A gun owner in Maine, Linc Sample, has set off controversy by placing a sign on his property that declares, “Black rifles matter. Yes, we have ’em. No, you can’t take ’em.” While fears about no one thinking of the children have yet to surface, business owners are worried that tourists may be turned away.
Sample is engaged in a bit of effective, if unoriginal trolling. When asked what motivated him, he answered, referring to attempts to make the sale of various classes of guns illegal, “That’s really a trigger for me—the assault weapons ban.” A tourist from Connecticut, Paul Mayor, felt the need to state what is abundantly clear, saying, “People are ignorant; they shouldn’t be putting things out like that It’s taking a shot obviously at Black Lives Matter.”
Someone give that man a gold star—for his last sentence, anyway. It’s a shot against Black Lives Matter? Yes. But claiming that this is out of “ignorance,” the word popular today for everything someone, often youthful, doesn’t like, is off the mark. Sample knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s exercising his freedom of expression to criticize attempts at curtailing other rights. To suggest that people shouldn’t put up signs—especially ones that borrow from and comment on current events—is to show that it’s not just gun rights that are under attack.
One possible objection being raised is suggested in a tweet by @blackboyfly: “Y’all really think our systematic oppression is a joke, don’t y’all?” It may come as a surprise to him—and yes, he does clarify that he/him are his pronouns—but a person can understand the need for reforms while still finding humor in the situation. What may have been meant here is a concern over cultural appropriation, an act in which a member of the majority adopts something worn, played, or otherwise done by someone in the minority.
Contrary to tender feelings, though, culture generally and protest movements in particular take place in the public domain. And the nature of a free society is that when you speak in public, you have to expect replies. Some of those replies will be attacks on your thinking. No special considerations will be made for how strongly you feel committed to your positions.
Of course, the subject of guns is guaranteed to inspire controversy. As I said above, that’s clearly Sample’s intention, and he’s achieved that goal with his sign. Having a conversation about the abuse of rights—whether we’re talking about gun rights or the right of all of us, including minorities, to be treated fairly by the police—is something the whole country needs to engage in again and again until the message is received and followed. And we won’t protect one right if we ignore others or seek favoritism for only some—rights or people.
There is one final point to make here. My parents dragged me to Orlando when I was a teenager, and I lived a couple of years in Santa Fe, NM. Tourism is one of the key sectors of the economy for many places, and this creates tension with the natives and long-time residents. But unless we want a theme park or a fast-food chain to be the only thing to see wherever tourists go, we have to accept that a location is interesting precisely because of its local character. The presence of a Black Rifles Matter sign is one example of that. People who want uniformity should stay home and watch television.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.