Second Amendment

Gun-Toting Lefties Show Up at Phoenix Rally, Too Bad the ACLU Probably Won't Be Defending Their Speech Rights

The John Brown Gun Club uses the Second Amendment to underline their First Amendment rights.

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Last night in Phoenix, armed protesters stood outside of President Donald Trump's rally. In a time-honored American tradition, they employed their Second Amendment rights to help underscore and highlight their own First Amendment rights and those of their ideological brethren.

The twist, which really isn't much of a twist at all, is that they were lefties.

I've been sticking up for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lately. Right before the events in Charlottesville, the group filed a lawsuit defending the speech rights of a group of clients that included Milo Yiannopoulos (and PETA!). They took a hit for spending money—much of which flowed into the group's coffers after they denounced Trump's immigration policy—on right-wing jerks. Then their role in helping the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally obtain permits drew negative notices, since some objected to the group spending money on Nazis. But the ACLU stood their ground, arguing—as they always have—that defending free speech means defending even the speech of those they otherwise strongly disagree with. And then, when it looked (to an outsider, at least) as if some of the anti-ACLU outrage was dying down, they suddenly caved.

They didn't give up completely, of course. The ACLU will certainly continue to do plenty the same vital work they always have defending free speech. But did soften their decadeslong near-absolutist position on free speech in a way that was almost a non-sequitur, with an exception for armed protesters. This is a weird line to draw, especially in response to Charlottesville, where the actual deadly weapon employed during the protests was a car, not a firearm. (The ACLU has long supported "moderate" gun control.)

National ACLU head Anthony Romero told The Wall Street Journal, "If a protest group insists, 'No, we want to be able to carry loaded firearms,' well, we don't have to represent them. They can find someone else." It is, of course, the ACLU's perfect right to spend their money however they like. But it's the wrong call from the perspective of their legal positioning to defend free speech. The move was likely a conciliatory gesture offered in response to backlash from local chapters, most notably in California, as well as resignations on the board of the Virginia ACLU chapter that initially assisted Unite the Right with permitting. "The events of Charlottesville require any judge, any police chief and any legal group to look at the facts of any white-supremacy protests with a much finer comb," Romero said.

But it's not just white supremacists who come to rallies armed. Far from it. In fact, right away a great case study has popped up in Phoenix, with a cluster of well-armed lefties who say they "won't fire the first shot" but that they are there to make sure their side gets heard. Members of the John Brown Gun Club (yes, that John Brown), which is affiliated with Redneck Revolt, were present in Charlottesville as well, both their speech and their accessories covered under the same laws and precedents that protected the white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and others gathered there. You know, the ones the ACLU was totally committed to defending until last week.

Romero also said the ACLU would consider each group on a case-by-case basis: "It's neither a blanket no or a blanket yes." So I guess there's a chance they'd defend the John Brown Gun Club's armed speech. But if the civil liberties group winds up backing off of supporting these lefty ladies and gents in their time of legal need in order to avoid having to help out their righty counterparts, the whole foundation of the ALCU's free speech defense is weakened.

The road to hell is paved with reasonable exceptions.

NEXT: Why Gorsuch's speech to a private group at the Trump Hotel does not raise serious ethical issues

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  1. The John Brown Gun Club might identify with the left, but most of left might not identify with the Gun Club.

    1. That’ll change depending on whether they think they’ll be able to get away with murdering their opponents.

      1. I find the moronic raging bolshevik horde far more dangerous and scary than a few redneck racists.

        After all, their record of atrocity is far worse. But lets not delve into history anymore.

        Football is coming.

        1. YES, NFL is coming & more discourse on Half-Black Kaepernick & whether he is being black-balled….No pun intended!!!

    2. Does the leftist in the middle even have a magazine in her rifle?

      1. Probably only 5 round mag. Because lefty.

  2. Good for you on calling out this nonsensical standard. This was not unexpected, though, the ACLU has sold out a lot of principles in the past fifteen years to appease Leftists (notably ‘freedom of religion’ and the right of pro-life groups to demonstrate outside of clinics). If you’re only defending the civil liberties of one side then you are nothing more than a partisan group

    1. I guesd no one has heard of the secret 2.5th Amendment:
      The rights of the First Amendment and the Second Amendment shall not be exercised together.

