Sunday, April 18, 2010

**UPDATED** The Gun Movement Comes to Fort Hunt

Tomorrow, a group of national gun activists are holding a rally at Fort Hunt Park here in my district. Here's what the Washington Post says is coming:

Almond plans to have his pistol loaded and openly carried, his rifle unloaded and slung to the rear, a bandoleer of magazines containing ammunition draped over his polo-shirted shoulder. The Atlanta area real estate agent organized the rally because he is upset about health-care reform, climate control, bank bailouts, drug laws and what he sees as President Obama's insistence on and the Democratic Congress's capitulation to a "totalitarian socialism" that tramples individual rights.
I've received emails from quite a few constituents about the rally. The calls range from concern, fear, and outright anger with some.

Living in Northern Virginia this close to the Nation's Capitol and so many federal facilities has its benefits. Our economy is more stable which means lower unemployment, stable home values, more predictability, and a high quality of life.

Fort Hunt Park and the George Washington Memorial Parkway are part of the National Park Service, but they are not really national parks in the sense way that most people think of them. Most park users are probably my constituents.

Fort Hunt is a community park - I taught my two oldest daughters how to ride their bikes there because it has a big oval with little traffic. Every morning it's filled with walkers, joggers, and bikers. On weekends, it's full of barbecues. The picture on the right is from the summer concert series. It's about half a mile from my kids' elementary school. Open carried firearms are not allowed in Fairfax County's Parks. Fort Hunt Park is not an appropriate place for a national gun rights' rally.

I'm a strong believer in the First Amendment. Fairfax County and the Commonwealth of Virginia led the way and adopted the Virginia Declaration of Rights before we even adopted the Constitution of Virginia or the United States Constitution.

I also am not significantly concerned that these protestors will do anything inappropriate. In my short experience as an elected official, I have found that most concealed carry permit holders and pro-gun activists tend to be very knowledgeable, responsible, and serious people. They understand that gun ownership privileges are special and are very careful not to do anything to jeopardize their ability or other's ability to carry.

However, there are many ways to express your opinion. From my point of view, writing a letter to the editor, starting a blog, or running a TV ad are much more effective methods of communication than staging a rally with a loaded and/or unloaded weapons in what is really a suburban neighborhood park just because you can do it.

This rally has unnecessarily caused a lot of people a lot of concern in my district and I will be happy once it is over.

It has been pointed out to me that open carry is permitted in Fairfax County Parks. Open carry is prohibited in State Parks, but the General Assembly has not granted any locality the authority to prohibit guns in local parks.


  1. Writing a letter, starting a blog, or running a TV ad get nowhere near the attention of a peaceful gathering in a park. For some reason, that makes people sit up and notice.

    They're noticing, by the way, the very same people who walk next to them in the grocery stores, who stand in line with them at the bank, who nod as they pass on the street, who take their kids to the park. Most of the time, you don't see the guns. Those of us who understand protection beats response every time are usually, or always, armed. We're your neighbors, your firefighters, your cable guys, your trash collectors, etc. You see us every day.

    See the person, not the gun, and you will no longer have to fear inanimate objects.

    It isn't "over". These events will continue.

    Gun ownership is not a privilege. It is a right.

  2. "This rally has unnecessarily caused a lot of people a lot of concern in my district and I will be happy once it is over."


    I live in this district. I am proud they chose this area for their protest! Have you forgot that they did this protest here because Washington DC treats its residents like "subjects", not "citizens"? Probably. Funny, but as I walk around these very same areas you talk about the "concern", I find nobody I talk to on the street as "concerned" about law abiding citizens, its the "CRIMINALS" they are concerned with. Hope you heard that!

    "I'm a strong believer in the First Amendment."

    So, you support the 1st amendment, but only if it fits in your "cookie cutter template"?

    NONE OF the Constitution or its Amendments are negotiable.

    I carry everyday in Fairfax County. A majority of the time, openly. I have taught those of all sexes, races and religious backgrounds of their rights to own and carry in this great state!

    I frequent businesses that support ALL of the constitution, and by-pass those that do not.

    Please remember, just because we live in Fairfax County, does not mean that state laws and the constitution do not apply!

  3. Thanks for your comments.

    I did not receive a single comment or email in support of this rally before it happened. I received many emails asking how it could be stopped. My point above was simply that the venue chosen was not a good place, not that having a protest was an improper activity.

    I advised everyone who contacted me that it was this group's right to have their rally at this park.

    The Supreme Court has also declared that the Second Amendment protects and individuals right to possess a handgun in federal enclaves. There is a case pending as to whether that right is incorporated on to the states via the Due Process Clause and/or Privileges and Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment.

    As with all rights, they are not unlimited - e.g. you cannot scream fire in a crowded movie theatre pursuant to the First Amendment. When I was referring to privileges above - I was referring to privileges associated with asserting that right not the right itself - e.g. conceal carry permits which I'm pretty sure Heller or any case afterwards will not invalidate.

  4. Someone needs to tell these "tea partiers with guns" that just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD. Don't these guys have mothers?

    We went to both events (Fort Hunt Park and Gravelly Point) and found them pretty much wash-outs. Perhaps 24 people at the first, and 50-70 at the second. Supposedly they were expecting hundreds, if not thousands. Pitiful.

    But the press! Lord help us, there was more press than there were participants. Every major news organization, and lots of foreign ones as well. I guess numbers really don't matter; if you want to get noticed, you just need to carry lots of loaded weapons, encourage violence, talk sedition and threaten treason.

    Apparently, the new health care bill is the greatest threat to our liberty and freedom in 200+ years! Yes, a few of them also made passing reference to the Patriot Act, the War, Katrina, etc. but, funnily enough, they didn't make a peep when THAT was going on. No, mostly it was Health Care and, of course, WACO. April 19th, as everybody here now knows, is the anniversary of Waco and the anniversary of Timothy McVeigh's act of revenge and terrorism against the federal government.

    Well, at least they left their Confederate flags at home.

  5. My personal count is 3 loved ones dead from legal guns, none saved. So when I see someone with a gun, I feel sick. And they're protesting the loss of gun rights from the prez that signed the bill allowing open carry in national parks in this manner- logic is not part of this equation.