Whose freedom?

Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon ponders the fact that gun rights are allowed to trump public safety.

It’s about living in a country in which the right to carry around a weapon takes priority over the privilege of being able to stand up in a crowd and not worry about being murdered.

That’s the United States – where public speaking is dangerous but carrying a gun is cherished and protected.

On Tuesday, the University announced that it intended to still hold the event, despite the warning that “feminists have ruined my life and I will have my revenge, for my sake and the sake of all the others they’ve wronged.” University spokesman Tim Vitale told the Standard Examiner that the school had consulted with federal, local and state law enforcement and determined it was safe to go on with the appearance, noting that “They determined the threat seems to be consistent with ones [Sarkeesian] has received at other places around the nation. The threat we received is not out of the norm for [her.]” Yep, just your typical, run of the mill, everyday let’s-kill-the-feminists thing. Your basic vow of a “Montreal Massacre-style attack,” a promise that “I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe. This will be the deadliest school shooting in American history and I’m giving you a chance to stop it… One way or another, I’m going to make sure they die… She is going to die screaming like the craven little whore that she is if you let her come to USU…. I will write my manifesto in her spilled blood, and you will all bear witness to what feminist lies and poison have done to the men of America” letter. As you do. The school promised additional security around the event, and “not allowing large bags or backpacks inside.”

What it did not do, however, and the reason Sarkeesian ultimately canceled, was actually commit to stopping people from bringing in guns.

The school did more than not commit to stopping people from bringing in guns; it said it wouldn’t stop people from bringing in guns, because the law wouldn’t allow it. The school made it clear that guns would not be banned or stopped or detained at the event.

So what will it take, Williams asks, for something to be done about this? We don’t know, because what there’s already been hasn’t done the job.

You know how long it’s been since a man with a gun and a desire to punish women went out and killed a bunch of people near a school? Less than five months. Less than five months since Elliot Rodger murdered six people and injured thirteen others. Isla Vista. Aurora. Sandy Hook. Welcome to America.

It’s one thing to accept and understand that plenty of reasonable and responsible people own guns and that is their constitutional right. It is another to be so outrageously afraid of legitimate and sane restrictions that you have a situation in which it is entirely permissible to carry a loaded weapon into an event that carries a threat that the people attending it will “die screaming.”

Why should the freedom to carry a gun everywhere trump the freedom to speak up in public?

I would really like to know.


  1. Kevin Kehres says

    Correction…it’s OK for white dudebros to carry weapons. If you’re black, brown, or even slightly off-white, it is definitely not OK.

    Eggshell–that’s as brown as you can be and carry weapons.

    Please make a note of it.

  2. dshetty says

    Why should the freedom to carry a gun everywhere trump the freedom to speak up in public?
    I would like to answer the NRA has more money/politicians in their pocket
    But my experience is that too many people in the USA actually believe that they should be able to carry guns everywhere , no matter what.

  3. LCAO says

    What might be helpful is for someone to make up a map of U.S. states and jurisdictions with such ‘concealed-carry everywhere’ laws that make it difficult to ensure safety at public gatherings. That would make it easier for members to pressure member societies not to hold conferences in those states, etc. Sadly, it may be that those states’ gun-worship might only diminish in the face of lost revenue. Maybe even that won’t be enough in some cases.

  4. A Masked Avenger says

    The inability, or refusal, to provide security measures–including preventing attendees from carrying weapons–is unconscionable. Full stop.

    Ms. Sarkeesian, and everyone else for that matter, has an absolute right to do what is necessary to feel safe. Full stop.

    I do think that the “privilege of being able to stand up in a crowd and not worry about being murdered” rests on the comforting, but false, notion that making a rule against firearms–or even screening people for firearms–means that everyone you meet is unarmed.

    As someone who works in law enforcement, I am armed with some regularity. And I have accidentally entered secure areas in sports venues, theme parks, and even airports, while armed. Screening has limited effectiveness, and it’s not hard to forget that you have a knife, gun, baton, or pepper spray, because you have them so routinely. Of course I’ve also had security find my knife, or OC spray, and cheerfully surrendered them to be tossed. But if I actually wanted to get through with a weapon, I’d give myself 3:1 odds in favor.

    There are larger issues, of course. Does screening reduce the likelihood of an armed confrontation? Unquestionably. Is it better to have some security than no security? Obviously. Would I demand security measures if credible threats were made on my life? You bet your ass. Nothing I just said can really be construed as an argument against security, or legal restrictions on weapons. It’s just worth bearing in mind that the fact that prohibiting weapons is not at all the same thing as “the privilege of being able to stand up in a crowd and not worry about being murdered.” I don’t think it’s wise to be under that illusion. In the 24 “open carry” states, or the 39 “shall issue” states, one at least realizes that safety cannot be assumed.

    The bright side is, as I’m wont to say, that “obviously nobody wants to kill me that badly, because I’m still alive.”

    But that, of course, is cold fucking comfort to someone who is receiving death threats. I have no answers for Ms. Sarkeesian–all I can offer is my unqualified support for her, and my heartfelt wish that those threatening her are caught and punished.

  5. Robert, not Bob says

    It’s because guns have become a tribal marker-how do you show you’re a loyal conservative, i.e. True American? Support guns!

  6. RJW says

    Some Americans carry guns to protect themselves from other Americans carrying guns, and the government of course, all they need is a Glock and a little tinfoil hat. I’m amazed that the firearm muder rate in the US isn’t much higher.

    What is a “collection of pipe”?

  7. quixote says

    I’m guessing he means collection of pipe bombs of one kind or another.

    The fact that USU figured she got a lot of threats so they were nothing to worry about and didn’t tell her a) about the concealed carry or b) about their Dumb Brick School of Risk Assessment … unbelievable. If you tried to write fiction with a plot like that everybody would sneer at you.

  8. RJW says

    Perhaps it’s more a case of gun rights trumping free speech, I wonder who will be the first to sue.

    @9 quixote,
    Thanks. It’s a black comedy.

  9. Al Dente says

    Notice that the threats weren’t only against Anita but also against people at the university. Vitale and his merrie men not only don’t care about Anita, they don’t care about the general populace.

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    But what if some Ebola-carrying ten-year-old ISIS gay gangster from Guatemala were to attend Sarkeesian’s talk, quoting Colbert and maybe even lighting up a lavender doobie? Why do you hate America?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *