Hundreds of people gathered outside the Statehouse on Thursday for a rally promoting the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.
Members of the crowd withstood a brisk wind while cheering and holding signs as speakers lashed out against efforts to tighten restrictions on firearms. Several references were made to a “line drawn in granite,” which anyone wanting to take New Hampshire guns would have to cross.
Signs included phrases like “No gun law is good gun law” and “Gun control isn’t about guns. It’s about control.” There were also several “Don’t Tread on Me” flags scattered among the crowd and several people emphasized their stance by bringing weapons, some with rifles, some handguns and some with both.
“I have a concealed weapons permit. It’s an open carry state. It’s my right to do so,” said Mark Clark, who was carrying his Smith & Wesson M&P 15 rifle over his right shoulder and had a Glock handgun holstered on his left hip. “It’s just my way of saying I’m proud of what I have and I will defend what I have.”
Garrett Lear, “The Patriot Pastor” led off the rally dressed head to toe in clothing circa 1775, including a reproduction musket strapped over his shoulder.
“We have guarantees in our Bill of Rights, not government grants,” Lear said. “The founders recognized the right to keep and bear arms as an inalienable right of self defense to be protected by government rather than infringed or abridged by it.”
Granite State Patriot and Rochester 912 Project organized the rally, which was the latest since the debate over gun control has grown in the wake of the Dec. 14 school shooting murders in Newtown, Conn. President Barack Obama is pushing for tighter firearms regulation, including background checks for all guns, reinstating the assault-weapon ban and limiting the amount of ammunition magazines can hold.
Clark, a 54-year-old from Twin Mountain, said the nation already has sufficient gun regulation. The problem, he said, is the existing laws aren’t being enforced properly and the country needs to do more when it comes to treating the mentally ill.
“Taking guns away or registering guns or limiting what I can own is not going to have the impact on crime,” he said. “I follow the rules. I keep my guns locked up. I keep my ammunition separate. I do have a concealed weapons permit. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not the problem and why should I be penalized?”