Saturday, August 30, 2014

The flip side of your Second Amendment rights

A so-called militia member got himself shot at by a Border Patrol agent yesterday.
Border Patrol spokesman Omar Zamora said agents had been chasing a group of immigrants east of Brownsville Friday afternoon when an agent saw a man holding a gun near the Rio Grande.

The agent fired four shots, but did not hit the man. The man then dropped his gun and identified himself as a member of a militia. Zamora said no other details were immediately available.

Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said, "We really don't need the militia here." He mentioned the several law enforcement agencies already in the area and added, "[The militia's presence] just creates a problem from my point of view, because we don't know who they are."

This was a foreseeable outcome of the Second Amendment obsession afflicting a segment of our population.

I've repeatedly grumbled about armed civilians creating fear, uncertainty and doubt among the rest of us. In "A cop's take on the Aurora tragedy" I imagined a police officer's confusion on arriving at a scene like the Aurora, CO, movie theater shooting if there are multiple armed persons in the crowd:

Which of the gun toters was the aggressor and which were merely defending themselves? Do the gun toters themselves know? What if, in the heat of the moment, the true aggressor diverts law enforcement's attention to a self-defender: "That guy in the tan jacket just started shooting!"
My concern primarily has been the possibility of a free-for-all erupting in an otherwise peaceful, ordinary environment. I hadn't considered the possibility that Second Amendment absolutists could intervene in already tense situations like the border crisis. (I suppose some if not all of Cliven Bundy's idiotic supporters are Second Amendment absolutists, but he is enough of a cancer on the body politic that it hardly matters whether he and his cohorts are gun nuts too.)

The so-called militia member in Texas had the good sense to recognize that he was the one creating fear, uncertainty and doubt in the situation. Maybe that's how Second Amendment absolutists intend things should always play out. I'm not that sanguine. I could just as easily imagine a less cautious or more belligerent self-anointed militia member taking a more aggressive stand. In this case, for instance, the so-called militia member was on private property. Someone with a greater sense of grievance against the government, a not uncommon state of mind among Second Amendment absolutists, might have decided that the Border Patrol agent was trespassing, or at the very least threatening a private citizen's safety on private property — actions that would justify shooting back, or even shooting preemptively.

Anyway, I'm sure somebody among the Second Amendment absolutists will turn this incident into a rallying cry — against putatively overzealous government agents, for instance. But for those of us living in the real world, this incident is just another reason to shake our heads sadly and lament whatever delusions have led some of our neighbors to adopt such an extreme interpretation of the right to bear arms.

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