Philadelphia State Representative, Stephen Kinsey is in the process of introducing legislation that will prevent people from bringing firearms or any other “dangerous items” to any protest or demonstration.
The new legislation is being pushed in the aftermath of the Charlottesville events:
“Following the events that took place in Charlottesville, it is more important now than ever to protect our First Amendment right,” Kinsey said. “Civics teaches us that the right of people to assemble peacefully to express, promote, pursue and defend their beliefs is fundamental to a functioning democracy. The presence of firearms and other dangerous articles place that fundamental right in grave danger.”
Kinsey believes that the presence of firearms or other dangerous articles at rallies is a threat to the safety of people to peacefully protest; yet critics point out that in Charlottesville, there were zero incidents that involved actual weapons.
“I have absolutely zero tolerance for intolerance,” Kinsey said. “I am relieved that the situation in Charlottesville did not escalate further. However, we must now take the precautionary measures necessary to keep residents safe and that they are able to utilize their First Amendment right. My bill would do just that.”
Many commentators are suggesting that this legislation is an attempt to “weaken the power” of both the First and Second Amendments by making “unenforceable laws” bring the Amendments into a legal battle that will result in the “watering down” of one or both the articles.
What is not mentioned in the legislation is how such a law would be properly enforced. Critics argue that introducing this as law would allow law enforcement to take details and detain protestors before they are allowed entry to any event that is classified as a rally, protest, or demonstration.
He says: “Just as firearms are prohibited in our schools, federal facilities, military bases and hospitals, they should also be prohibited whenever public demonstrations are taking place.” Which would likely involve the use of metal detectors and entry points. The use of detectors and entry points would mean that the police would be in control of how many people are allowed to actually attend and would be able to cite public safety measures on overcrowding on excluding people.
Kinsey’s claim that people possessing firearms “impedes the right to assemble peacefully” is not actually backed up by any evidence or studies. He has yet to gain any co-sponsorship for his bill. While Kinsey argues the possibility of escalation at such events, recent history demonstrates that firearms or other recognized weapons are not associated with such escalations. There have been armed participants as such events without escalation involving firearms. However, unarmed and , in many cases innocent bystanders, have been harmed without the ability to defend themselves against mobs. Mob violence and defenseless victims seem to be more of a concern than citizens who exercise their 1st and 2nd amendment rights simultaneously.