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Carrying weapons chills free speech -- Bill Walters
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Carrying weapons chills free speech -- Bill Walters

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Even though it is legal to carry a weapon (either concealed or in the open) in many states, the Kyle Rittenhouse case has an insidious effect. The verdict allows an individual to feel more impunity to carry a weapon in public.

If I decide to express my freedom of speech and peacefully assemble as guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, I will now think twice before doing so. The Rittenhouse case empowers those who may want to bring a weapon to an assembly. Some will arm to threaten or intimidate as a bully. Others will do so out of a perceived need to protect themselves.

Collectively they will probably be a small number, but with great power. It may only take one visualized weapon. With weapons out in the open (and the thought that even more are concealed), I will be intimidated and more likely to not exercise my freedoms. I believe I am far from alone.

An AR-15-style semi-automatic weapon is a far cry from a musket. It leads to a small number of people with control over a majority. It is minority rule. It was never the intent for the Second Amendment to hold the First Amendment hostage.

Bill Walters, Fitchburg

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