At a rally, Republican presidential contender Ben Carson has a simple solution for preventing a Paris-style attack: “If a bunch of terrorists came in here and there were people in here with guns, it would be very unlikely that they would be able to carry about the kind of massacre they did in Paris.” The Associated Press cites a snag in that approach: the demands of Secret Service agents protecting him at his request (and at taxpayer expense). They don’t allow any guns except those carried by authorized personnel. At Carson’s events as well as Donald Trump’s, there’s a dissonance between the faith they put in the hands of armed citizens to keep public events safe and the Secret Service protection they rely on for their own security.
To be sure, a campaign rally with a polarizing candidate on stage is not the same as a soccer stadium or nightclub like the ones attacked in Paris. The Secret Service began protecting some candidates in presidential primaries after the killing of Robert Kennedy in 1968. Yet for the public, political rallies to which the agency is assigned are decidedly the “gun-free zones” that Trump has called for ending and that Carson supports doing away with, too, judging from his rhetoric. Trump and Carson have joined Democrat Hillary Clinton as the only 2016 candidates with Secret Service details at this point. Clinton has had some level of protection since 1992, when her husband, Bill, was elected president. Protection for Carson and Trump began in November.