The Propaganda of Overreacting to Guns

By Kimberly Bloom Jackson

Last week, near a busy outdoor shopping area, I witnessed two women break out into coughing fits while walking by a man who was just about to light a cigar. The match wasn’t even lit, but just seeing the cigar set them off. Perhaps their reaction was purely psychosomatic or maybe they just wanted to send the man a clear message of public disapproval and make him feel uncomfortable for enjoying a cigar. Either way, they sure looked silly.

Empty Holster = Freak Out

Chances are you’ve seen or heard something similar. It seems to me that these kinds of Alinsky-inspired theatrics are becoming increasingly common for those who wish to draw negative attention to certain people or situations for ideological purposes. This is especially true among the anti-gun crowd. To demonstrate, I offer the following recent stories:

STORY #1: Imagine wearing an empty holster and then cited by police for “causing alarm.” This is what D.J. Parten, a student at the University of Alabama and President of Students for Concealed Carry in Alabama experienced while participating in what was billed as an empty holster protest on campus. That’s right. No guns or ammo, just an empty holster. Nevertheless, someone apparently freaked out and three campus police officers showed up. Here’s just a snippet of what happened:

Officer: “You know there’s a no-weapons policy out here, but then you want to push it.”

Parten: “Uh … this is a protest.”

Officer “Doesn’t matter. Did you get permission to wear it?”

Parten: “I don’t need permission to wear it.”

Officer: “You need permission from the university.”

Parten: “To wear a holster?”

Officer: “There’s a no-weapons policy here.”

Parten: “It’s not a weapon.”

Officer: “I understand that. Take it up with Dean of Students, then, because y’all are gonna be written up for disciplinary, and I will put in there your attitude, you understand?”

Talk about absurd! Luckily, the whole incident was captured on video. The next day, University officials apologized to Parten, and the erroneous citation was rescinded. Then the Chief of Campus Police invited him to receive a personal apology by the officers involved in the incident. This is what we might call damage control. And D.J. Parten, the good citizen, was gracious. “I really appreciated the chief’s apology,” he said.

Personally, I wouldn’t have let these cocky police officers off the hook so easily. Clearly, they didn’t care about right or wrong. That’s an integrity problem and it’s what gives good police officers a bad name. To make matters worse, we hear all sorts of stories about how out of control radical students are allowed to take over college administrative offices, libraries, and hallways all across the nation—but it’s the guy with the empty holster who gets harassed and cited?

STORY #2: In San Antonio, Texas, a worker stumbles upon 75 rounds of decades-old rifle cartridges under the vacated home of a World War II vet who had just passed away. The response? Numerous police, firefighters, an ambulance, and even the bomb squad lay full siege on the scene. Neighbors were also evacuated from their homes and, for good measure, the media was called in to sensationalize the whole thing—all because someone found some old, dusty ammunition.

“This is definitely a big danger, because they’ve been under there so long,” explained Police Captain Troy Balcar. “They’ve rusted, they’ve been exposed to the weather elements outside so we definitely want to get them disposed of as quickly as possible.”

Captain Balcar makes it sound as if the ammo is on the brink of spontaneously shooting off like rockets. However, in reality, given their age and all the factors he mentions, the ammo has likely deteriorated into nothing more than a pile of duds. But a pile of duds does very little to support the hullaballoo surrounding a manufactured ammo “danger.” Meanwhile, a lot of first responders were needlessly diverted for a photo op.

STORY #3: Did you know that an individual who holds a valid concealed pistol license can legally open carry a firearm into any Michigan school even if the school has been designated a gun-free zone? So what do you think happened when an open carry dad walks his toddler to a music class designed for parents to attend? The usual mindless emotionalism, of course.

One mother told reporters that the dad has “created fear” and “crippled learning.” Then there’s Superintendent David Campbell who joined in the chorus by expressing his dislike for guns in school as well. So now every time the dad legally comes on campus with a sidearm exposed, the school goes into immediate lockdown and the dad is escorted to and from the class by police and administrators. So far, this procedure has occurred at least three times with the same dad. Is it just me or is this level of harassment a form of public shaming?

In addition, Superintendent Campbell held a meeting at the school where parents could come to voice their fears and frustration about guns in schools. Several known open-carry advocates were also in attendance, but only one received media attention. However, as I watched the news coverage, I couldn’t help but note the soured faces on all the anti-gun parents. Yet, ironically, if a lunatic with a gun was to have entered the room during the meeting, the few good guys with guns among them would have been the only ones in a position to save lives.

As for the open carry dad, I wonder if he realizes the significance of what just happened. He has riled up a bunch of people who won’t stop until the gun bans are re-instituted at all Michigan schools. In fact, parents are demanding legal action on just that. While I applaud the dad for taking responsibility for his own self-defense and that of his daughter, especially since his inherent right to self-preservation doesn’t cease to exist at the school gate, I would love the opportunity to ask him a simple question: Wouldn’t a nice concealed pistol have sufficed?

For me, stories like these make for great teachable moments. They give us invaluable insight into how people wildly overreact to make their political points about things they don’t like, whether it’s smoking, carrying firearms, or anything else. They also show how often premeditated actions are used to draw attention to someone in efforts to create extreme inconvenience and alter their behavior. It’s what you might call the proverbial “nudge”—an effort by progressive to get the rest of us to conform to their whims. Indeed, it’s all about ideological control.

What can we do? When nudged, push back! Get involved. Attend civic meetings and let your voice be heard. Don’t let the media always manipulate the message. Be prepared to use your phone’s video recorder to document possible evidence. Take to social media. In short, don’t sit on the sidelines in hopes that someone else will do the work for you. Engage in today’s game of propaganda hardball and play for keeps.

Question: What examples of irrational overreacting have you noticed lately? Share your observations on Facebook or Twitter.