Open Carry Walk Draws Crowd
Taking the helm, Rev. John Hodge of Calvary Independent Baptist Church saluted passersby while leading a long line of walkers down Lincoln Way Sunday afternoon, as part of a peaceful demonstration supporting the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. Followed by a pair of American flags and about 130 demonstrators openly carrying their legal firearm of choice, Hodge, a Vietnam veteran and fellow participants, were warmly welcomed in McConnellsburg Borough with waves, thumbs-up and honking car horns.
Prior to taking to the streets with their message and handfuls of brochures to distribute along the way, Hodge opened up the open carry walk demonstration from the stairs of Fulton County Courthouse. Hodge told those on hand the right to bear arms was a right given to the people by God and no government could ever take that away. Hodge asked God to help those on hand remain steadfast as they protect both their homes and families.
Fellow walker Larry Garlock, legislative aide to Rep. Dick Hess, also took the podium sharing words from state representative as well as his own sentiments on the open carry walk. Garlock, a veteran of the Vietnam War, carried with him to the stairs of the courthouse a firearm he took from a deceased Viet Cong while defending the nation’s Constitution. He said of all of the firearms he possesses, he cherishes this rifle the most and refuses to give it up if the decision is ever made to take our guns.
“I thought on the way down here from Bedford County, these are the people nobody has to worry about. You’re not the ones who need more laws,” Garlock told the crowd. “You can’t legislate terrorism anyway. It’s about time for all of the government people in this country to learn what the word outlaw really means. They are the ones to worry about, not you.”
Garlock said Hess truly regretted not being able to attend the open carry walk held April 21 and remained in Harrisburg attending to pressing, legislative matters. Reading from a letter penned by Hess, the representative thanked participants for standing tall and fast for our Second Amendment rights. Citing the commonwealth’s constitution, Hess’s reference to the right of citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state without being questioned drew considerable applause and cheers from the crowd.
“He (Hess) believes we can and should continually review our commonwealth’s gun laws to ensure reasonable restrictions and safeguards are in place to keep weapons from the hands of those who would use them to harm innocent people,” said Garlock citing the prepared statement.
Fellow keynote speaker Fulton County District Attorney Travis Kendall took the crowd back in time to when the Patriots assembled weapons in their hometown of Concord. Restless and unhappy with existing government, Kendall said the Patriots had fallen upon a new, radical idea that common people could rule themselves.
“At that time it was believed that the common man, the farmer, the merchant, the mechanic, needed a king, a duke, an earl, a lord to tell him how to run his life. That radical idea has taken root in this country that the common man could defend himself to take care of his own government,” Kendall said. “ ... Here we are 238 years later, almost to the day, to remind the king, King Barack, that he cannot take our guns.”
Kendall outlined some of the “big lies” being spread throughout the nation regarding a citizen’s right to bear arms. Among those lies referenced by Kendall is that the militia refers to the National Guard. The district attorney said the militia actually refers to the people’s army, not a standing army. “The founding fathers had a fear of the standing army. They had just spent the last six years fighting the standing army. The militia is the people,” said Kendall specifically mentioning federal code dating back to 1916.
The “second big lie,” according to the district attorney, is that a person’s choice of arms must have a legitimate sporting purpose. The Second Amendment is not about turkey hunting or deer hunting. “That clay pigeon is not trying to rob you and is not trying to take away your liberty,” said Kendall.
The next lie outlined by Kendall is that AR and AK-style rifles and their high-capacity magazines are fueling a crime wave in the nation. Citing statistics from the FBI’s annual, uniform crime report, Kendall said rifles of any type are very uncommon in crimes. In 2011, rifles were used in eight murders in Pennsylvania in comparison to 27 homicide cases using hands, feet and fists; 73 deaths from knives and cuttinginstruments; shotguns, 19 cases; and handguns, 379 cases.
“The next big lie or maybe question is who needs a 30-round magazine anyway ... It’s not about the government telling us what we need. It’s about trying to micromanage our lives ... When the government is telling you that you don’t need a 30-round magazine, I suggest to you that you better stock up on them because that’s exactly what you need,” stated Kendall.
“Another big lie is that our founding fathers never envisioned the kind of fire power that you have with an AR rifle and a 30- round magazine. Since they couldn’t envision it, they wouldn’t have supported it,” said Kendall making note of the musket, the most common type of firearms used back then. “It was fast to reload, comparatively, and inaccurate. It was the assault weapon of the day ...”
“Again, we’re here to exercise our right of assembly and free speech to let the government know that Concord could happen again,” he concluded.
Event organizer Bill Watson of Hustontown, spoke briefly with the crowd perusing a list of dos and don’ts including refraining from shooting in the borough, keeping their gun chamber empty and handguns in their holsters as well as avoiding any confrontations with the general public. Urging participants to have a “good walk,” he reminded the crowd that included local gun supporters from both the Republican and Democrat parties, they represented gun owners from “this neck of the woods.”
Demonstrators did adhere to Watson’s suggestions walking throughout the center of town, stopping for pictures, saluting passersby, waving flags and displaying signs stating, “Free men do not ask permission to bear arms.”