When interviewed about my new book on the Secret Service, I often am asked whether the gun-toting demonstrators near events President Obama is attending pose a threat.
My answer is no — but I do think the protesters are idiots.
In one example, a man showed up outside Obama’s town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., displaying a gun holstered to his leg. He held a sign saying, “It Is Time To Water The Tree of Liberty.”
More recently, about a dozen people carried guns a block away from the Phoenix convention center where Obama was speaking. One man had an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder. He also carried a pistol in a holster on his hip.
Asked why he had taken guns to the gathering, he replied, “Because I can do it. In Arizona, I still have some freedoms left.”
As outlined in my book, “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect,” the Secret Service has been cutting corners dangerously since it was merged into the Department of Homeland Security in 2003. But agents keep gun-toting protesters far enough away from an event that they pose no danger. Secret Service agents also keep them under surveillance. If they try to approach the event, Secret Service agents will detain and question them. If they persist, they will be arrested.
The message these demonstrators are sending is another matter. They are trying to make the point that under the Second Amendment to the Constitution, they have the right to bear arms, even when near a presidential event. Although that is true, such juvenile behavior turns off most Americans.
For my book, “The FBI: Inside the World’s Most Powerful Law Enforcement Agency,” the FBI instructed me at the bureau’s ranges in Quantico, Va., and at headquarters, where I shot a submachine gun, a .357 Magnum revolver, a .38-caliber revolver, and a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol.
When it comes to firearms, I absorbed the FBI’s values: You don’t joke about “packing.” You never display firearms frivolously.
In contrast, gun-toting activists make themselves look foolish, hurting their own cause. Under the Second Amendment, they have as much right to carry weapons as left-wing wackos have under the First Amendment to compare former President Bush with Hitler and to claim Bush was behind the 9/11 attack.
But the rest of us have an equal right to declare them nuts.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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