SPLC president: Charlottesville shows states need to change open carry laws
By Brian Seay
A car slams into a group of counter protestors following a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (Photo: Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress)
The president of the Southern Poverty Law Center says the events at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville earlier this month show that states need to change open carry laws.
In a piece published to the organization’s website last week, SPLC President Richard Cohen reminded readers of the armed men at the “Unite the Right” event held a couple weeks ago.
“We’ve all seen the pictures from Charlottesville,” Cohen wrote. “Peaceful protesters being met with men carrying military-style weapons. Many of those unarmed were probably intimidated. I certainly think I would have been.”
Echoing a chorus of gun control groups who blamed the violence in Charlottesville on the NRA, Cohen said state legislatures have tied citizens “into a constitutional knot.” He said if a football game or a national park can be considered a “sensitive place” that bans firearms, why can’t a public assembly also be considered sensitive? He answered his own question.
“A Virginia statute passed in 1997 that precludes Charlottesville from exercising any common sense in such situations,” Cohen wrote. “Specifically, Virginia’s law says no