    2. Very Good Point!!!

    3. The ACLU has long been intentionally blind to the Second Amendment. Sanford Levinson described their dilemma in “The Embarrassing Second Amendment”. So it’s no surprise to me that they would draw such an arbitrary and nonsensical line – “Yes, we’ll represent Nazis. No, we won’t represent people who have guns…(because we don’t believe in the Second Amendment).

  3. “arging?as they always have”

    *arguing*

    1. Thank you for the clarification. Up till that moment, I was wondering why there was no other indication we were talking about pirates.

  4. “Members of the John Brown Gun Club (yes, that John Brown), which is affiliated with Redneck Revolt, were present in Charlottesville as well, ”

    I wonder if their guns were included in the total Gov. McAuliffe cited as being so frightening.

    1. Redneck Revolt

      Ah yes, those carpetbagging communists at least have the courtesy to label themselves with solid red handkerchiefs. Unfortunately, nobody finds them remotely intimidating.

      1. Nothing worse than getting your own weapon taken from you and used on you.

  5. I guess if these guys are in a gun club, I’ll have to presume their weapons are real. In previous antifa rallies, a lot of the young’uns are carrying airsoft rifles.

    1. At least the OKers and 3%ers, by and large, appear to have some manner of military orientation and or training (for which they are often derided). These kids couldn’t be screaming ‘gun as accessory’ much louder.

      Neither one bug me to much. The relatively exposed faces, lax posture, and vague political affiliations seem free speech-y to me. It’s the covered faces with hammer-and-sickle kerchiefs with weapons raised celebratory fashion that really screams ‘socialist jihad’ to me.

      1. Also: they have decent trigger discipline and are keeping the muzzles down.

        1. The righties do. Not so such about the Lefties.

    2. Only the guy on the left appears to have a sling for his rifle, which would be a must if you’re planning on guarding the rally for hours. They do all seem to be dressed up to intimindate/show off.

      The guy on the right is holding the AR as if he’s showing it to someone, so I assume that’s his purpose. The girl in the middle is holding it in ready position, which is fine for short periods, but hard to see how she’s going to be holding it like that for hours, especially with one hand as her other hand is occupied with the water bottle.

      So yeah, I’d be surprised if those guns are really loaded, or if those two on the right know how to use the safety and other controls.

      1. They’re airsoft rifles, they weigh nothing that’s how they are able to stand there all day.

      2. They’re airsoft rifles, they weigh nothing that’s how they are able to stand there all day.

      3. They’re airsoft rifles, they weigh nothing that’s how they are able to stand there all day.

        1. squirrels are out in force today

  6. “are there to make sure their side gets heard”

    Except no one’s trying to stop their Marxist friends from being heard. It’s their Marxist friends who don’t respect freedom of speech.

    1. Oh, they respect freedom of speech all right, same as Churchill respected Hitler as a capable and scary doe.

      1. that is an awesome typo

      2. …Hitler as a capable and scary doe.

        A deer. A female deer.

        1. Ray. A Rayban pair of cool sunglasses….That way you can’t see our eyes…makes much more intimidating…

          Come on…everybody, sing along!

  7. But did soften their decadeslong near-absolutist position on free speech in a way that was almost a non-sequitur, with an exception for armed protesters. This is a weird line to draw, especially in response to Charlottesville, where the actual deadly weapon employed during the protests was a car, not a firearm. (The ACLU has long supported “moderate” gun control.)

    I’ll admit I’m still formulating an opinion on this, but my best guess is that once you’re armed, the state no longer has the monopoly on violence, and the ACLU (while not officially) is chock-a-block with pro-state sympathizers. Agitating and suing for free speech rights is still, in the end, asking permission from government.

    If the ACLU loses its case (whatever the free speech case) then that permission has been denied. I don’t think the ACLU has any other strategy than to keep going back to the government and asking again, perhaps in a new venue.

    I guess what I’m saying is, the ACLU, for all of its good work, not only believes in the system, but wants to retain it. Gun toting people threaten that.

    1. once you’re armed, the state no longer has the monopoly on violence

      Being armed is not violence. And the state is supposed to have a monopoly only on initiation of violence, not defensive violence.

      1. According to the left freely expressing anything but leftist speech is violence to be met with actual violence.

  8. CHOOSE A SIDE AND STICK WITH IT – STOP CONFUSING ME!!!

    1. Stop yelling at your penis, Crusty.

      1. does his penis have ears? Are they big jug-ears”

        Does yours?

        Never heard of a pecker that would listen to anyone.

  9. Also, I wonder how long it’ll take the left to notice that when they show up to protests armed, the cops tend to be a little more… shall we say, reluctant to deploy the tear gas and billy clubs?

