"In early August, a protester came to a raucous Tennessee congressional forum packing heat. Days later, President Obama's healthcare event in New Hampshire was marred by a protester posing for cameras with a pistol and sign reading, "It is time to water the tree of liberty" -- a reference to a Thomas Jefferson quote promising violence. And this past week, 12 armed men -- including one with an assault rifle -- not only showed off their firearms at Obama's Arizona speech, but broadcast a YouTube video threatening to "forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority."
These and other similar examples are accurately summarized with the same language federal law employs to describe domestic terrorism. Generating maximum media attention, the weapons-brandishing displays are "intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population." Yes, the gun has been transformed from a sport and self-defense device into a tool of mass bullying. Like the noose in the Jim Crow South, its symbolic message is clear: If you dare engage in the democratic process, you risk bodily harm."
--from What it means to wear a gun in public by David Sirota in Salon.