In terms of Guns and Democracy, I also want to address the issues raised by another commenter, Justin.
Justin wrote: “The huge majority of gun owners keep to themselves and carry concealed unless they are hunting… there is no reason to open conceal off grounds while in Montpelier especially now with these rallys going on. This man is being ridiculed all over the internet by gun owners for doing what he did even though it is legal to carry off grounds…”
“What if that man had been there with bad intentions and pulled his gun on you? How would you have protected your family? If you were carrying a gun you would have been able to protect them. I’m not saying everyone should carry a gun but I am saying that those that choose to should be able to.”
In my thinking, these statements really lay out the problem of guns. Justin suggests that there is a norm that gun owners should carry concealed and keep to themselves. Because this person violated that norm, folks are ridiculing him. But, the truth is that he is within his rights to engage in a behavior that reasonable gun advocates find inappropriate. Why can’t this norm (that it isn’t a good idea to walk around visibly armed) be established as a rule (law, regulation, policy) so we don’t have to worry about the bad judgement of unreasonable people bucking the norms? The second amendment states that the right to keep and bear arms exists because a “well-regulated militia” maintains security in a free state. This person was not acting as part of a wel-regulated militia.
But, based on Justin’s further discussion, regulation requiring concealed guns isn’t enough because it is possible that this person could have had bad intentions and pulled the gun on me. It is also possible, by the way, that he might have pulled his gun on me with only misguided intentions. Being armed myself would not have changed the scenario (I wouldn’t take the time for dropping bags and letting go of the hands of 2 kids, to unholster a weapon when my quickest option would be to throw myself at him to shield the kids). So when it comes to the question of whether or not I get shot, we have the same situation of relying upon that (not part of a well-regulated militia) armed person to do the right thing. I needed to depend on him being a good guy with an accurate grasp on reality so he didn’t perceive of me as a threat worth shooting. Instead of being so dependent on my own quick reflexes and the good intentions and mental clarity of strangers, I believe a more reasonable, more effective option would be to take the guns out of the hands of random John Q. Publics strolling around downtown and rely for my safety on well-regulated law enforcement charged with the task of maintaining order and protecting us all – the very peacekeeping force that the constitution intended to provide for me.