Gun owners rally for firearms and freedom
DANVILLE - Support for firearms and freedom could be seen and heard here Saturday as dozens of local gun owners and gun enthusiasts gathered at Routes 54 and 11 with American flags and signs in support of the Second Amendment.
The near constant sounds of horns from passing motorists suggested others supported their efforts.
The rally, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., coincided with National Gun Appreciation Day, which was organized by a group called Guns Across America launched by Texas airline pilot Eric Reed.
When local organizer Brock Hoyes, 40, of Danville, couldn't find information about a local rally, he and friends Ron Mabus and Harry Carodiskey decided to put one together.
"It's not just about guns; it's about freedom," Hoyes said Saturday afternoon. "It's about every citizen and their rights."
Carodiskey, 33, of Danville, said the demonstration will raise awareness and educate people on current events and individual rights.
"It's not a political thing; it's about individual rights," he said.
Hoyes, a member of the National Rifle Association, hunter and longtime voter, said demonstrations and rallies are more effective than calling and writing letters to local legislators.
"This lets the government see that we disagree with what they're doing," he said.
Earlier this week, President Obama introduced a broad plan to curb gun violence. He'll push Congress to reinstate the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, ban the sale and production of magazines with more than 10 rounds, require criminal background checks on all gun sales, and ban the possession or
transfer of armor-piercing bullets.
Hoyes, who doesn't own an assault rifle, said the first two amendments to the Constitution are the most important - the First Amendment grants Americans the freedoms of speech, press, petitioning the government, peacefully assembling and religion, and the second - the right to bear arms - allows them to protect those rights.
He said he has no problem with background checks, but he doesn't want to be listed in a national registry of gun owners.
"If I pass a background check, shred it. I earned that right to own a gun," he said.
He said many of the president's proposals are going to punish responsible, law-abiding gun owners like himself, and there are laws on the books that should be enforced first.
Carodiskey, who said he is a gun owner, NRA life member, hunter, recreational shooter and proponent of individual rights, said the right to bear arms is being questioned.
"Does there need to be a better system? Absolutely," he said. "(But) I'm not saying more restrictions. The answer is not to limit the rights of a law-abiding citizen."
At 2 p.m., there were 15 people at the rally, but Hoyes said others had come and gone throughout the rally, and the group swelled to 33 people at one time.
When he started setting up the signs at 8:40 a.m., passing drivers were honking their horns in support, and there was barely a quiet moment all day, he said.
Carodiskey said there were a few rude gestures, too, but that was not the norm.
Besides, "It's their right to do that," Hoyes said. "It doesn't bother me at all, and that's why it's such a great country."