Now we are not here to debate their second amendment rights,” Thin Ice lead singer Russ Lesser announced to his Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair audience. “However, we are here to exercise our first amendment rights of free speech to ridicule this group for incredible bad taste and stupidity.”
Members of South Bay Open Carry, a group that promotes the right to carry handguns openly, in compliance with California law. Some, not used to seeing people exercising even a bit of freedom in this regard, reacted as bigots typically do when confronted with ideas that intrude on their provincial biases: with hostility, ignorance and arrogance.
Weighing in on the first count, Lesser’s narrow-mindedness was particularly telling, especially considering his influence in the beach community (and beyond). In addition to being in a popular local band, he is also a long-time Manhattan Beach councilman and former mayor, and president of Body Glove International. A fellow-band and family member is a U.S. Attorney, someone who presumably took an oath as a condition to assuming power. So, naturally, they abused their leadership positions and the advantage of a stage to gin up hostility and intolerance.
Lesser was right though. They were not there “to debate.” They were there to insult, to resort to the childish tactic of questioning the manhood of the open carriers, and to chastise them to “get a life” in a song written especially to attack the gun rights advocates. In other words, these “community leaders” were there to stir up crowd ugliness against a minority they disapprove of.
Representing the shallow knee-jerk fear reaction was “resident Elsa Gerard,” who stated she would not attend the fair:
“I didn’t want my children there,” said Gerard, who stayed home with her teenage son and 12-year-old twins Saturday. “I felt very uncomfortable with someone who’s not a trained police officer in a public place with a weapon.”
In Elsa’s world, a person with a gun and no badge is automatically a murderous threat. Too bad the reporter didn’t follow up and ask her what she actually knows about how trained everyone in uniform really is. Too bad the reporter didn’t ask her what she knows about the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights. Too bad the reporter didn’t ask her what she knows about the overwhelmingly peaceable conduct of armed citizens who know more about Founding intent than she apparently does. And God forbid she actually expand her horizons and maybe…talk to an open carrier and test her baseless preconceptions?
She and those like her are one of the reasons I maintain “The Only Ones” Files–not that many would ever look or be receptive to persuasion. But then, what is bigotry rooted in, if not blind ignorance?
And then there’s that third pillar in support of hoplophobia, official arrogance, as exemplified by Manhattan Beach Police Chief Rod Uyeda.
“I was very saddened,” Uyeda said. “…I respect SBOC’s right to bear arms, but feel this venue was inappropriate.”
What he does not say is in which venue he thinks it would be appropriate. And as for “respect[ing] SBOC’s right to bear arms,” ask him if he’ll approve a concealed carry permit for any law-abiding Manhattan Beach citizen who applies for one. Ask him what he’ll do if he catches someone with a gun who couldn’t get a permit to save his life. Then ask him if he’ll acknowledge a legal duty, with attendant liability, to protect individuals who heed his official rejection of their rights and go unarmed.
In fact he and the anti-gun establishment he represents were the reason SBOC had to threaten to sue, forcing officials to back down and obey California law. Uyeda’s reaction?
“I know, in large part, that their decision is also based on your group’s threats of a lawsuit naming the fair and each board member personally, and I, along with others, find such tactics very distasteful.”
A sworn “public servant,” whose sole function is to enforce the law, finds having the law applied against illegal obstruction of it “distasteful.” But he respects their right.
The end result? None of the dire predictions from the gun-haters came true. Most people accepted the presence of armed citizens among them without hate and hysteria, despite the best efforts of “community leaders” and law enforcement administration to foment it. And, in spite of opposition and prejudice against gun advocates assuming their rightful place in their communities, normalization through exposure and engagement continues to prove itself the best way to counter such outright, shameful bigotry.
Armed in Manhattan Beach redux
Here’s another story about guns in Manhattan Beach, this time, limited to a show put on by the gun-grabbers where the only firearms present were those possessed by the “Only Ones.” I know about it because it happened to me. As you’ll see, they tried their best to suppress the First Amendment, too.
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