    I see this as a net positive. If it takes Donald Trump to get the left on board with gun rights, then that may be the single best thing his presidency has achieved.

    1. If it takes Donald Trump to get the left on board with gun rights

      I would say it’s not “left” or “right,” it’s that Arizona has a very gun-friendly culture, which is not the case in large urban areas.

    2. Once police realize that they cannot beat and shoot unarmed suspects with impunity then there will be more of an adherence to the Constitution by government. Or the government of a few million tries to kill at least a hundred million armed citizens.

      1. And once police realize that when LIB leaders tell them to stand down during wide-spread riots, they will realize how lucky to get a night off & still get paid, even if some property is damaged & people are injured & killed!!!

  10. Nothing like defending your group from imaginary conflict.

    The left would love to think that anyone wants to use violence against them at a protest. They are the group using most of the violence.

    I hope this means that lefties will now support the 2nd Amendment. I won’t hold my breath.

    1. It’s hard to say. Many AZ lefties might. We’re a open-carry state and all that jive. Seems most people have a gun and its a pretty common part of life.

      1. Back when I lived in AZ, once you were outside the metro Phoenix area the most common place to see firearms was while gassing the car. Everyone carries.

      2. yep, I joke, “it’s Arizona. Even liberals own guns.”

  11. The road to hell is paved with reasonable exceptions.

    It’s a little early to drink, but rules are rules.

    1. You know who else had rules?

  12. The Mulford Act was a 1967 California bill that repealed a law allowing public carrying of loaded firearms. Named after Republican assemblyman Don Mulford, the bill was crafted in response to members of the Black Panther Party who were conducting armed patrols of Oakland neighborhoods while they were conducting what would later be termed copwatching.They garnered national attention after the Black Panthers marched bearing arms upon the California State Capitol to protest the bill.
    AB-1591 was authored by Don Mulford (R) from Oakland, John T. Knox (D) from Richmond, Walter J. Karabian (D) from Monterey Park, Alan Sieroty (D) from Los Angeles, and William M. Ketchum (R) from Bakersfield, it passed both Assembly (controlled by Democrats 42:38) and Senate (split 20:20) and was signed by the governor on July 28.
    -wiki
    A little bit of misstating the facts that Republicans were the only politicians that passed this gun control measure. Reagan used to be Democrat BTW.

    1. Needs more bold and labeling.

      1. What’re hot links, chopped liver?

        1. Diane Reynolds (Paul.)|8.23.17 @ 1:07PM|#
          What’re hot links, chopped liver?

          Could be. Hot links are typically made from non-liver beef or a beef/pork mixture.

      2. Learned from you.

        1. Good one.

          I think you need to spend more time pointlessly lecturing us about the left/right schism.

          1. Good one.

            I think you need to spend more time pointlessly lecturing us about everything.

            Oh and more lame links that you think make you somebody.

            1. Yes, I think I’m somebody. Nice one.

              1. Thanks I learned from you.

  13. I see lefties have finally turned to bearing arms in order to protest the freedom of speech.

    1. This civil war is not going to start itself.

      1. That’s why we have to pull down statues and erase any record of the first civil war from history.

        1. In Dallas They’re creating a “Taskforce” to pick how they’re going to tear down the monuments and what they’re going to do with them. It’s not really a task force it’s just a bunch of left wing nuts. What a bunch of asshole Nazi wannbes.

  14. Whatever happened to that Black gun rights activist from Philadelphia Reason was posting about a year or so ago?

    1. He was probably killed in a traffic stop while reaching for his insurance card.

  15. Fuck man, you know the cops would just start shooting all of these 2nd Amendment dudes if anything ever went down at a protest that necessitated the use of a firearm. Fucked if you’re armed fucked if you’re not.

    1. At least you can shoot back.

      I would be willing to bet that police will think twice before shooting if there are armed persons not committing crimes and just protesting.

      1. I’ll also take some of those bets. The whole point of “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” is the existence of a Free–meaning uncoerced–State. This is why looters hate the 2A, and they hate the Confederacy because it was a tax revolt against the protective tariff act drafted before Lincoln was even elected! All of this was in my parents’ High School history book, “The Rise of American Civilization”.

    2. The Bundy supporters who went to trial were mostly found not guilty by juries.

      If police are shooting peaceful but armed protestors and then being killed themselves with the non-police shooters being acquitted, it would put a serious damper on unchecked police murder.

