A group called “White Lives Matter,” carrying firearms and Confederate flags, gathered outside NAACP headquarters in Houston today. Presumably the place was closed on Sunday, so there don’t seem to have been any confrontations with NAACP staff.
This raises some questions for advocates of “open carry”:
- Is it appropriate to come armed to a political demonstration?
- Would it be appropriate for counter-demonstrators also to come armed?
- When two groups of armed demonstrators confront one another and start shouting and shoving, and someone opens fire, how could a jury possibly find, beyond reasonable doubt, that whoever fired first was not in reasonable fear of his life from the actions of the armed people on the other side? Texas is “stand-your-ground” as well as “open-carry,” so there is no legal obligation on either side to back off.
- If the demonstration happened during business hours, would it be appropriate for NAACP staff to come armed? If one of them were to kill an armed Confederate, and testified that he saw the Confederate going for his gun and felt in reasonable fear of his life, how could a jury convict? Conversely, if one of the Confederates were to kill an armed NAACP staffer and gave the same testimony, how could a jury convict?
Or, if you like, you can flip any of these questions around and imagine a bunch of anti-Trump demonstrators coming armed to a Trump rally.
My prejudice here is clear enough: I don’t think weapons have any place in political demonstrations, and I favor old-fashioned laws against the display of firearms inside city limits.