I just asked myself this question. If I were planning on going to a Holiday party and I knew that people were bringing guns, I would feel very uncomfortable about going.
Carrying weapons outside of certain context is an implicit threat.
By "certain contexts" I mean hunting season, shooting ranges, the Armed Forces, the National Guard and law enforcement. Why do I exclude these contexts? Because these are substantially regulated circumstances for carrying and using firearms, where there are thresholds for membership, social sanction for gun possession and the expectation of some training or expertise.
Sending volunteers into schools with guns -- or vigilante "self-protectionists" -- scares the crap out of me because of the absence of controls on the behavior of the gunman or gunwoman.
But beyond that, when you are carrying a gun outside of these circumstances, you are making an implicit threat against others.
And such a threat has natural consequences:
It chills free speech -- especially unpopular or controversial speech.
It makes people afraid to lawfully assemble -- for any reason, really.
It may cause others to feel like they have to bring along their own weapons to compete in an arms race within public life.
I don't want to wonder whether I need to take a gun when I go to the grocery store. I don't want to wonder whether I'll be held at gunpoint by some crazy because I express a view that is unpopular of controversial. I don't want to be afraid to take part in a public event because I know people with guns will be there.
Now imagine how guns in a public school will influence morale, feelings of security and the kind of teaching and discourse that occurs there. Imagine being one of a few black kids at a majority white school and wondering if your school's volunteer gunman has singled you out for trouble. Imagine being an LGBT student at a high school where anti-gay sentiment runs high. You already fear bullying. Now you have to walk by armed gunmen in your halls and wonder whether you might be a target.
Imagine being a teacher with known progressive views that are unpopular among a several parents at the school -- one of whom is now a volunteer security guard with a firearm, stationed outside your classroom door.
I don't expect anyone to be brandishing firearms to the next holiday party I attend.
And I don't expect Wayne LaPierre to have his way about guns in schools.
But the NRA is powerful. It controls much of the public dialogue about guns. It's a strong influence on Congress.
They might gain some ground.