"I will not personally travel in a state where civilians carry loaded weapons onto the sidewalks and as a means of political protest," travel guide legend Arthur Frommer told his loyal readers earlier this week. And that means, he wrote, that he won't be going to Arizona anytime soon and may suggest that others join him in an "open boycott." He added that:
I would feel as I do regardless of the political identity of the speaker whom these thugs attempted to intimidate. The continued tolerance of extremists carrying guns is a frightening development which strikes at the heart of the political process and endangers the ability to carry out a reasoned debate. Is there any responsible citizen of the United States who believes that people should carry guns to a public debate or speech? If Ronald Reagan were delivering a political talk in Phoenix, Arizona, would they have felt it was proper for protestors with guns to mill about outside the hall from which he would leave?
Frommer was writing, of course, about the appearance Monday of a man carrying an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle outside the convention center where President Barack Obama was holding a town hall meeting.
Yesterday, The Arizona Republic reports:
In a 20-minute conference call ... Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and Steve Moore, head of the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau, spoke with Frommer, inviting him to visit Phoenix to clear up any misperceptions about the city's safety.
"It's a great place to live, work, raise a family and particularly to visit," Gordon said. "It's unfortunate an individual expressing his beliefs (the man with the rifle) got the coverage he got because that's not what Phoenix is about. Phoenix is one of the safest major cities in the United States." ...
Frommer told the mayor he has many friends in Arizona and would "take his comments to heart," Gordon said.
As CNN reported, the man with the gun in Phoenix was part of a staged event by a Libertarian radio talk show host: