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State & Regional

Armed Protests More Common in Open-Carry States

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Associated Press
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The Mountain West region saw more than 80 armed protests over the last year and a half. A new analysis warns these events are more likely to turn violent compared to unarmed demonstrations.

The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project shows the Mountain West hosted about six percent of the nation’s protests. But it saw 15 percent of the country’s armed demonstrations. Those were typically at the hands of far-right groups in response to protests against things like police violence and racial injustice.

Roudabeh Kishi is with the nonprofit, which focuses on global political violence.

"So you can see how armed demonstrations are really disproportionately represented in the region," she said. "And it's not, I guess, terribly surprising, given that we see armed demonstrations are five times more common in open carry states."

Many of the armed protests in the West were at state capitols and Kishi says that could intimidate lawmakers and affect what policies they’re willing to enact.

Over the last year and a half, the Mountain West saw more than 80 armed demonstrations largely at the hands of far-right groups. That’s according to data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project. 

Kishi worked on the numbers. She says even when demonstrations remain peaceful, there are other implications. She points to armed counter-protesters who showed up to social justice demonstrations.

"They did serve to intimidate enough that in some of these small towns, once we see one of those cases in which the protesters say that they felt really threatened and intimidated, we don't see any protests again after that," she said.

Kishi stresses the vast majority of demonstrations in America are peaceful. Armed protests, though, were six times more likely to become violent than unarmed protests. 

The Mountain West News Bureau is a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.