Gun-rights activists gathered in the District and Virginia Monday to show their support for the right to bear arms.
Signs reading "Which part of 'shall not be infringed' confuses you?" and bright orange stickers saying "Guns save lives" dotted
the crowd at the Monument.
Speakers urged the crowd to vote in this year's elections for candidates who will support gun rights. Among the supporters was James Everett, 71, a gun owner from Battle Creek, Mich., who said he came to the rally on a bus with nearly 40 others.
"I believe it's a right. But sometimes you have to defend our rights with actions," Everett said. He said he wants to "let the people who represent us know that I don't want them to tread on my right to bear arms. A lot of people died for that right."
U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia told the crowd that Second Amendment rights have been eroded over the years and that it's time
to "take this government back from the socialists."
"We have to have a revolution -- a revolution at the ballot box this November," he said. "You're going to be the agent of that
According to the Second Amendment March Web site, the mission is “to galvanize the courage and resolve of Americans; to petition our elected officials against establishing anti-gun legislation; and to remind America that the Second Amendment is necessary to maintain our right to self defense."
The march, however, did not include any actual guns. That's because it's illegal in D.C. Organizers drove home the point of no guns allowed on the Web site:
"We don't know where this rumor originally started, but it seems that it has been perpetuated despite our very clear posting on our site that the unlawful carrying of firearms is not permitted. These people may be confusing us with another group that is holding an armed rally in Virginia on the same day as Second Amendment March. That group is a separate entity entirely and is not at all associated with the Second Amendment March event."
That other event they're referring to happened in Virginia. And guns were clearly present.
As of noon, about 75 people had gathered at Fort Hunt Park -- many with holstered handguns and unloaded rifles -- and then drove in a convoy to Gravelly Point Park on the Potomac River in Alexandria to defend gun rights at their "Restore the Constitution" event. The Associated Press reported there were about as many media members present as event attendees.
Organizers said they wanted to unite supporters at a site close to Washington that still allows them to legally carry their firearms.
But don't worry, the organizers promised they wouldn't go all Yosemite Sam on you. Gun rights advocates said they would demonstrate while keeping the pistols holstered and rifles unloaded.
Former Alabama Minutemen leader Mike Vanderboegh told the crowd that armed confrontation should be reserved only for instances of the government threatening people's lives.
However, he said it might be justified if people face arrest for refusing to buy insurance under the health care reform package
recently passed by Congress.
"If I know I'm not going to get a fair trial in federal court ... I at least have the right to an unfair gunfight," Vanderboegh said.
As the group made its way from a staging area to Gravelly Point, gun control advocate Martina Leinz dismissed Vanderboegh as a bully.
"If they wanted to have dialogue, they don't need to bring a big weapon with them," she said of the protesters.
Organizers said it's the first armed rally in a national park since a law passed allowing people to carry firearms in national parks.
Organizer Daniel Almond said he wanted to hold the rally in a place where "we can exercise our rights." He pointed in the direction of Washington and said, "Over there the constitution is being violated and in that we can no bear arms."
Almond said April 19 was chosen because it represents the anniversary of the Revoluntionary War battles of Lexington and
Concord. He said it was not meant to commemorate the Oklahoma City bombing, which took place on April 19, 1995.
Ken Garvin of Newville, Pa., said he came because he believes the government is overreaching. He stressed that the people
attending the rally "are not a bunch of crazed thugs ... they're just people."
Last Tuesday, about 100 people -- many openly carrying firearms -- gathered at Capitol Square in Richmond, Va., to drum up support for the event. Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli also attended the event.
According to the Starexponent.com, Cuccinelli referred to the group as “people, who, as I do, love the Constitution.”
“We’ve had occasion already to step up to the first obligation of this office -- that is, to defend the Constitution,“ Cuccinelli was quoted as saying.