Libertarian activist and online radio talk-show host Adam Kokesh wants 1,000 people to march across the Potomac River from Virginia into Washington on July 4 carrying loaded rifles — in a protest against “tyranny.”
And some gun activists think the event — an “Open Carry March on Washington” — may be risky.
Virginia allows the open carrying of firearms. The District of Columbia does not.
“That’s a good way to provoke something, and that’s not likely to end well,” Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, told The Washington Post.
The marchers will meet D.C. police on the District side of the bridge, Police Chief Cathy Lanier said.
“There’s a pretty good chance we’ll meet them on the D.C. side of the bridge,” Lanier told WJLA-TV this week.
Kokesh, 31, laid out his plan on his Facebook page: his group, with loaded rifles slung on their backs, will march peacefully around the Capitol and the White House. Then they will return across the Potomac to Arlington Cemetery, where they began.
The point of the protest, the Post reports, is “to put the government on notice that we will not be intimidated.”
Still, a number of laws would be broken if the march occurred, including prohibitions against carrying a loaded weapon, concealed or unconcealed, in the District.
Even possession of a firearm not registered in D.C. carries a penalty up to a year in prison, the Post reports. If that weapon is a pistol, it’s five years.
Kokesh told the Post that his group would respond “with satyagraha” should they be met by D.C. authorities. The term was used by Mahatma Gandhi to describe his strategy of nonviolent resistance to British rule in India.
But does this mean that violence is unacceptable?
“Only if absolutely necessary in defense of life or limb,” he told the Post in a text message.
But early on in calling for the event, the ex-Marine had used Facebook to take a more confrontational stance, the Post reports.
“Break whatever unconstitutional law you choose,” he wrote, saying July 4 should be a day of massive civil disobedience citywide. “‘Law Enforcement’ has made it clear they have no respect for the Constitution and so we will shut them down by overwhelming them.”
Authorities told the Post that they have not discussed the event with Kokesh — and he said he would not go through with the march unless 10,000 people signed up on Facebook by June 1.
That means about 1,000 people would actually show up, he told the Post.
As of late Wednesday, 4,162 people had signed up on Facebook.
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