Are “people’s perceptions” enough of a reason to ban pro-gun apparel at polling places?
The National Rifle Association may not be a political party, but apparently in some places elections officials will make you remove or cover clothing emblazoned with three letters — NRA — because of, they claim, the pro-gun group’s political overtones.
That’s what Bundy Cobb said happened to him when he wore his “NRA Instructor” ball cap as he went to vote early in Douglasville, Georgia, on Friday.
“It’s definitely not campaigning,” Cobb told WAGA-TV, saying that elections officials were, “infringing on my rights to express myself,” when they ordered him to remove his hat.
“All this hat does is advertise that I’m an instructor,” Cobb said. “It doesn’t endorse any candidate or anything else.”
Why was Cobb ordered to remove his hat?
Laurie Fulton, the board of elections supervisor for Douglas County, told WAGA that there was a legal precedent linking the NRA with the GOP.
“The courts have found that anything that suggests associated with the NRA in many people’s perceptions is associated with the Republican party,” Fulton said. “So in an overabundance of caution Mr. Cobb was asked to remove the hat so that no one could interpret that we were playing any favoritism over one party versus the other.”
But when the Daily Caller contacted Fulton asking her to explain which court cases had ruled that NRA gear counted as a political statement, she drew a blank and could only cite voter complaints instead of actual court cases.
“It started earlier in the week when a voter complained to me about a hat a man was wearing [an NRA hat],” Fulton told the Daily Caller.
That man, like Cobb, removed his hat after being asked, Fulton said.
After she “consulted with one of my contemporaries in another county,” Fulton decided that NRA logos “fell under the same sort of grey area” as “Don’t Tread on Me” t-shirts, which she said are banned at polling places under some prior ruling because of their popularity among the Tea Party.
Did the ruling she cited come from the Georgia Supreme Court or the state election board? Fulton couldn’t recall, the Daily Caller reported.
Cobb remained convinced that he should be able to wear his instructor hat to vote and that “people’s perceptions” are wrong.
“I know personally some Democrats who are members of the NRA,” Cobb told the Daily Caller, saying that he has worn the same exact “NRA Instructor” hat to his polling place three times in the past.
“It’s ridiculous,” Cobb added. “My hat advertises my business.”
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