“Open Carry” Gun at Fair
As organizer, almost the entire day of the Vancouver Peace and Justice Fair was great! However, “Open Carry” Gun supporters came without notice with their guns and booth to the park where we had the fair. We had rented the park and porta-potties, and paid the mandatory insurance. Along with Habitat for Humanity, Council for the Homeless, YWCA, The Humane Society, NWYM of Friends, and over 65 other groups that work to help people—we had to share the park with people toting guns and getting all the news coverage, taking away from our goal to highlight groups that work for peace and justice. Yes, frankly, it is much bigger news to have folks packing their hardware than a bunch of non-profits inviting other people to join them. We had done all the work to be there, but they could be there due to our right to freedom of speech. I respect that! I LOVE my freedom of speech! (Hey, I blog, don’t I?) But it bugs me that they did this without talking to us about it, even when they knew we had reserved the park and they knowingly intruded on our park rental. Later on they sent us a link to their Facebook page where they “LOL’d” (laughed out loud) about dominating the news coverage.
During the day I approached the group, after having thought carefully what to say and how to say it. They were unresponsive. They said they had the law on their side, but not the local city rules. When dealing with people that don’t seem to respect rules, what do you do? What would Jesus do? I always ask myself that. Hmmm….Jesus did overturn the tables of the money changers in the temple when they were taking advantage of the people’s need for sacrificial animals. The Open Carry group DID have tables at the fair, but turning over their tables wouldn’t really be the kind of publicity we were hoping for! Jesus also said, “turn the other cheek.” What DOES that mean? It sounds so reasonable when you read it in the Bible. I’ve heard some people say it means to do nothing so that the attacker is ashamed. Does it mean not to allow someone to goad you into doing the wrong thing? Applying it to situations in my own life isn’t easy for me. We later learned that a group can come with signs to the park to exercise their freedom of speech. People can openly carry guns in the park as well. But they are not allowed to bring a booth into an event at the park without permission. That is beyond freedom of speech and the right to bear arms. Do I write back to these folks saying what we have learned? If so, how do I phrase it?
What about you? What does Jesus say to you when someone is doing the wrong thing on purpose? When it is right to “overturn tables,” and when it is right to “turn the other cheek?” Would Jesus have come up with another option?
Contribution from Kay Ellison, West Hills Friends