Open Carry “Restore The Constitution” rally draws fifty
Complaining about communism with AK-47s slung across their backs, gun rights advocates gathered for a multi-place rally to “Restore The Constitution” on Monday. A grim picture of sour-faced apocalyptics toting intimidating weaponry was tempered by reality, which presented the image of men in camouflage fatigues and a slight sprinkling of cheery women. Touted as a rally to support gun rights, second amendment language was curiously absent from the majority of attendees. Rhetoric focused on Health Care Reform, unemployment and government intrusion on personal liberties. When the topic finally did stray to guns, the rhetoric was not so much about gun rights advocacy or supporting pro-gun politicians, but fixated on the “from my cold, dead hands” theme. Allusions were drawn to the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 and the seizure of American colonists’ weapons by the British. Speakers at this event and a similar but unarmed pro-gun rally in DC all stressed that the choice of this date was not meant to invoke memories of the Oklahoma City Bombing, but to remember the beginning of the American revolutionary war. Further themes and promises were the typical cry of civil unrest if legislators refused to halt the erosion of constitutional rights. All of these are viewed in a slightly different light after viewing to MSNBC’s The McVeigh Tapes, where Timothy McVeigh stated that it was his specific wish for April 19th not to be remembered for his bombing of the Alfred E. Murrah Federal Building, but to be remembered for the start of revolutionary war.
A featured speaker was Mike Vanderboegh, who first crashed onto the national scene by exhorting people to vandalize the offices of Democratic party politicians. “I’ve got congestive heart failure and diabetic feet, and they’re scared of me” he laughed. Vanderboegh and other speakers repeatedly invoked the image of the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, who rose against their Nazis oppressors, implying that the recent vandalism and violence surrounding Health Care Reform was similar to Jews fighting against Nazis. Vanderboegh further opined that he was feared because of his freedom to speak his mind, not because of the violence wrought at his behest.
Tom Fernandez, founder of the “Alarm and Muster phone tree” gave identical, lengthy speeches at Fort Hunt and Gravelly Point. Fernandez complained of rising unemployment, the changing role of government, the passage of Health Care Reform and the vague generalization of “lost rights” and the impingement of his personal liberties by the government. As was typical for the other speakers, Fernandez did not speak about gun rights legislation or any particular pro-gun politician to support, but also invoked the insurgency of American colonists against the tyranny of the British. The speakers and participants did not stray from these talking points, and as such led to a feeling that everyone was reading from a script– a script which implied that we are currently living under a tyranny that needs to be violently resisted.
An attitude of disappointment permeated the rallies, which exhibited a stultifying level of foul planning. The rally was scheduled for the first day of the work-week, which guaranteed a low turnout. The rally began at 9am at Fort Hunt Park, which forced all attendees through the teeth-gnashing Gordian Knot of DC metro area rush hour traffic– and a further ten miles down a winding parkway. The rally then shoehorned its participants into an ad-hoc convoy and made them backtrack through the same soul-crushing traffic to the final rally location. The location of the final rally– intended as a dramatic press spectacle with the Capital as a backdrop– was located at a park located at the very end of the runway of Washington National Airport. Not only did the organizers split up their rally between two locations at a poor time of day, the penultimate location for the rally to speak to the press was located directly under the departure path for a major domestic airport.
As the convoy arrived at Gravelly Point and the participants filed out, the rally didn’t immediately reconvene; the nominally camera-shy and paranoid “gun nuts” spent 45 minutes conversing with themselves and fielding questions for the press between the roar of departing jets. The chitchat from this crowd consisted primarily of conspiracy theories of how Timothy McVeigh was a government agent, macho posturing of “they outgun us, but we outnumber them” and excoriations of the mainstream US press– told to clusters of reporters for mainstream US news outlets. Press outnumbered the police and the police outnumbered the protesters. We wonder what the purpose of this rally was, if not to expose fifty-odd gun owners to the scrupulous eyes of a multitude of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.