What it means to wear a gun in public

While the First Amendment doesnt ensure credibility or significance, it is supposed to guarantee freedom from fear — a freedom that is now under siege. Citing the Second Amendment and the increasingly maniacal rhetoric of conservative media firebrands, a small handful of violence-threatening protesters aims to make the rest of us — whether pro- or anti-health-reform — afraid to speak out.

And so we face a choice that has nothing to do with healthcare, gun ownership or any other hot-button issue that protesters of both parties are fighting over. It is a choice about democracy itself — a choice that comes down to the two axioms best articulated by, of all people, Mao Zedong.

One option is willful ignorance: We can pretend the ferment is unimportant, continue allowing the intimidation and ultimately usher in a dark future where “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

Better, though, is simply making public political events firearm-free zones, just like schools and stadiums. That way forward honors our democratic ideals by declaring that politics may be war, but in America it is “war without bloodshed” — and without the threat of bloodshed.

David Sirota | Salon