by Chris Bodenner
Megan says the "hysteria" over protesters bringing assault rifles near the president is "ludicrous":
Numerous people claim to believe that this makes it likely, even certain, that someone will shoot at the president. This is very silly, because the president is not anywhere most of the gun-toting protesters, who have showed up at all sorts of events. It is, I suppose, more plausible to believe that they might take a shot at someone else. But not very plausible: the rate of crime associated with legal gun possession or carrying seems to be very low.
Look, just on a basic level, the Secret Service's capacities aren't infinite: protecting the president is hard enough in normal circumstances; throw in the job of making sure gun-toting protestors don't have a sight line on the president, and the agents' jobs become that much more difficult. Even if the gun-toting protestors whose rights McArdle is defending pose no harm to Obama, keeping a constant eye on them takes up resources--resources the Secret Service might need to thwart people who do mean to do harm to the president.
I, like other free-speech nuts, am appalled by "protest pens." But there should probably be "gun pens." Secret Service doesn't have to worry about signs and street puppets.