Arthur Frommer, the founder of the handy Frommer's Travel Guide empire, announced that he's personally boycotting the state of Arizona after seeing a bunch of wingnuts openly packing heat at an Obama speech earlier in the week.
I am not yet certain whether I would advocate a travel boycott by others of the state of Arizona; I want to learn more about Arizona's gun laws and how they compare with those of other states. But I am shocked beyond measure by reports that earlier this week, nearly a dozen persons, including one with an assault rifle strapped about his shoulders and others with pistols in their hands or holsters, were openly congregating outside a hall at which President Obama was speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
For myself, without yet suggesting that others follow me in an open boycott, I will not personally travel in a state where civilians carry loaded weapons onto the sidewalks and as a means of political protest. I not only believe such practices are a threat to the future of our democracy, but I am firmly convinced that they would also endanger my own personal safety there. And therefore I will cancel any plans to vacation or otherwise visit in Arizona until I learn more. And I will begin thinking about whether tourists should safeguard themselves by avoiding stays in Arizona.
According to the Phoenix, Arizona, police, people with guns including assault rifles do not need permits in Arizona, but can simply carry such weapons with them, openly and brazenly, when they gather to protest a speaker at a public event. The police also acknowledge that about a dozen people carrying guns, including one with an AR-15 assault rifle, milled about outside the event at which President Obama spoke.
I would feel as I do regardless of the political identity of the speaker whom these thugs attempted to intimidate. The continued tolerance of extremists carrying guns is a frightening development which strikes at the heart of the political process and endangers the ability to carry out a reasoned debate. Is there any responsible citizen of the United States who believes that people should carry guns to a public debate or speech? If Ronald Reagan were delivering a political talk in Phoenix, Arizona, would they have felt it was proper for protestors with guns to mill about outside the hall from which he would leave?
Whatever, unless you're a golfer or college student looking to score drugs and easy ass, there's really no need to visit Arizona anyway. So good on you Arthur Frommer.