Even Eric Reed, the outspoken founder of Gun Rights Across America, agrees that these tactics are unnecessary and damaging to the cause.
Reed spoke with CJ Grishsm, leader of Open Carry Texas.
Of particular concern are states with loose open carry laws, where already, some armed Trump supporters have shown an interest in making their presence known at voting sites.“The idea that people would be standing outside the polls with guns, or even inside the polls with guns, clearly has the potential to turn people away. In theory, that could set up a confrontation between federal voter intimidation laws and state open-carry laws (federal law would generally trump state law).
There’s a long history of this,” said Deuel Ross, an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which is very active in voting rights litigation. However, according to Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, federal laws are rarely ever used to address voter intimidation claims.“There’s not just much of a history of the federal government using them,” Clarke said, adding that her group, which monitors elections to ensure all eligible voters can cast a ballot, is more reliant on state and local systems to address instances of voter intimidation.
Undisputed is that the four women inside the restaurant were extremely frightened.
Arguably, 40 people loitering in a suburban parking lot wielding shotguns, hunting rifles, AR-15s, and AK-47s can be intimidating.
"Behavior may include, but is not limited to, epithets, derogatory comments or slurs and lewd propositions, assault, impeding or blocking movement, offensive touching or any physical interference with normal work or movement, and visual insults, such as derogatory posters or cartoons."(1) A person commits the offense of intimidation when, with the purpose to cause another to perform or to omit the performance of any act, the person communicates to another, under circumstances that reasonably tend to produce a fear that it will be carried out, a threat to perform without lawful authority any of the following acts: (1) A person is guilty of ethnic intimidation if that person maliciously, and with specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person's race, color, religion, gender, or national origin, does any of the following: (3) Regardless of the existence or outcome of any criminal prosecution, a person who suffers injury to his or her person or damage to his or her property as a result of ethnic intimidation may bring a civil cause of action against the person who commits the offense to secure an injunction, actual damages, including damages for emotional distress, or other appropriate relief.His group plans to be observing elections in Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina.“These are places with a history of voter intimidation and also very liberal gun laws,” Ross said. Even though the legal language surrounding voter intimidation doesn’t specifically mention weapons, certain actions with firearms could certainly be interpreted as such, depending on the context, legal experts and voting rights advocates told TPM.“People going to the polls, and just bringing their guns with them, even it that’s not waving around threateningly, going to a polling place where you have a gun clearly can be intimidating for both black and white voters, because of the history of violence that we’ve seen,” the NAACP LDF’s Ross said.Trump has for months complained about the possibility of an election somehow “rigged” against him, but recently, the rhetoric has taken on a more ominous, and even racially-tinged tone, that specifically mentions voter fraud at the ballot box. An Alabama gun rights activist was prosecuted on state voter obstruction charges for bringing a holstered gun to a polling place in the 2014 election, though elsewhere in the state, open-carry has been allowed at election sites.Threat, criminal threatening (or threatening behavior) is the crime of intentionally or knowingly putting another person in fear of bodily injury."Threat of harm generally involves a perception of injury...physical or mental damage..or instance of injury, or a material and detriment or loss to a person." Threatening behaviors may be conceptualized as a maladaptive outgrowth of normal competitive urge for interrelational dominance generally seen in animals.