Explain something to me. A couple of guys in Wisconsin decided to sling their AR-15s over their shoulders, strap sidearms to their belts, and then stroll down to the Appleton, Wisconsin farmer’s market. The farmer’s market, for fucks sake. Where the biggest threat they’d likely have to face would be a smoothie made with kale.
But that’s not what I want you to explain to me.
Even before these yahoos got to the farmer’s market, concerned citizens were dialing 911 to report them. That’s what you do if you see a couple of armed guys approaching a crowded public venue. Why? Because of the mass murder of movie-goers in Aurora, Colorado. Because of the mass murder of first graders in Newtown, Connecticut. Because of the mass murder at a Congresswoman’s meet-and-greet in a supermarket parking lot in Tucson, Arizona. Because of what’s happening right now at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC.
You call the police because people carrying guns are likely to be fucking nuts. And the police, if they’re smart and cautious, will respond with weapons drawn — because they know that people carrying guns are likely to be fucking nuts. And that’s what the Appleton police did. They stopped the two guys at gunpoint, handcuffed them, and detained them. Eventually the guys were released, and their weapons were returned.
But that’s not what I want you to explain to me either.
Why would these guys tote weapons to the farmer’s market? Because they’re dicks. Because they were looking to cause a fuss. Because that’s how dicks behave. One of the men, Charles Branstom, said:
“We never did it to prove a point, I carry every day for my safety.”
For his safety. In Appleton, Wisconsin. Where there’s been one murder in the last five years, and only about a hundred robberies. In five years. Yeah, he and his buddy are carrying two weapons each for their safety. Oh, and he’s videotaping the entire thing as well…but no, he’s not trying to prove a point, of course not.
But that’s not what I want explained to me.
On the video you can hear one of the responding police officers explain why these two dolts were stopped.
“I get what you guys are trying to do. … But when you grow up a little bit and you’re a parent and have kids at an event like this and you see someone walk through with guns strapped to their back, your first inclination is going to be, ‘All right, what’s this guy up to? Is my child going to be safe?'”
These two guys are upset, of course. Because the police pointed guns at them. One of them is talking about suing the police department.
“I’m still kind of shaken. I was one nervous twitch away from having a bullet put in me.”
Gun rights advocates all over the Intertubes are horrified that any professional police officer might see a couple of heavily-armed white guys heading toward a public event as some sort of threat. Had they been, say, wearing hoodies or black…well, you know you can’t be too careful. Had they looked Middle Eastern or maybe like somebody from the Indian subcontinent — like, say, Miss America — then sure, the police would have to respond; it might be a terrorist situation. But these guys were white.
But that isn’t what I want explained.
This incident has nothing to do with the right to bear arms; it has everything to do with being a dick. And of course they were trying to prove a point. And hey, they succeeded. The law in Wisconsin (and almost everywhere else in the United States) allows fuckwits like this to openly carry their weapons.
But even that isn’t what I want explained to me.
You know what they don’t have the right to carry in public? A Hello Kitty AR-15. No, I’m not making this up. Appleton, Wisconsin has a municipal ordinance that states:
No person may carry or display a facsimile firearm in a manner that could reasonably be expected to alarm, intimidate, threaten or terrify another person.
There. That’s it. Somebody, please, explain that to me.
UPDATE: It’s been pointed out to me that the Hello Kitty AR is actually a real weapon, not a toy. So hey, good news — you could legally carry it over your shoulder in Appleton, Wisconsin.