A couple of people have asked me about my thoughts on Adam Kokesh’s planned march in Washington DC. What makes the march worthy of conversation is that it will involve individuals marching with loaded rifles in spite of Washington DC’s prohibition against such activities.
If it was anybody but Kokesh was organizing the march I would expect an convenient excuse to cancel the event to be made shortly before it was scheduled to begin. While I’m not the biggest Adam Kokesh fan due to his abrasive nature he has proven himself willing to spit in the face of the law, which makes this event a real possibility in my mind. With that said, it sounds like the event does have a cop out, Kokesh mentions that there needs to be 1,000 participants for the event to occur. This makes sense since acts of civil disobedience require a mass of people large enough to discourage the police from moving in on the crowd.
If the event actually occurs and there are enough participants to discourage the police from interfering I think this march will go down without incident. History demonstrates that mass acts of civil disobedience, if uninterrupted by agents of the state, usually go down peacefully. However I question whether or not the event will be allowed to occur. Who’s to say that Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) won’t arrest the primary organizers of this event a few days before it’s scheduled to begin? The FBI has a history of pulling such stunts. If the FBI doesn’t pull such shenanigans and the event does occur I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more agent provocateurs were inserted into the group specifically to cause trouble. Again such tactics aren’t unprecedented. It will be important for the organizers of this event to warn participants to immediately disassociate themselves with anybody in the crowd trying to instigate violence and to actively intervene in attempted acts of violence. There are many ways for this event to be prevented from happening or twisted into something ugly if it does happen but that’s a potential risk of any acts of mass civil disobedience.
Many gun rights activists have expressed concern about the image that this kind of event could create but that’s not really a concern of mine. No matter what we do as gun owners the advocates of gun control will hate us. In the eyes of the most zealous and outspoken gun control advocates we’re vicious monsters who want nothing more than to murder every wholesome person in the world. If a bunch of gun owners perform an armed march on Washington DC the gun control advocates will scream bloody murder. If gun owners don’t perform an armed march on Washington DC the gun control advocates will still scream bloody murder. We can’t win with them so we shouldn’t worry ourselves with what they think.
I’ve also heard several gun rights activists express the fact that it will only takes one person to do something stupid for this event to turn into a bloodbath. To that I can only ask, do we really believe what we preach about gun rights? Do we not believe that an armed society is a polite society? Do we not believe that an increased presence of armed individuals increases the cost of performing violent and therefore discourages such behavior? I do believe those things and therefore am not very concerned about one of our own doing something stupid, at least not stupid enough to start a firefight. The agent provocateur risk springs to mind when fellow gun rights activists mention the risk of one of our own doing something stupid but that risk can also be mitigated as I explained above.
I have no issue with the idea of the event itself. I’m a proponent of civil disobedience because it’s the only tactic that has proven to be effective at enacting meaningful political change in this country. If the march happens it will send a powerful and simple message to anybody watching: we the people are not afraid of the state. The point of civil disobedience is to demonstrate to observers that the state’s laws are meaningless unless people are willing to obey them. An armed march on Washington DC may be the act necessary to demonstrate the state’s inability to regulate firearms or it may not. Either way it’ll be interesting to see what comes of this event. I wish the participants the best of luck and encourage them to follow examples set by previous mass civil disobedience events by remaining entirely nonviolent.