      1. with the non-police shooters being acquitted

        And there’s the scupper right there.

      2. and that would be a good result. Unchecked police killings are NOT what we are all about.

    3. These people are mostly carrying rifles and have body armor. I don’t know a lot of cops that would voluntarily start an engagement with 4 or 5 of these people in the open, let alone 10 or more. The casualties on both sides would be pretty extensive. Also, it’d be quite historic in a very negative way.

  16. BREAKING NEWS: The ACLU finds itself in danger from frailties that plague all human institutions.

  17. Romero also said the ACLU would consider each group on a case-by-case basis: “It’s neither a blanket no or a blanket yes.” So I guess there’s a chance they’d defend the John Brown Gun Club’s armed speech. But if the civil liberties group winds up backing off of supporting these lefty ladies and gents in their time of legal need in order to avoid having to help out their righty counterparts, the whole foundation of the ALCU’s free speech defense is weakened.

    Something tells me they’ll be a lot less likely to defend an armed “right wing” protest group than they will a group like the John Brown Gun Club. Just a hunch I have.

    1. The ACLU knows which gun-totting group is going to get front page media portrayal as a threat, and which one isn’t even going to be mentioned. Outside of fringe backwaters like Reason that is.

    1. Only if I was in an 0 fer 54 slump…

  18. At least they didn’t shove any reporters this time.

  19. Keep telling yourself that, meanwhile, the mental gymnastics they’ll go through to justify defending this but not any right-wing groups will get a 9.9 from the Eat German judge.

  20. The ACLU has a long history of getting squishy on civil rights when they conflict with progressive dogma. While I applaud their recent steps towards a backbone, they quickly retreat in the face of hostile tweets. They’ve been particularly squishy when anything to do with gender politics enters the picture.

    https://blog.simplejustice.us/2016 /12/30/free-speech-aclu-conditions-apply/

    https://blog.simplejustice.us/2016 /07/17/beware-the-loyal-opposition-aclu-edition/

  21. Its getting harder and harder to distinguish between “left” and “right” because the distinctives formerly associated with each group are changing.

    Now we have a libertarian gun club, showing up armed to protect their free speech rights, declaring they are of the left. And some nazi white supremacist types pretending they’re of the right.

    Looks like the lines are melting as anarchy and chaos roars on in. Might have to get a new set of player cards pretty soon.

    1. I think it safe to say they are not ‘pretending’ to be on the left.

  22. “lefties”? “libertarian”?? Did anyone bother to look at their website???
    The John Brownies are proudly open ANARCHbleepingISTS! If you want to call them “lefties” that is at best a stretch, but “libertarian”? No WAY!!
    F’pete’sake do your homework, people.

  23. If the ACLU hadn’t defended the UTR protest’s first amendment rights, that idiot would never have hit that woman with his car, and the left would have been deprived of a very juicy talking point that they’ve been exploiting now for 2 weeks.

    Nazis and white nationalists marching helps the leftists, by reminding minority groups why they need to vote Dem and reminding wealthy leftists why they need to contribute to SPLC/NAACP/ADL/etc. That’s why the ACLU defends their right to march, not any matter of principle. Same reason the NRA should be financing demonstrations calling for gun control.

  24. Just one question- when did guns become protected speech? If anything they are instruments of intimidation aimed at preventing the exercise of the First amendment rights. Facing down the barrel of a gun, isn’t conducive to rational argument no matter which side is carrying it. Just because the nation sees gun ownership and open carry as dearly loved traditions- sort of the Wild West view of America; although even the wildest part of the West usually outlawed carrying guns into town, doesn’t meant that the ACLU must accept that reasoning. They support free speech which means that they should support the ability to speak freely without having to brave a line of gun toting idiots on either side

    1. Your argument might have some merit if anyone had actually pointed their weapon at someone. Because absent justification that action would be a crime.

      But absent criminal behavior firearms possession is not a ‘tradition’ it is a right.

    2. Just one question- when did guns become protected speech?

      Um. The article isn’t arguing that keeping and bearing arms is a First Amendment issue.

  25. If these are leftists where are their AK-47s? ….I am highly skeptical about their political alignment based on their choice of arms.

    1. Portly knock-kneed one on the right side of the photo is sporting some sort of AK variant.

  26. The ACLU will continue to advocate for any and all left wing ‘rights’, while doing one-a-decade defense of the worst of the right to show they ‘represent everyone’.

