So my first anxiety is not just that goofballs are parading around in public with their guns. It is their proximity to impassioned political debate and their proximity to a President who they ideologically and racially hate, that makes nightmares of past assassinations flash through my brain. These are not armed men at a gun show, or a shooting range, or even the parking lot of Cabela's. These men are at political rallies. If an armed man appears in the neighborhood of Central High School the school goes into lock down, and the SWAT Team is called in. But if the same man appears at a political rally, outside a presidential appearance, where ideological tensions are already high, he is simply expressing his Second Amendment rights [Sam Hurst, "August Gun Strutting Opens a Terrifying New Constitutional Frontier," The Dakota Day, 2009.09.30].
Hurst goes on to make an even more important point about guns and the Constitution. We can argue about whether we have a right to our guns to hunt, to pick off criminals, or to play Chuck Norris in Invasion U.S.A. But it's downright scary to think that anyone has a right to carry weapons as an act of political intimidation. If you need a gun to make your point, you must not have much of a point.
Update 08:33 CDT: I think Hurst is sensing the same frightening vibe that Thomas Friedman senses. The NYT columnist compares the increasing hateful disunity in America to the "poisonous political environment" he saw in Israel in 1995 right before the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Dr. Newquist hears something similar in John L. Perry's call for an American coup d'etat. Wake up, America. We're better than this.