Bonnie Erbe: Open Carry Laws Like Letting Kids Play With 'Live Hand Grenades'

Not one to disappoint her fans at NewsBusters, PBS "To the Contrary" host and U.S. News & World Report contributing editor Bonnie Erbe again shot from the hip with factually-challenged anti-gun rights bluster in an August 18 blog post.

Watching CNN between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Monday, I was treated to the sight of a young man with an automatic weapon strapped to his back across the street from a presidential rally in Arizona. This is not the first time armed persons have appeared outside a building where the president is making an appearance.

Of course the man she is referring to, who identified himself  to the media only by his first name "Chris," was carrying a semi-automatic AR-15, not an automatic weapon. Yet in the next paragraph, perhaps thinking automatic and semi-automatic are as interchangeable as the terms flammable and inflammable, Erbe described the AR-15 as a "semiautomatic mass killing machine":

This is a horrifying and, quite frankly, ridiculous development. It is perfectly legal, according to the CNN anchor I watched, for Arizonans to parade in public with all manner of weapons, including semiautomatic mass killing machines.

Open-carry laws in states like Arizona and New Hampshire are "tantamount to allowing children to play with live hand grenades" insisted Erbe, before ending her blog post by citing mental illness, a sour economy, and conservative talk radio as virtually guaranteeing that someone somewhere will "be maimed or killed" as a result.

Yet Erbe has no evidence to cite of past incidents that would predict future behavior, nor does she seem aware that the police and the gun-packing protesters had been in contact with each in advance (emphasis mine):

Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill on Monday said officers explained the law to some people who were upset about the presence of weapons at the protest.

Hill told CNN on Tuesday that the widely broadcast protest was no different than any other for law enforcement, in that investigators with the "community response unit" had communicated with the group ahead of time.

"We try to have as much open communication as possible so we know what to expect and how to prepare," he said, adding that the police department relayed information about Monday's to federal law enforcement.

He added that because of Arizona's open carry law, it's not uncommon for protesters to pack heat at demonstrations.

So the police know what the law says and what to expect. Demonstrators openly carrying firearms also know the law and that police will respect their rights while expecting civil protests. Open carry, it seems according to both police and protesters in Arizona, seems to work for Arizonans.

The rules and regulations for open and concealed carry differ from state to state and it seems the Secret Service is well-equipped to handle the varying laws and customs of the several states the President to which the President travels.

That may be good enough for the professionals, but honestly, what do they know? It's not like they ever hosted the taxpayer-subsidized version of "The View."

Guns PBS US News Bonnie Erbe