Leave it to the City of Angels to stay ahead of the pack in coming up with new and inventive ideas. The City Fathers there are justifiably worried about violence flaring up during the various protests which seem to engulf the left coast every weekend. So what should they do about it? They’ve just made it illegal to go to a demonstration with a baseball bat. Oh, and they added fifteen more things to the list.
Since this has the effect of restricting the rights of people to leave their homes carrying objects which would otherwise be perfectly legal to carry, some obvious objections have been raised. But that’s not going to stop Los Angeles. (LA Times)
Los Angeles lawmakers voted Tuesday to ban protesters from carrying pepper spray, baseball bats, glass bottles, stun guns and other potentially dangerous items in the wake of clashes in Berkeley, Charlottesville, Va., and other cities.
The City Council voted 13 to 1 to pass an ordinance that would prohibit a long list of items at rallies, demonstrations and public assemblies, including metal pipes, swords, torches with an open flame, bricks, signs that are not made out of soft material or thin cardboard, and shields made of wood, metal or hard plastic.
Councilman Mitchell Englander, who championed the new law, said the restrictions would protect protesters and police without infringing on free speech rights.
“These are just common sense,” Englander said.
You might think they wouldn’t be able to do this, but apparently there’s been a prohibition against bringing “wooden planks” to demonstrations since the 90s and it’s survived court challenges. The restrictions only apply to attendance at “expressive events” and they don’t limit speech, so at least some judges have agreed that the restriction is constitutional. So if you leave your house to go protest an appearance by Milo carrying a baseball bat and I’m walking alongside you carrying my bat while heading to my weekly softball game, they can arrest you, but not me.
Here’s the full list of items which have been banned.
- Metal pipes
- Plastic pipes, except for thin hollow ones to hold up signs or puppets
- Signs that are not made out of soft material
- Baseball bats
- Pepper spray
- Any aerosol spray
- Catapults or wrist rockets
- Firearms, pellet guns and BB guns
- Knives and swords
- Razor blades
- Nunchucks and other martial arts weapons
- Stun guns
- Chains longer than 20 inches
- Balloons or containers filled with noxious material
- Glass bottles
- Open flame torches or lanterns
A couple of those entries make sense to a certain degree, but they might lead you to wonder why carrying them was legal under any circumstances. Can you really walk around with a balloon filled with “noxious materials” in Los Angeles? To what purpose?
Most of the other ones are clearly problematic. No glass bottles means that a significant list of beverages are off the table. Plenty of people carry pepper spray for self-defense and the idea that you can forbid all other aerosol sprays just seems silly. Clearly you don’t want most of these things being broken out during a protest because their use and potential for damage is immediately obvious. But if they are legal to own and carry under other circumstances it’s difficult to understand how such a law would pass muster at the Supreme Court.
With all that said, I’ve been sarcastically suggesting for years that liberals start passing baseball bat control laws, particularly when you consider the fact that more people are killed with bats and other blunt objects every year than are murdered with rifles. But I honestly didn’t expect anyone to take me up on the idea.