Over the past year, the issue of gun control, or more specifically, whether the existing laws dictating who may purchase firearms are effective, has become a contentious topic of debate. In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, calls for stricter regulations, background checks, and limitations for would-be gun owners have once again filled the halls of state legislatures and the nation’s capitol. This crusade against firearms, well intentioned though it may be, has raised interesting Constitutional questions and irked proponents of the Second Amendment; there are those who feel legislation is incapable of curbing violence or that the actions of a twisted few should not dictate the laws that apply to the masses.
Though the Rightwing has traditionally been associated with opposition to gun control, the much broader “liberty movement,” which includes anarchists and purist libertarians, has also voiced skepticism of such measures. Now, in what may be an unprecedented display of political rebellion, anarcho-libertarian radio personality Adam Kokesh, an Iraq War veteran and former Republican Congressional candidate, has taken the crusade against gun control a step further and organized an armed march on the nation’s capitol. The protest, scheduled for the Fourth of July, is a deliberate act of civil disobedience that will likely result in Kokesh’s arrest and a possible jail sentence. The threat of imprisonment hasn’t deterred the advocate of individual liberty in the least; quite the contrary. He recently expanded his plans by encouraging supporters to travel to the District of Columbia and publicly violate any law they have deemed unconstitutional to mark Independence Day.
For Kokesh, this high profile agitation is but the latest in a long line of brazen protests. Since first achieving notoriety as a spokesperson for Iraq Veterans Against the War, Kokesh has become one of the more controversial figures in the liberty movement. A former Constitutionalist, he has since moved into he realm of anarchism and earned a tremendous internet following. The star of a short lived television program, Kokesh supported libertarian Republican Congressman Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns, but was intensely critical of his manager, Jesse Benton, and the advocacy group Campaign for Liberty, stances that earned both praise and criticism depending upon the audience.
The controversy surrounding this summer’s armed march is intense; however, the host of the popular Adam vs. the Man program is no stranger to media scrutiny or police crackdowns. He made waves at the 2008 Republican National Convention for protesting the nomination of John McCain, and was arrested for organizing a “silent dance” at the Jefferson Memorial a few years later. Videos of both incidents went viral, making him an internet celebrity and hero in anti-war circles. Opposition to TSA searches prompted Kokesh to engage in acts of disobedience in airports; an ardent critic of the so-called “War on Drugs,” he has smoked marijuana on air during his radio program, a video feed of which is streamed live over the internet on a daily basis. Most recently, the press reported that a member of Kokesh’s internet forums had fled to Cuba during a high-profile attempt to escape the United States government.
Courageous though Kokesh’s crusades may be, these tactics are not universally embraced by libertarians. There are those who feel they are too gimmicky, and could thus discredit the movement by making it appear zany or overly militant to the general public. Regardless, the armed protest is further proof that Kokesh, who knows how to nab headlines and market his anarchist views, enjoys popularity with an increasingly large, disenfranchised coalition of Americans. Conservatives, libertarians and anarchists alike feel betrayed by their government, and their willingness to come together for what could be risky displays of political solidarity will certainly make for interesting viewing.