Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Acts of WAR vs. Acts of PROTEST

Pink Pistols, a conservative LGBT group, marches for their 2nd Amendment rights

One of my friends in L.A. County Oathkeepers read my last piece and commented on it.  She posed the hypothetical scenario: suppose the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas was marching up and down my street protesting, practicing both their First and Second Amendment rights by carrying fully locked and loaded weapons with them.  Would that be an act of war or an act of protest?

My immediate answer might surprise some people.  I answered that, in and of itself, a locked and loaded protest would simply be an act of protest.   This is a reference to the recent armed march Adam Kokesh was planning on carrying out in Washington, D.C. on July 4.  Needless to say, I’m incredibly glad the protest was canceled.  Kokesh and his and of merry conspiratarians would merely be carrying an act of protest, although it would simultaneously have been an act of stupidity.

For starters, D.C. has some strict gun control laws and an armed march around federal buildings like the White House or the Capitol simply wouldn’t fly.  The event would be more fittingly called “Surrender Your Gun to the Government and Get Arrested like a Dumb-Ass Day.”  Furthermore, it would have been a horrible reflection on the libertarian movement, making us look like a ban of militants and rendering us all responsible if somebody’s weapon had a misfire.

As much as I disagree with their methods or even their reasoning, as long as the Kokesh march—or an armed Muslim Brotherhood march—is carried out by people whose sole aim is to protest, then it would be an act of protest.  However, there are multiple dimensions to the scenario, and small details could greatly change the dimensions of such an event.  If the same group congregated in D.C. to protest and display loaded weapons, demonstrating their Second Amendment right but with no intention of firing, yet one of the protestors loses his cool and fires a shot, then the protest becomes an act of war.

If the same group had even the slightest intention of firing one of their weapons, especially around government buildings, then the protest was an act of war before they even arrived at the National Mall or Pennsylvania Avenue.

An armed militia in the streets of Tripoli following skirmishes
Let’s relate this concept to two examples from involving revolutionaries and our American countrymen.  The first example is the Benghazi killings in Libya, where four American diplomats were murdered by militants.  Though the official reports from the State Department claim that the Benghazi incident was a protest that sparked into a violent confrontation, hard evidence points to a militia attack.  If it had truly been a protest, then it would have become an act of war the minute the protestors got violent.  However, the protest was a farce orchestrated by an Islamist militia so they could attack the U.S. embassy.  It was an act of war before they even congregated.

The second example was covered in the last rant: the local militia at Lexington in 1775.  Though a military body, the local militiamen at Lexington assembled themselves on the village green as an act of protest.  They were locked and loaded, but their goal was not to fight the British.  Firing their muskets was certainly in their back-up plan, but that definitely wasn’t their plan of the day.  Word from Boston had already reached Lexington about the British seizing firearms.  The militiamen stood their ground, locked and loaded on the village green, in demonstrating that they wouldn’t give up their personal property.

The British response to their silent protest was an act of war.  The militia stood in a silent formation but did not have their muskets aimed at the enemy.  The enemy, on the other hand, broke the rules of engagement and fired on the militia.  That’s when the confrontation at Lexington became a battle.  The local militia participated in a military operation, but their protest was not an act of war.  Had the British kept moving, there would have been no battle or shots fired whatsoever.

Going back to the Kokesh march, it remains in my opinion a very bad idea, but so long as everything went according to plan, it would have been merely an act of protest.  Again, I’m glad it was canceled.  I see too much room in this scenario for some rookie law enforcement officer to get nervous around so many loaded weapons and possibly fire on the protestors, causing a bloodbath.  I also see ample opportunities for an armed conspiratarian to panic when the police close in, and fire at them.

A final note: as I see it, the Second Amendment is equally important as the First Amendment.  However, armed marches aren’t the best tactic for arguing our Second Amendment rights.  After all, that just makes us libertarians and conservatives look like the violent gun nuts the left makes us out to be.

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Pink Pistols image by "russavia" and militia photo by "Magharebia".  Both photos were obtained from Wikimedia Commons and are used via CC BY 2.0 license.


  1. Zach, your second example, the battle on Lexington Green, paved the way for the little freedom and liberty you have today. The question of weather this march was a good or bad idea is irrelevant, it is something that needs to happen, as was the Lexington Green thing. You say it was canceled, no, it was just put off until more people realize that we have lost our liberty, by not doing what needs to be done.

  2. Bill, your view and my view on the Kokesh gun march is a simple matter of a difference of opinion. We disagree. Deal with it.

    And please find the line in the article where I said the Battle of Lexington was a BAD thing for liberty. Let me know when you find it.