Million Mom March Was Pleasant...Almost!

Nicki Fellenzer
for AFANews

Mothers Day May 09, 2004

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I took the Metro into DC today to cover the “Million Mom March.” I had heard horror stories about the “moms” verbally and viciously accosting Second Amendment rights advocates. I read reports of other “mommies” vandalizing gun rights supporters’ property. I didn’t think I would be very welcome.

I was wearing my Armed Females of America badge, a small digital camera, and I had my tape recorder with me to capture the moment.

I expected to be treated with hostility.

But I was pleasantly surprised. As I began talking to the gun control supporters in the crowd, none were hostile, none screamed epithets, yelled at me or treated me like a pariah.

Quite the contrary. They were polite. Some were surprised that I worked for a pro-Second Amendment group, some didn’t care for whom I worked. They just wanted to tell their story. They weren’t vicious. Many of them were sad. Many had lost loved ones to violence. And I was sad for them.

I wanted to tell them that I was so sorry they had lost their children, family members and friends. But I also wanted to tell them that rendering other people defenseless because of the tragedy they suffered was wrong too.

I wanted to explain to them that freedom is not easy. Freedom is difficult, and it’s worth working for. I wanted to tell them that disarming the peaceable citizens and leaving them vulnerable to those who could care less what kind of laws Congress passed was immoral – something akin to leading them to the same exact fate that befell their loved ones.

But I didn’t say anything. I listened. I wanted to know if these people fully understood what they were marching for and what they were advocating. So I asked them why they were there. I asked them how they felt about the Second Amendment. I asked them for their definition of “sensible,” because so many of them advocated “sensible gun control laws.”

Some of the marchers had only a vague idea what an “assault” weapon was. Others admitted that laws don’t do much to prevent crime, but they felt like they had to do something. Several of the marchers with whom I spoke quoted old, faulty statistics that a gun in the home is more likely to kill a family member than stop an assailant or intruder. They asserted that we should rely on police to protect us. Others advocated a more extreme view. One gentleman actually told me that he wanted to see all “assault” weapons banned, including barring police from using these weapons. His logic was that if no one was allowed to have them, they would eventually disappear. He held a sign that said “ASSAULT WEAPONS ARE WMD.”

I didn’t have the heart to remind him of the reality of the situation – that newer, better and more efficient weapons would not go away, and that criminals would still get their hands on them, regardless of laws.

Overall, saddened as I was by the emotionalist rhetoric that appeared to rule the day…

…frustrated as I was by Eleanor Holmes Norton using the recent death of a little girl – an eight-year-old child who was struck by a stray bullet in a city that has completely banned firearms ownership – to push an “assault” weapons ban that had nothing to do with Chelsea Cromartie’s death…

…horrified as I was by some in the crowd badmouthing freedom, treating freedom like something to be discarded “for the common good…”

…I had a fairly positive experience. It was friendly and outgoing until the very end of the march.

I had stopped to chat with a pair of people wearing MMM T-shirts as the march was passing us on (ironically) Constitution Avenue. I approached the woman and asked her if she’d mind giving me a few comments for my story about the march. She agreed. I told her I was writing a story on the march, but I did not specify that I was with Armed Females of America. We chatted about “assault” weapons. I challenged her perception about said firearms, and I stated several facts about machine guns – details such as the fact that civilians can own machine guns (fully automatic weapons that fire a succession of bullets as long as the trigger is depressed or until the ammunition supply is exhausted) as long as they get special permission from the Treasury Department and pay a $200 tax. Machine guns which were manufactured prior to the passage of the Firearms Owners' Protection Act of May 19, 1986 are regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934, but those manufactured after the ban cannot ordinarily be sold to or owned by civilians.

It was then that this “lady” demanded to know the name of my organization. I explained that I was an independent writer, but that I was doing this particular article for Armed Females of America.

She was appalled! She was shocked that Armed Females of America does not support registration or gun control of any kind. She then accused me of approaching her under false pretenses and demanded my tape.

False pretenses? What false pretenses? Was I not writing a story about the march? Was I claiming to be something I was not? No. But that did not stop her outrage.

I refused – politely – to give her my tape recorder, explaining I had other notes on the tape – notes that I had made throughout the entire day and interviews I had conducted earlier.

She then grabbed my wrist and attempted to wrestle the tape recorder away from me, claiming she knew the law, that she was a lawyer and that she had a right to demand my tape and to confiscate it.

Well, my friends tell me they were proud that I didn’t slug her.

