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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 21, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Guns at health-care forums: Anything but intimidation?

Gun toters just intimidating health-care discussions

Recently there has been a disturbing overlap between freedom of speech and the right to bear arms. What is the purpose of having machine guns, assault rifles and holstered handguns at playgrounds and town meetings? Where will this stop? Isn’t the sole purpose to intimidate others, especially when many are shouting and suppressing those with polite and legitimate questions?

Gun toters intimidate those without guns. It’s that simple. Why should guns be necessary at public forums on health care? Does the right to bear arms mean unarmed attendees should stay home out of fear, or alternatively, arm themselves for potential confrontations? What about the right to feel safe and secure when engaging in civil discourse about political matters affecting us all?

Police must hire more security for these events, even though the average non-gun toting person bears the economic burden.

Emotions have run high at the town meetings. What if somebody fires a shot in the crowd, creating panic and potentially a massacre?

Once again, the National Rifle Association has gone too far. Truly, it does not represent Middle America — only the fringe.

— Mark Litchman, Olympia

Protesters not trained to have weapons safely in a crowd

As a retired police officer, I was troubled by the sight of openly armed civilians at political rallies. But not for the obvious reasons.

I realize that each had a right to be armed, but from the images that I saw on television, none of those armed appeared to have the situational awareness that being armed in a crowd requires.

With the exception of one man, those that were portrayed wore holsters that were designed for concealment rather than secure weapon retention. Most had their hands holding other items like signs and microphones, making any attempt to prevent someone more sinisterly motivated from disarming them unsuccessful.

Being armed in a crowd, one must be constantly vigilant to protect the weapon from others. None of those that I saw were mentally prepared for such a misadventure.

Shame on them for being so cavalier with the safety of others.

— Jerry Kempe, Shoreline

Trying to drown out free speech with fear

Why are the people bringing guns to political rallies not being charged with domestic terrorism?

It is obvious their only intention is to intimidate those of us who want a responsible dialogue. If liberals had done this they’d be hauled off to jail in a hot second. Of course, that’s why we are liberals. We actually believe in free speech — not drowning it out.

We believe in democracy, not mob rule. And we live according to certain moral credos such as, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

That’s the difference.

— Rob Moitoza, Seattle

Comments | More in Federal government, Health care, Politics, Public safety, Reform

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