The Appleton Farmer’s Market draws massive crowds every Saturday — for the community’s size it is comparable to the Madison market. Recently, two men walked through the Appleton market with holstered pistols and assault rifles slung on their backs. Police promptly detained and questioned the men but after a brief period of detainment the men were let go, free of any charges or legal repercussions.
This act scared many market-goers, and many people were apprehensive to return to the market the following Saturday. This is a crying shame for two reasons: First of all, the farmers may have lost out on expected income, and secondly, those who chose not to attend missed out on some shenanigans with a live chicken.
While some men arrived at the market with lethal weapons, one man brought along Winchester, his hen companion. Winchester’s purpose at the market (besides enjoying a fresh cob of corn and a hot apple cider) was to protest the absurdity that is Wisconsin’s open carry law. In Appleton, the fine for openly displaying a firearm capable of mass murder is $0.00, while bringing a live chicken to a public event carries the whopping fine of $263.50.
Now, the logic behind the chicken fine is that people would get pretty pissed if chickens started pooping on all of the small children and spreading whatever diseases poultry scat may carry. This I definitely understand, but what I can’t understand is that in a day and age when I can only bring a thimble full of toothpaste into an airport, anyone can overtly carry a killing machine into a crowd of hundreds of people.
Most festivals in Wisconsin, and particularly in Madison, are known to have an easygoing, family-friendly atmosphere. Madison is host to one of the largest farmer’s markets in the nation, not to mention gigantic public events such as Freakfest and University of Wisconsin football game days. If open-carry advocates were to invade such events, it would make the vibe a lot more … murdery.
We see images in Time magazine of men in warring countries publicly ornamented with assault rifles. We shouldn’t see the same images at our local events. Although our country was founded on freedom of speech and expression, I don’t think that frightening the populace with firearms is quite what Benjamin Franklin and the gang were talking about. Whatever happened to common sense?
Without diving deeper into the treacherous depths of conceal and carry policy, I think that it is widely acknowledged that the open carry law should be reconsidered. While merely participating in open carry is not disorderly, picture the following: I am at the farmer’s market picking out my Halloween pumpkin. The person on my left is proudly exercising her right to bear arms with a loaded gun in her shoulder holster. The person on my right is a loudmouth political activist exercising his freedom of speech.
The wrong person says the wrong thing at the wrong time and suddenly the unimaginable becomes reality. I’m caught in the crossfire and my squash is blown to pieces. What would have become my prized jack o’ lantern is reduced to pulp not fit for a pumpkin pie.
My point is that just because you can doesn’t mean you should. It creates an unfavorable view of gun owners and the events they attend. Then again, I have never been a hunter, a gun owner or serial killer, so my views on firearms rights may be skewed.
Let’s bring back common sense and eradicate open carry at public events.
Michael Schwanke (mschwanke