Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Do you want to be on TV? Do you have a handgun carry permit?

Have I got a deal for you!

Last week I caught this interview on MSNBC. It was after a presidential town hall meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The person being interviewed is William Kostric, who garnered much attention outside of the event and and afterward proceeded to be cussed out by Hardball host Chris Matthews for "...carrying a goddamn gun at a presidential event."

The desperation of the 24-hour news cycle never ceases to amaze me.

While I did not watch live footage of the gun-totin' protester, I did see an endless number of close-ups of Mr. Kostric's unconcealed weapon strapped to his leg. I can only imagine how this footage came to existence. I picture it now - the news cameras surveying the crowd, noticing the protester with a gun and the cameras suddenly swarming upon him. Speculation on a handgun outside a presidential event makes for great filler when they have to fill the downtime. It spurred quite a bit of controversy.

This controversy annoys me greatly. I especially like the part of Matthews' interview where he asks Kostric if he's part of the "birther movement" and pesters the man to ask repeatedly if he believes President Obama is a legitimate president of the United States. How disappointing it must have been for the host to find that his guest refused to rant about birth certificates like a true anti-Obama zealot.

While Kostric comes across as someone who is not accustomed to television exposure, he does not present himself as a zealot. He legally and openly carried a firearm without incident while protesting. The only chaos that ensued was in response to the media overexposure of this non-incident. Yesterday, the daily poll question in the Washington Post Express was Should it be illegal to carry guns outside presidential events? I can't even believe this is starting a national dialogue when there was no incident. As Kostric says in the interview, he wasn't doing anything illegal. Which Matthews answers by pointing out "You can chew gum in church, you can ride in on a pogo stick. There's a lot of things you're legally allowed to do." His point being, that with America's history of assassinations, it is inappropriate to legally carry a gun near a presidential event.

It seems to me that our history of assassinations is the reason why President Obama has a presidential motorcade with bulletproof vehicles, secret service agents and metal detectors. Is the guy deliberately trying to make a statement by standing across the street from the event w/a handgun? Certainly. And it seems to have worked beyond his wildest expectations. By showing up carrying his gun, he got a great deal of media exposure by sources who have nothing better to report and with the bonus of starting a national dialogue about the second amendment.

Now, thanks to the media exposure of New Hampshire, everyone wants to make a statement and get on television. This is the part that bugs me. Here is how I see this playing out.

  • A guy in NH shows up to protest and straps his piece to his leg, hoping that it will attract attention and give him the opportunity to stand up for 2nd amendment rights.
  • Said guy ends up with media exposure and succeeds in starting (again!) a national dialogue about gun laws and the likelihood of a presidential assassination.
  • The Second Amendment argument gets the masses on both sides of the issue worked up - as it always does.
  • People start showing up to more events with more guns just to make their point.
  • Eventually all of the attention turns it into a circus, and yes, inevitably someone will do something stupid and someone may get hurt.
  • Because the debate will escalate as it always does and someone will cross the line as they always do.
  • If (God forbid!) there is an incident, the anti-gun activists will be vindicated. They can be sure to thank the media once again.
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