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Threats of inauguration-related violence underscore the need to ban open carry

CHICAGO TRIBUNE.COM JANUARY 14, 2021 – Remember those unsettling photos and videos from the protest inside the Michigan Capitol in April? The demonstrators armed with military-style rifles as they squared off with police and attempted to confront lawmakers over what they considered overly harsh COVID-19 restrictions?

The FBI is warning that infuriated supporters of twice-impeached outgoing President Donald Trump are planning a replay of such scenes at state capitols nationwide from this weekend though President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday, amplifying the insurrectionary rage exhibited during the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Protesters at the U.S. Capitol were not waving guns — open carry of firearms is prohibited in the District of Columbia, as it is in Illinois and two other states. Officials in Michigan acted Monday to ban the practice in the Capitol building itself, which is just about the least they could have done to discourage radical Trump backers from making an ugly scene.

But USA Today reports that about 20 statehouses specifically allow guns inside the building, and a third don’t bother screening visitors with metal detectors. We’re looking here at the potential for a national nightmare, one in which right-wing crazies figuratively if not literally brandish their weapons at their political opponents in a last-ditch effort to extend the reign of their Dear Leader.

The effort will be futile, of course. Mobilized police and the National Guard will easily put down the ragtag would-be militia should any shooting start. Biden will take office on schedule.

With any luck, though, the cosplay will end without serious incident and hasten the day when every state bans the open carry of firearms on public property, with exceptions only for hunting. Of animals.

The sight of thousands of protesters carrying guns through the streets and into the seats of government in an effort to overturn the results of a free and fair election just might be enough to provoke a change of heart among voters and lawmakers.

Because, let’s be honest, guns are implicitly threatening. That doesn’t make them bad in all contexts.  [full article]

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