By Jeff Hulbert
Saturday’s 2nd Amendment Rally on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol was a dynamic showcase featuring some of America’s most-watched and most-followed firearms activists as they urged all factions in the firearms community to unify in the face of recent stepped-up campaigns by anti-gun opponents.
With a cloudless blue sky framing the Capitol dome, the large crowd that filled America’s “front lawn” at midday, waved 2A flags and signs, responding with cheers and applause to a diverse selection of speakers drawn from all over the country.
The principal organizers of the event, Jeff Knox of The Firearms Coalition along with noted self-defense trainer Rob Pincus of Save the Second. They stipulated that this was to be a true grassroots gathering, and that all of the speakers had paid their own way to D.C.
The lead-off speaker before the crowd of about 1500 was Eric Blandford, of Jonesboro Georgia’s now-famous Moss Pawn & Guns. Blandford, who sported a shirt that signals he is not one to comply with gun-banners, is more popularly known as Iraqveteran8888.
Blandford, gesturing toward the Capitol building, warned, “The lack of representation for gun owners on the Hill is troubling, and our Founding Fathers are probably rolling over in their graves. Stay strong! Keep the faith, and I will see you on the correct side of history!”
Dianna Muller, a former police officer, professional shooter, and a leader of The DC Project that lobbies Congress on Second Amendment rights, took to the stage to talk about her headline-making testimony two months ago—testimony that stunned a Congressional committee pushing a new federal “assault weapons” ban.
She told the crowd that when it was her turn to address the House Judiciary Committee on the proposed AWB, this was her stance: “I did not say I will not comply because I was being rude or disrespectful! I said I will not comply because it is an unconstitutional law!”
Ms. Muller capped off her presentation by leading the crowd in a chant of “I WILL NOT COMPLY!
California activist Craig Deluz, Director of Legislative & Public Affairs at the Firearms Policy Coalition, framed the continuous struggle with anti-gun politicians as the civil rights issue of our time, not just for communities of color, but for all firearms owners.
“We cannot allow the Second Amendment to be treated as a second class right!”, said Deluz.
“Folks, it is up to us to use those civil rights to fight, to fight and make sure that we stand up for the the rights—not just for ourselves—but for the next generation, and the generation after that. We will be judged in history by what we do this day!”
As one of one the rally’s key organizers, Jeff Knox of the Firearms Coalition reminded the crowd that firearms owners cannot sit on the sidelines and watch the major firearms rights organizations fight to preserve the Second Amendment.
Knox’s message — and that of Saturday’s 2A Rally as a whole — was “We are the Gun Lobby”. He said the unified activism of 100 million gun owners is the only force that can offset the well-funded groups that continue to push for infringements on Americans’ gun rights — or outright bans and confiscation.
Another California-based activist taking the stage was Chris Cheng, the History Channel’s Season 4 “Top Shot” champion, who moved the conversation on the Capitol lawn toward LGBTQ rights.
As a gay man, Cheng announced to thunderous applause that “It is so electrifying for me to be a gay guy in the gun community, and that nobody here cares that I’m gay!”
— Guns & America (@GunsReporting) November 2, 2019
Cheng continued, “It is us being present and being “out” as gay people, and here we are being “out” as gun owners…We have to be loud, and we have to be proud!”.
For most of those gathered, Saturday’s rally was a chance to finally meet the person whose name is so synonymous with the fight for Second Amendment rights, Dick Heller.
His Supreme Court victory ended an egregious gun ban in the District of Columbia and laid the foundation for later rulings that have enshrined firearm ownership as an individual right for every American.
Said Heller, “You are never out of the fight, because all governments will initiate violence against people who have done nothing wrong!
To great applause, Heller capped his remarks this way: “Yell it, so the world hears you! The right of the people to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED!”.
At age 70, Dick Heller continues to fight for gun rights as an active member of the Patriot Picket organization, a group that regularly demonstrates at the U.S. Capitol and in surrounding state capitals.
Carrying the rally’s energy forward was the popular and respected firearms rights advocate Maj Toure, the Philadelphia-based leader of his non-profit education group Black Guns Matter.
— Maryland Shall Issue (@MD_Shall_Issue) November 2, 2019
We have human rights codified in the Bill of Rights under natural law that is not given to us by government! That all ethnicities, backgrounds, people from all across this great nation have the ability to exercise regardless of what the anti-freedom agenda will tell you!
Addressing the unity issue head-on, Toure said, “We have been throwing our ballots away”.
As a hush fellow over the crowd, he continued:
We… you, are at fault. We have been complicit in tossing it away under the guise of disagreement. Our opposition exploits that! We are here, unarmed, in respect of unconstitutional laws, putting our differences aside to speak to a bigger agenda. The agenda is: our freedom, our liberty, our Constitution and our human rights to exist!
Rally co-sponsor Rob Pincus took his turn at the podium and declared,
No more restrictions! We will no longer tolerate the slow encroachment on our rights to keep and bear arms! We have been divided into various factions, and many of us have only acted when our own individual priorities were going to be affected. Let this rally be the end of that!
He drew upon the history of racial intolerance to ask, “How do we use what used to divide us to unite us? I never wore a chain around my neck, you never whipped me.”
Dixie continued, “So it’s not about blaming you or blaming me, it’s not about that.” To waves of applause, Dixie added, “Despite where we come from, that does not change where we can go, all right?”
The tall, lanky gun guy that many in the crowd had come to see, Hickok45, took his turn at the podium to generous applause. The folksy charm that is his YouTube trademark was on full display on the Capitol lawn.
We see the primary obstacles as these gun-banners that work in this beautiful building behind us. The REAL obstacle are our friends and neighbors who voted them into office! We are in a battle for the hearts and minds of our neighbors, our co-workers—a lot of people we know!
We are in this together. The last thing we need is anything that unnecessarily divides us.
To sustained applause, Hickok45 declared, “Everybody…is welcome in our big Bill of Rights party,” adding, as he wound up his remarks, “The real rally is at the voting booth!”
To close out the rally, the sponsors looked to the popular firearms reviewer Tim Harmsen, the founder of the Military Arms Channel.
Harmsen went straight to the issue that is roiling some quarters of the firearms community: the debate about confronting the “assault rifle” confiscation proponents with the cry “We Will Not Comply!”
Declared Harmsen, “I will NOT comply if you are going to disarm me!”
“So…do I stand alone? Or how many Patriots will not comply!
Harmsen then led the crowd in the chant with the words that were seen on quite a few signs at the gathering. As “I WILL NOT COMPLY!” echoed across the National Mall, he added, “You can stick your gun control where the sun don’t shine because patriots ain’t gonna let it happen!”
To generous applause, Harmsen thanked everyone for attending, and noted that most, if not all, had made sacrifices to be there. Then, to whoops and cheers, he held aloft a “We Will Not Comply” placard.
As the event ended, a number of attendees were overheard expressing surprise that the expected episodes of heckling and insults from passing anti-gun people never materialized.
Rally organizer Rob Pincus told TTAG that a careful approach that focused on the the Second Amendment — and not on political personalities — was a strategy that worked to minimize interference.
Jeff Hulbert is founder of The Patriot Picket.