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In Michigan, Mississippi and elsewhere, people are staging protests to let their governing bodies know they want the lockdown of the economy to end.

That’s good. Protesting what you perceive to be an injustice is an American tradition. It’s protected three times in the First Amendment — freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

But some protesters have carried things too far by showing up at these rallies in public spaces carrying rifles.

If the idea is to intimidate, then having a rifle strapped to your body is a good idea. If the idea is to use facts, logic and human experience to bring another person over to your point of view, then it’s not such a good idea. It’s the difference between coercion and persuasion.

If you want the governor to speed up his re-opening plan, give him good reasons. Bring out a barber, a landscaper or a salesperson who can make the case that the lockdown is harming real people and that business can resume safely.

Don’t try to intimidate the governor by showing up at the Capitol with a rifle. Second Amendment rights have little to do with the economic pain that’s being felt.

It was Mao Zedong of China who said, “Every Communist must grasp the truth, ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.’ ” That works in totalitarian regimes, but rarely does it last in the long term. Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland proved that point. King George III learned that lesson. Now, while the world is watching the COVID-19 pandemic, China is playing the game in Hong Kong. We will have to see how that plays out.

But this is not a totalitarian nation, despite the feeling among a large group of Americans that governors in some states are taking the lockdown too far.

Protest if you wish, but leave the big guns at home. Set the example of how to have a peaceful protest.

Meanwhile, businesses in at least two dozen states, including West Virginia, are re-opening after a lockdown that began in March. The process will be a slow one. The speed of re-opening is slowed down by public health officials’ insistence on spelling out so many details of how the process must work.

Some health departments in other states are telling churches how they should conduct the communion ceremony, if they are allowed to have communion at all.

Reasonable people can disagree over how much regulation is too much. If you’re of the opinion things are moving too slowly or too quickly, let your state and local officials know. The best way of doing that is at the ballot box. West Virginia has a primary election next month. Let candidates know if their handling of this situation warrants your support. That’s far more effective than carrying a rifle and a protest sign.

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