The man with the AR-15 rifle (part 1)
The Mile Square, Indianapolis – March 24, 2018. That snow – thick and heavy – rolled up quickly into the ball of a snowman by a little girl unaware that the man fifty yards away was hoisting a loaded AR-15 rifle across his shoulder. This was the youth-led "March for Our Lives" anti-violence gun rally and it was intended to be peaceful. The man wore a camouflage hat, thermal gloves and jacket, and sunglasses – despite the day's rainy, snowy mix. This was not his first rodeo; he had knowingly ventured into the lion's den well aware of the consequences. Some of those consequences came at him with extreme hatred, vulgarity and in-your-face resentment.
Nearby, a dozen uniformed Indianapolis Police Department officers stood watch over the gathering. Many spectators wondered if this was legal for a man to open carry a loaded rifle on the downtown streets. The police officers said, "Yes, as long as the man doesn't break any laws. And right now he's not."
This incensed many of the adults and youth even more, to the point of froth. One woman, who carried a young daughter – with other kids lingering nearby – shouted: "We do not feel safe with you here! We do not feel safe with you here! We do not feel safe with you here!" Some teachers said they would never carry guns into the classroom or the school.
"I've been a teacher for more than thirty years," the rifleman said.
"That makes me feel safe," said a male observer, sarcasm thick in his voice.
"I'm glad you feel that way," the rifleman said. The snow fell steadily, but the temperatures of those in attendance did not.
The crowd grew larger, more robust.
"Americans should have the right to safety; why do you want to take away our rights to safety?" said a young, fervent male.
"Why do you want to take away MY rights to safety?" the rifleman said.
"You shouldn't have a right to a gun. You have no right. This isn't 1776 anymore."
The rifleman's response – he howled a hearty laugh from somewhere deep within – proceeded, "The Constitution. Have you read the Constitution?"
"I know more about the Constitution than you! Look in the mirror! You're a racist! And a terrorist!"
"Just because you yell and say it doesn't mean it's true," said the rifleman.
"Well, who cares because I can say what I want because I have the First Amendment right!"
"Yeah, I've got the Second and I've got the First too," he said. "So here I am." He clinched his fist and raised it above the crowd, stabbing the air, and began a bold chant: "This is what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!"
And at that moment that was my thought exactly: this IS what democracy looks like.
Watch what happens next...