Arts, Beats & Eats is a street festival taking place on Labor Day weekend that until this year has been located in Pontiac. This year it’s moving to Royal Oak, and a huge controversy has erupted over a clause in the contract between the city and the festival that would’ve disallowed people openly carrying firearms while at the festival. At the close of the Royal Oak city council meeting, the members voted to strike the clause, so the citizens will be able to display their sidearms proudly on their hips as they stroll through the festival area. See Royal Oak to allow guns at Ford Arts, Beats & Eats festival (posted 16 August 2010 by the Detroit Free Press).
I wasn’t aware that many gun owners were fans of events like this. The people who’ve been shown in the media reports look like your typical NRA members, the sort that I never saw when I used to frequent art fairs. I also wasn’t aware that personal security was that much of an issue at large street fairs, and this is probably the second largest next to the Ann Arbor Art Fairs in our area. It’s not as if the artists, musicians, and chefs move in and the police move out. It’s not as if one needs to park in a bad neighborhood to get to the festival, either. There are no bad neighborhoods in Royal Oak.
TV news stories have been full of images of people with guns in holsters on their hips (all white, all male, near as I could tell). The images have impact, which is why they’ve shown lots of them. They’re actually kind of chilling.
I hope a lot of gun rights advocates go, since they’ve now achieved what they set out to do. Besides, the festival will probably need them to attend — I’m guessing the number of non-gun-toting citizens will be less than they expected. It would be disingenuous for me to trumpet how I won’t go; I’ve never gone before, and there are too many other events that weekend (Renaissance Festival, the jazz festival, and the state fair, though that’s gone now). But whatever temptation I had to give it a try this year is gone.
Postscript: A quote from the article:
Gun-rights activists say they also are going after Clawson, Pontiac, Taylor and Flint for local rules they say infringe on gun rights. Their goal is “to bring gun ownership out of the closet,” Michigan Open Carry group founder Brian Jeffs, 53, has said.
… C’mon, this is America. We’ve had over 250 years of sticking guns in everyone’s faces. Gun ownership has never been in any sort of closet here.