I think bringing guns to a town hall meeting about health care makes no sense at all (unless you're on your way to Afghanistan or Iraq, or police duty, or something like that, and have no where to put your gun(s).). The people bringing the guns, however, seem to do so to make a point about freedom–freedom for guns, I suppose. But we were talking about health care, so I don't get it. Despite the ravings of several enumerated lunatics, a system of universal health care derived from obligatory taxes is (1) clearly not unconstitutional and (2) it has nothing to do with guns (other than fixing the wounds caused by them). Finally, few people want to argue with the guy with an assault rifle. Maybe that's the point. If it is, poo-poo on the gun toters for trying to intimidate people.
Having said that, Now here's a crappy argument from E.J.Dionne against the bringing of guns:
The Obama White House purports to be open to the idea of guns outside the president's appearances. "There are laws that govern firearms that are done state or locally," Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, said on Tuesday. "Those laws don't change when the president comes to your state or locality."
Gibbs made you think of the old line about the liberal who is so open-minded he can't even take his own side in an argument.
What needs to be addressed is not the legal question but the message that the gun-toters are sending.
[For the record, I can't find the transcript of this remark, so I can't tell what question was asked] Dionne mocks Gibbs' (political) answer in one paragraph, and then affirms it in the second one. It's not a legal question, obviously; the people with the guns were not violating the law (it's up to local law enforcement to maintain order, etc.). As another political matter, by the way, Gibbs knows (I guess) that had he said, "shame on the gun people," we would be talking about that, and not, for instance, health care. I can think of an example of where someone said something about a white guy with a gun and our liberal media changed the subject from health care (any subject but that) to the white guy with a gun–care to guess what I'm talking about anyone?
Along those lines, Dionne wants to do the same thing:
On the contrary, violence and the threat of violence have always been used by those who wanted to bypass democratic procedures and the rule of law. Lynching was the act of those who refused to let the legal system do its work. Guns were used on election days in the Deep South during and after Reconstruction to intimidate black voters and take control of state governments.
Yes, I have raised the racial issue, and it is profoundly troubling that firearms should begin to appear with some frequency at a president's public events only now, when the president is black. Race is not the only thing at stake here, and I have no knowledge of the personal motivations of those carrying the weapons. But our country has a tortured history on these questions, and we need to be honest about it. Those with the guns should know what memories they are stirring.
I remember seeing a black guy with an AR-15 (that's an assault rifle of sorts). Besides, I wouldn't expect someone inclined to bring a gun to a debate about health care had in mind the vaguely relevant question of civil rights. As in the other case, this is not what it seems.
The gun guys and gals, I imagine, want to change the subject from the content of the debate inside of the hall, to the fact that someone had a gun outside of it. They're as silly as the ravings of the "Obama wants to ration toilet paper set." Let's ignore them.