A very strange thing has happened since last weekend’s dreadful violence in Charlottesville. White supremacists used virtually every form of weapon except guns, yet somehow the Second Amendment is now under fire. Even worse, those who lawfully exercise the right to keep and bear arms now have fewer defenders when they also choose to speak.
It started with Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe. In remarks that were oddly enough edited out of a New York Times article, McAuliffe claimed that “80 percent of the people here had semiautomatic weapons.” He further asserted that militia members “had better equipment than our state police.” He also said that white supremacists had weapons “stashed around the city.”
The Virginia state police disputed the governor’s claims, stating that they’d specifically looked for weapons stashes and “no weapons were located.” Further, they assured the public that they were not outgunned by militias. A spokesperson said the police “were equipped with more-than-adequate specialized tactical and protective gear for the purpose of fulfilling their duties” to protect the people present at the protests.
No matter. Claims that gun-toting militia members had somehow “chilled” free speech rocketed around the Web. Yet who, exactly, was deterred from speaking last weekend? Not only were people “speaking,” they were shrieking, chanting, yelling, and arguing. Few were deterred even from brawling.
by David French