    And that is one of the worst posed pictures I ever saw outside of democratic candidates.

    1. The ACLU will continue to advocate for any and all left wing ‘rights’, while doing one-a-decade defense of the worst of the right to show they ‘represent everyone’.

      They do it several times each and every year … most notably in 1977, when they defended the right of Nazis to march in uniforms wearing swastikas, in Skokie. Illinois. That took a huge hit in memberships and donations. But continued.

      They defended Citizens United as a free speech issue.

      An reversed the official censure of a WA Supreme Court Justice (libertarian Richard Sanders) for addressing a pro-life rally in Seattle. (He would have to recuse himself on any cases where pro-life was a issue, but he was censured for merely talking. no case involved)

      They defended ……..

      Do not even our worst political enemies deserve praise for actions we agree with? Is behavior more important than tribal affiliation?

  27. Free Speech is not an absolute right, nor is right to bear arms, or any other fundamental right, when they conflict with each other.

    To protect safety and other public interests, the constitutional standard was established in 1919. (Schenck v United States) Is there a threat or risk of “clear and present danger.”

    Circumstances matter. The violent aggression, beatings mayhem and murder launched by Nazi/KKK protesters in Charlottesvile, against unarmed counterprotesters — practicing their right to peaceably assemble — presents a challenging precedent. Does the mere assembly of a KKK/Nazi group, rallying or marching, armed with guns and clubs. carrying riot shields, constitute a threat or risk of “clear and present danger.” If not, why not?

    Is there a difference between defending hate speech and defending hate (when driving or justifying violence.)?
    We already know there is no free speech right to yell “fire” in a crowed theater. Can the same connection be made to yelling Jewish and/or non-white hatred, when we’ve seen it used to incite tragic violence?

    1. Unarmed counterprotesters is about as factually reliable as your determination of exactly who started the violence.

      But thanks for trying.

    2. Does the mere assembly of a KKK/Nazi group, rallying or marching, armed with guns and clubs. carrying riot shields, constitute a threat or risk of “clear and present danger?”
      No.
      If not, why not?
      Because there was no possibility of conflict as the protesters “merely assembled.” The “threat of danger” started when the counter-protesters showed up.

      We already know there is no free speech right to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Can the same connection be made to yelling Jewish and/or non-white hatred, when we’ve seen it used to incite tragic violence?
      Falsely yelling “fire” in a theater is, first, unexpectedly inflicted on a confined audience not expecting it and, second, thereby likely to cause panic resulting in innocent people being injured.
      The protesters announced, in advance, their intention to protest. The counter-protesters announced, in advance, their intention to counter-protest. Everybody intelligent stayed away. Nothing anyone yelled was unexpected, and there were no innocent people to panic or to injure. You’re comparing apples with hand grenades.
      As far as the general application of the “You can’t falsely yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater” rule, note that it never requires you to leave your voice outside. I routinely carry in theaters, knowing it’s illegal to unnecessarily brandish or discharge my handgun.

  28. Cosmotarian magazine editor is “sticking up for” the ACLU, an admitted white supremacist org?

    Nick yucking it up with Richard Spencer at a cocktail party was just the tip of the iceberg!

  29. Well if both sides want to start shooting at each other, I don’t see a problem. It’s a self correcting issue in the long run.

  30. A general tendency to scorn looters is hereby waived in favor of these gutsy kids. I recall the Weathermen. These were Unabomber-type commie whack jobs absolutely expert at blowing themselves up before mohammedans made it fashionable. The icing on the cake was that their mystical conservative enemies–likewise enamored of the initiation of force–were scared shirtless of them. That and breaking Tim Leary out of the hoosegow are the nearest thing to useful work I’ve ever seen Altrurian socialists perform–before this.

  31. “Last night in Phoenix, armed protesters stood outside of President Donald Trump’s rally. In a time-honored American tradition, they employed their Second Amendment rights to help underscore and highlight their own First Amendment rights and those of their ideological brethren.”

    1. Why wasn’t that protest cancelled and the protesters driven away “because of the potential for violence”??!!
    (assuming the protesters had permits in the first place)
    2. Where was that time honored right in Charlottesville?
    3. From the twitter/facebook thing; “They told me they’re in Phoenix to protect protesters from white nationalists”. Where are the cries of vigilantism? The left always says we don’t need guns to protects ourselves. that is what the police are for. (the courts disagree that the police have to protect us, but that is a different rant)

    I call bullshit

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