You don’t need to print the American flag on an AR-15. If you’re holding one—indoors, with your finger on the trigger, as former Navy SEAL and current representative from Montana Ryan Zinke is well trained to do above—people will know you’re American. Guns are an essential part of the American experiment. They’re what separated us from Britain in the 18th century, and they’re what separates a new generation of Americans from their faces in the 21st. The Second Amendment guarantees that we all get as many as we want. And despite juridical and popular disagreement over what the authors of the Constitution meant by “well-regulated militia,” I think we can agree it’s unconstitutional to regulate guns at all.
In April, gun owners gathered outside the Michigan state capitol building in Lansing for an Open Carry Rally, in which they showed off their loaded guns to urge Michigan legislators to loosen gun control laws. “It’s wonderful to be around like-minded people who understand how the government should work,” attendee Johann Deffert told Michigan Live, adding that the crowd was very diverse. In theory, of course, our system of government works entirely on the basis of like-minded people. In practice, a little over half of Americans support tightening gun control laws, and only 8% think they should be loosened. As an open carry rally reminds us, however, that 8% is politically engaged and heavily armed.