Two legally-armed men show up at “town hall meetings” in New Hampshire and Arizona on healthcare reform attended by President Barack Obama and unleash a firestorm of debate nationwide. While most of the ranting from the liberal media was expected, what may be surprising to some is there is also a backlash from Second Amendment supporters, gun-owners, and ‘Average Joes.’

What follows is just a sample cross-section of articles, columns, blogs, and letters to editors that, essentially, ask they same question: Did these displays hurt the Second Amendment cause?

— “People who show up packing heat to town hall events are not defending their homes from invasion, resisting a government attempt to seize their arms, deterring crime in a hazardous environment, providing personal security when traveling to the bad part of town, or otherwise assuring the security of a free state. They are doing something much more primitive: trying to intimidate their political opponents through the threat of violence.”

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— “First Amendment ethos guarantees citizens the right to participate in their democracy without fear of physical retribution. If there is any one foundational right in America, this is it — it is the right that so many of us, fleeing from oppressive societies/regimes, originally came to this country specifically seeking. But as my new syndicated newspaper column shows, that First Amendment right is now being threatened by, of all things, the Second Amendment.”

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— “Unfortunately, supporters of gun rights are often their own worst enemy. Their ‘I can carry a gun’ attitude can slide over from taking that right and responsibility seriously to something that the rest of the country views with alarm. I’ve written about guns in national parks and the legislation that allows it. Most of the comments to my articles were provided by passionate supporters with a responsible attitude, and an understanding that not everyone thinks a man with a gun is just trying to protect himself. But others sounded downright angry. And an angry man with a gun is plain frightening.

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— “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.”

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— “Many people were startled to see a man toting an AR-15 at a residential town hall on healthcare in Phoenix on Monday. His intent, he told reporters, was to show his willingness to “forcefully resist” an overreaching government.He broke no laws, police say, and he was not a threat to the president. But it turns out there’s an actual connection between gun rights and healthcare reform, at least according to one gun lobby.

Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt says that a Democrat-sponsored government-run healthcare system with a centralized patient record database could keep guns out of the hands of “gazillions” of lawful Americans.”If this becomes law, there’s no place to escape” if the government wanted to use federal medical records to deem citizens “medically unfit” to carry a gun, says Mr. Pratt. “No trial, no due process, just gone.”

Pratt’s critics agree there are some legitimate privacy concerns around having a central medical data repository.

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— “If there was a group of law-abiding black men from Detroit in a suburban city who carried visible semi-automatic weapons in a public square because they had the right to do so when President Bush was in office, how would this have been viewed by law enforcement and by those in the crowd? Might these black men have been arrested on the spot? Might they have dispersed the crowd automatically? (No pun intended.) The visibility of these semi-automatic weapons and all others is just so incredibly frightening no matter who’s carrying them or who’s in office. We’re not even allowed to shout fire in a crowded theater, right? Perhaps we need some kind of law that would prohibit such guns within a certain proximity of presidential events.”

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— “Regarding protesters displaying guns at the president’s appearance: Warning, this may give officials an excuse to pass laws to restrict our rights to carry arms. In the 1960s in California, a large group of Black Panthers carried rifles and shotguns to the steps of the California Legislature to intimidate them, just because it was legal. Immediately, laws were passed restricting the carrying of firearms in the state.”

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— ‘We Will Forcefully Resist People Forcing Their Will On Us’;

— Gunning for trouble:Gun-rights advocates should speak out against protesters displaying firearms at President Obama’s healthcare reform events.

August 21, 2009;,0,6397167.story

— Fodder for anti-gun lobby;

— Message in a Barrel: Bearing arms at presidential events;

— Ban guns from public political events;

— Did gun carrying protesters hurt gun rights?