"I'm Getting a Concealed Carry Permit"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 24 2012 11:22 AM

"I'm Getting a Concealed Carry Permit"

The Libertarian presidential candidate's campaign sent out the announcement Monday morning. After wrapping a day of D.C. media interviews, Gary Johnson would "visit Dupont Circle's cafe-lined 17th St. NW in the historical heart of the District's gay community. Joining Johnson will be Bruce Majors, Libertarian candidate for D.C. Delegate Congress." Majors is openly gay, as is Johnson's key media handler Chris Barron. This was not a journey into the lion's den. Johnson had an easier time at this meet-and-greet than he'd had at some 2011 GOP events.

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The number of gay voters walking up to meet Johnson was actually fairly small. Majors sat back, sipping a soda, as two college-age volunteers gathered petition signatures to get on the ballot. "Frankly, it would be counterproductive to talk to voters," he quipped. "I'd get more votes if they don't know who I am. No, today, I'm Gary Johnson's waterboy."

I wondered whether Barack Obama's endorsement of gay marriage made things a little trickier for the Libertarian. "That was good politics on his part," said Johnson. "He's 'softened' his stance on gay marriage without actually changing it. Obviously, those guys in Chicago are paying attention to my campaign." On policy, he argued, there was little Obama-Johnson disagreement. "He's not defending DOMA; I wouldn't defend DOMA, either."

But that issue didn't come up much as Johnson talked to voters. College kids wanted to know about the dark future that would come if entitleent spending wasn't cut. "You guys are screwed," said Johnson. A couple from Missouri, who didn't initially want to talk to Johnson, chatted with him briefly about the Second Amendment. "What Aurora did for me, personally," said Johnson, "is that I'm going and getting a concealed carry permit."

Did Johnson worry what would happen if multiple armed people tried to stop a gunman in a movie theater? "Just speaking for myself," he said, "if I had the potential of stopping it, I would have done it."

Carla Howell, a long-time Libertarian activist who's taken over as the party's executive director, nodded and interjected. "We hear 'don't exploit the tragedy,'" she said, "and then within an hour Bloomberg's on there talking about gun control. When are we going to learn? Where do all the tragedies happen? Where guns are banned."

Johnson went back to meeting voters. I went over to collect one of the campaign's new pieces of kistch: Rolling papers with apocraphyl Thomas Jefferson quotes.

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David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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