In the Maryland State House this week, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) made gun-control the hot topic. But outside the Annapolis capitol on Saturday afternoon, hundreds of mostly Republican protesters gathered to push back, voicing their support for gun rights.
Members of the crowd of more than 200 people carried signs accusing O’Malley and President Obama of tyranny for trying to impose tough new restrictions on gun purchases. Some carried life-sized cardboard cutouts of weapons and wrapped themselves in the tea party’s yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag.
The rally was Maryland’s answer to Saturday’s “Guns Across America,” a day that gun-rights advocates had encouraged pro-gun rallies to be held in all 50 states.
Prominent Maryland Republicans headlined the event, with speeches from U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, former Maryland Senate candidate Daniel Bongino, and State Sen. Nancy Jacobs, who brought her granddaughter, Abbie, to the event.
“If you’re going to break the law, you don’t care about gun control anyway,” said Abbie.
The blonde 13-year-old said that the Second Amendment is important to her because she is an avid sport shooter, “mostly targets, but some hunting.”
Robert Richardson, who teaches physical education at a Howard County Elementary school and sells guns at a sporting store on weekends, said he wished he could carry a weapon in his school.
“I was teaching a first grade class when I heard about Sandy Hook and I looked around the gym and thought about how defenseless I would be,” he said, “If I were able to carry concealed I would have the ability, the best way to stop the threat and protect my students,” he said. “Otherwise I guess I would throw a dodgeball at him.”
Several who attended the rally said they were not worried about parts of O’Malley’s proposed gun-control package, such as measures that would expand categories of mental health histories that would prevent Marylanders from purchasing firearms.
“It’s just the weapons,” said Marine reservist Charles Lollar, who spoke at the event. “I am not saying I think everyone should be able to own a gun. I support the background checks, I support saying someone who’s mentally ill can’t be buying a gun. But this is about our freedoms. Our founders gave us this right. Any time you infringe upon the Bill of Rights...it’s literally the fabric of our country.”
Brianne Jacobs, a college student from Pasadena, Maryland, was at the rally with her friends. She carried a sign that read: “Nobody Ever Raped a .38.”
“I want to be able to protect myself,” she said.
Republicans weren’t the only ones at the rally.
“I voted for Obama twice and O’Malley,” said Edward Hand. “But I’m here because I feel betrayed with O’Malley proposing these draconian gun laws that are going to take away my right to own the guns that I own or put me through these onerous procedures to keep them.”
According to the group’s Facebook page, “the goal of the rally,” was, “to display the faces of thousands of law-abiding citizens who value the Constitution of the United States and the safeguards provided by the Second Amendment.” The rally was organized by Karen Winterling, a Maryland Republican activist.