- The Washington Times - Monday, April 19, 2010

Gun owners came out in force Monday on both sides of the Potomac River to proclaim their Second Amendment rights, but only those on the Northern Virginia side of the river came bearing their handguns and rifles.

Hundreds of pro-gun activists rallied near the base of the Washington Monument on the National Mall and at Fort Hunt Park in Fairfax County and Gravelly Point in Arlington, with those in the District protesting the city’s strict laws prohibiting them from displaying their guns in public.

“I’m here to support the Second Amendment,” Mike Julius, 50, of Crofton, Md., said at the D.C. event. “Gun ownership is a constitutional right.”

Speakers at the event urged the crowd to support pro-gun candidates in this fall’s midterm elections. Organizers said the Northern Virginia event, in which participants carried guns in holsters and toted unloaded rifles over their shoulders, was the first such rally in a national park since Congress earlier this year allowed visitors to carry firearms in national parks.

Among the signs at the National Mall protest was one that read, “The Constitution isn’t a list of suggestions.” Another, taking a veiled swipe at President Obama, read, “The difference between a communist and a socialist is that a socialist doesn’t have all the guns yet.”

In a landmark case, the Supreme Court in 2008 struck down the District of Columbia’s gun laws, considered among the most restrictive in the nation, ruling that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of individuals to own guns. The city has passed new gun laws in the wake of the court decision, but those laws also are now facing a challenge from Congress.

Organizers said Monday’s rallies were timed to mark the anniversary of the Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775. They said the date was not chosen to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Mr. Julius said he saw shooting as a skill, like archery, but as he developed his interest, he found many legal obstacles in Maryland.

“I’m here because I hope there will be fewer hurdles for gun ownership in Maryland,” he said.

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