As a matter of fact, while I raised my voice, and told her in no uncertain terms to unhand me and that my tape recorder was private property that she had no right to touch, I did not lose my temper and I used only as much force as was necessary to twist my arm away from her. But instead of backing off, she then tried AGAIN to grab my tape recorder and wrestle it out of my hand! Meanwhile the gentleman who was with her was writing down my name and organization from my press badge. At one point he actually demanded my address – a demand I pointedly ignored.

The woman then changed her tactics and decided to attack my motives and credentials.

She claimed I misrepresented myself as a newspaper reporter. I had done no such thing. What I told her was that I was a writer working on a story about the march. I further told her the truth when she demanded the name of my organization.

“Do you have a journalism degree?” She demanded.

“Actually, I do,” I replied.

“From where?"

“From the United States Army.”

“The Army? Oh my gosh.”

Upon learning that I write for several publications and organizations, she asserted, “So then actually anything that we say will be used to incriminate the Million Mom March and make them look like they’re idiots, because you would be completely uninterested in anything I had to say.”

“Why would that be?” I demanded. After all, I had just spent some time talking to her about her views. But apparently, because I challenged her definition of “assault” weapon, I was, according to her, uninterested in what she had to say -- as if correcting someone’s factual error was somehow a sign of indifference!

“I wanted to know your definition of an assault rifle,” I told her.

“Why would you want to know that?” She demanded.

“BECAUSE I’M WRITING ABOUT THE MILLION MOM MARCH, MA’AM!” I exploded. It’s part of the story!
She had no reply to that, except to assert that I had no interest in portraying them in any way other than “sarcastically or idiotically.”

“Have you ever read any of my writing, ma’am?” I asked politely. She replied that she hadn’t but that she would like to. In other words, she was judging me, my writing and my article all before any of it was even written – all based on the fact that I work for groups that disagree with her agenda. If that isn’t bigotry, what is?

It’s ironic, isn’t it? I had almost walked away from the march with a better attitude than the one with which I came in. I still disagree heartily with their agenda. I still denounce their attempts to disarm the law-abiding and render them helpless against armed thugs. I’m still repulsed by the use of deaths to push a political agenda and the use of doctored and manipulated statistics to shred the right to self defense. But I felt sad for many of the marchers. I felt sad for the losses they experienced, although I still feel their emotionalism outweighs reality, logic and rational thought.

Personal tragedy is never an excuse to deprive others of their basic human rights. Carma Jackson, the Executive Director of Armed Females of America, lost her young son to gun fire. Was she emotional? Certainly. Did she grieve? Surely. She still does. Did she blame guns, gun manufacturers, the NRA and the President for her son’s death? Absolutely not. Because Carma undoubtedly realized that the only person to blame for her tragedy and loss was the person who pulled the trigger. She furthermore realized that disarming innocent, peaceable citizens and rendering them vulnerable to armed criminals would be leading them to certain death – the same fate that befell her son.

But I’m not going to pass judgment on others’ suffering. People deal with loss and tragedy in their own way. I grieve for every last person at that march who lost a loved one to violence. But I cannot condone their attempts to trample my rights as a way to deal with their loss.

Unfortunately, this one shrill, vindictive and bigoted woman single-handedly managed to sully the experience I had at the march. By assaulting me and trying to deprive me of my property, she destroyed any good feelings I had developed toward the marchers. All she had to do was politely ask me not to use her quotes, and I would have respectfully consented. After all, I’m not in the business of giving publicity where it’s not wanted. But instead, she decided to lay her hands on me, attempt to violate my rights as a writer and a member of the press and deprive me of my property rights.

She didn’t succeed.

What she did succeed in doing was to confirm that her contempt for the First Amendment is almost as great as her contempt for the Second. Apparently, in this woman’s view, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution only applies to those who write favorable reports about the Million Mom March.

What a shame.

Nicki is a US Army veteran, who spent nearly four years in Frankfurt, Germany on active duty at the American Forces Network. She is a former radio DJ and news anchor and a Featured Writer and Newslinks Director for Keepandbeararms.com. She is also a former contributing editor to the National Rifle Association's newest monthly magazine, Women's Outlook and she is currently the contributing editor to Concealed Carry Magazine and writes occasionally for the Libertarian Party. She resides in Virginia with her family. We are also proud to have Nicki as regular contributor to Armed Females of America.

Copyright © 2004 by Armed Females of America. All rights reserved. Permission to redistribute this article for noncommercial purposes is hereby granted, provided that it is reproduced unedited, in its entirety and appropriate credit given.

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