- Second Amendment March organizer Skip Coryell
On April 19, 2010, pro-gun activists conducted two rallies in the Washington, D.C. area to demonstrate their opposition to the policies of an "oppressive, totalitarian government." Among the featured speakers at these events were current and former militia leaders and others with ties to extreme, anti-government groups. The choice of date was significant, as April 19 marks the anniversary of the first shots being fired in the American Revolution at the Battle of Lexington/Concord, the fiery conclusion to the 1993 siege at Waco, and the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh.
The "Second Amendment March" took place at the Washington Monument on the National Mall. Because federal and local laws prohibit individuals from carrying firearms in public in the District of Columbia, the approximately 2,000 individuals in attendance were unarmed.
At the event, the Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, Larry Pratt, stated, "We're in a war. The other side knows they are at war, because they started it. They are coming for our freedom, for our money, for our kids, for our property. They are coming for everything because they are a bunch of Socialists." The march's organizer, Skip Coryell, has said, "When the government ignores the First Amendment, it is time to rattle the Second Amendment sabers. It’s all about accountability. So long as our elected officials believe we will rise up and overthrow them under certain conditions, then they will not allow those conditions to occur. Their jobs and their very lives depend on it."
The 50 or so individuals who attended the "Restore the Constitution Open-Carry Rally" at Fort Hunt National Park in Virginia, however, came armed. Fort Hunt and the nearby Gravelly Point site were chosen because they represent the closest possible locations to the District of Columbia where attendees could openly carry loaded handguns and rifles. Rally organizer Daniel Almond scheduled the second half of the event at Gravelly Point so attendees could "step up to the edge" to "show our elected servants in DC and the state capitals that we will not stand by idly while their corruption, dishonesty, and outright violations of our country’s founding principles destroy the American Republic." The event website also provided a "Resistance Pledge" for attendees to sign. It called for open—and, if necessary, criminal—opposition to laws pertaining to health care coverage, climate change and firearm regulation.
Mike Vanderboegh, who recently made national headlines after taking credit for several instances of vandalism at Democratic offices following recent votes on health care reform legislation, was the featured speaker at the Fort Hunt rally. "Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience," he said. "This is what the other side doesn’t understand! We are doing backing up! Done! Not one more inch."
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence believes that the threat posed by these events must be taken with the utmost seriousness. The combination of messages that were promoted—that our government is illegitimate and the Second Amendment provides an individual right to take violent action against a "tyrannical" government—is a toxic mix that has led to serious violence and will continue to unless our elected officials speak out strongly against it. Perhaps the most damaging testimony on April 19 was that of U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), who told attendees at the D.C. rally that they "must declare war against oppression and against Socialism."
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