Peaceful protests are protected by the First Amendment, and we at The Alestle believe such demonstrations are an important part of demanding equality and respect for all. Those practicing this right should not be threatened for doing so.
Protesters walked the streets of St. Louis on Sunday, June 28, to express their anger towards St. Louis City Mayor Lyda Krewson after she publicly announced the names and addresses of individuals who wrote to her about defunding the police. The protesters peacefully marched to her house in hopes of convincing her to resign as mayor.
While protesters marched through a historic district in St. Louis, Mark and Patricia McCloskey walked outside their mansion with guns and began yelling at those who were walking by.
There is an argument that the protesters were trespassing on a private street within a gated community; however, even in a situation like this, gun use is not justified.
Videos show the couple carelessly waving guns around and aiming them at the protesters. Patricia shows a clear lack of gun safety training, as she mishandles the gun by leaving her finger on the trigger.
At that moment, the McCloskeys used their right to bear arms to step on the people’s freedom to assemble. The McCloskeys claim to have been protecting their property, but that alone does not warrant the use of lethal weapons when there was no true threat to their house or belongings.
This is just one of countless examples of the misuse of guns and weapons in our country. Fortunately, no shots were fired in this instance, but bringing the guns out and aiming them at protesters in the first place was both unsafe and unnecessary.
According to social psychology, the presence of weapons often causes tense situations to escalate. This is explained by the weapons effect, which says that violence and aggression can be solicited by the mere presence of a weapon. This is even more true for those who are already aroused, like a group of protesters.
Bringing out weapons often does not protect anyone – or anything – but instead creates uneasiness that leads to violence when there is no danger. As we have seen throughout the past few weeks of protests, it is possible for even the most peaceful of protests to turn violent due to the actions of one individual.
We believe in protecting constitutional rights, but we believe that gun responsibility and safety is also important, and requires being cognizant of the implications that openly carrying a weapon brings. Without any real justification, innocent people were at risk of being injured because the poorly educated gun handlers wanted to “protect” their property.
Human lives are worth more than property. “Defending” your property is not an excuse to put protesters in your crosshairs, because your Second Amendment right does not come before their First Amendment right.