Armed men seen mixing with protesters outside recent events held by President Obama acted within the law, the White House said Tuesday, attempting to allay fears of a security threat.
Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said people are entitled to carry weapons outside such events if local laws allow it. "There are laws that govern firearms that are done state or locally," he said. "Those laws don't change when the president comes to your state or locality."
Anti-gun campaigners disagreed with Gibbs's comments, voicing fears that volatile debates over health-care reform are more likely to turn violent if gun control is not enforced.
"What Gibbs said is wrong," said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "Individuals carrying loaded weapons at these events require constant attention from police and Secret Service officers. It's crazy to bring a gun to these events. It endangers everybody."
Kudos to President Obama, the Secret Service, and law enforcement agencies everywhere, who have been unified in a calm, appropriately Constitutional response to the recent spate of open carry protests near his appearances.
Mr. Obama could hardly do better in terms of simultaneously calling for his supporters to ratchet down their own rhetoric on the issue and sending a signal that he's not about to unleash the black helicopters to confiscate the firearms of American citizens.
One does wonder, however, if his supporters are willing to listen.