A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that Open Carry Texas is taking the numbers of anyone who calls 911 about their demonstrations and plastering them all over YouTube. Yesterday, Mother Jones revealed that this practice is just one of many ugly, nakedly aggressive and in some cases outright criminal tactics that extreme gun-rights advocates have used against women active in fighting for gun control.
Ever since the Sandy Hook massacre, a small but vocal faction of the gun rights movement has been targeting women who speak up on the issue—whether to propose tighter regulations, educate about the dangers to children, or simply to sell guns with innovative security features. The vicious and often sexually degrading attacks have evolved far beyond online trolling, culminating in severe bullying, harassment, invasion of privacy, and physical aggression. Though vitriol flows from both sides in the gun debate, these menacing tactics have begun to alarm even some entrenched pro-gun conservatives.The experience of Jennifer Longdon is typical. Longdon is a gun owner and a self-described Second Amendment supporter. But her perspective was considerably broadened in 2004, when she was paralyzed from the waist down after her car was raked by bullets. Since then, she has been a vocal advocate for reform of her gun laws, and is an active member of Everytown for Gun Safety, the group formed last year from a merger of Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action, the grassroots group formed by several mothers of Sandy Hook victims. Last spring, a yayhoo showed up at a gun buyback in her hometown of Phoenix and snapped, "You know what was wrong with your shooting? They didn't aim better." Another guy told her, "I know who you are," and recited her home address. Another night, a guy dressed in camo showed up at her house and squirted her with a water gun.
Another example is a woman who called the Plano Police Department about an Open Carry Texas demonstration, prompting Open Carry Texas supporter Brett Sanders to upload a video of her call--plastered with her cell phone number. The woman told Mother Jones that she was forced to change her number after receiving an avalanche of ugly calls and texts, including at least one death threat. But the tactics have backfired--she plans to join Moms Demand Action. As near as I can determine, Sanders has yet to be charged with any crime, even though what Sanders did here is outrageously illegal. However, after a firestorm of criticism, Open Carry Texas president CJ Grisham promised that his group will protect callers' identities from now on.
Mother Jones also revealed something else about the culture of Open Carry Texas. The magazine managed to track down a Facebook video of several of its members using a female mannequin for target practice. They positioned the mannequin with her pants pulled down at her ankles and with her hands raised in surrender, then opened up with assault rifles. Afterwards, they posed with the mannequin, whose arms had been shot away. When Grisham saw it, he commented, "Warms the cockles of my heart." They referred to it as a "mad minute"--a reference both to a short period of withering fire and to Moms Demand Action, whom they sometimes call "mad moms." I have to wonder what it takes to be a woman in that group--after all, I've seen more than a few women in these demonstrations.