Nearly 350 right-wing protestors crowded a New Mexico town’s busiest intersection yesterday to protest President Obama’s supposed anti-gun agenda and the “government takeover of our health care system.” While the event mostly looked like any other recent right-wing rally – complete with signs reading “replace the communists in DC” and “the sky is falling! A black man is president!” – what set this protest apart was that there “were plenty of handguns and rifles displayed.”
The local Tea Party and a group called the Second Amendment Task Force (2ATF, a reference to the ATF, which enforces gun laws) encouraged people to bring guns to the event in Alamogordo, NM, in order to “put a positive light on gun ownership,” said 2ATF’s founder Dan Woodruff. While the two protests were technically separate, they were planned together for the same day in adjacent locations. Otero Tea Party Patriots coordinator Don Omey said he was “proud” of the gun-toters. “That’s what we need to turn some minds around,” Omey said. Under New Mexico law, it’s legal for anyone over the age of 19 to open-carry a holstered firearm in most public places.
And while there was no violence during the event, one protestor wearing a Tea Party shirt said his loaded gun was a “very open threat” to anyone who might “try to take over the country completely as a socialist communist [state].” Watch it:
Apart from the obvious danger of introducing firearms to a crowded, emotionally charged environment, as Walt Rubel, the editor of the Las Cruces Sun-Times wrote in today’s paper, displaying guns at a rally is counterproductive to the protesters’ goals. “Nothing will ‘put a positive light on gun ownership’ quite like inviting every yahoo with a weapon in southern New Mexico to gather at the busiest intersection in Alamogordo and wave their firearms at the passing traffic,” he wrote.
This was not the first right-wing protest to which people have brought guns or displayed offensive signs, but the hate-filled atmosphere at Tea Party rallies doesn’t seem to bother former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. In a guest-column in the Des Moines Register on Friday he wrote, “every American who is not corrupted by the secular-socialist left should be a member of the Tea Party movement.”