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Oath Keepers bails on open-carry gun rally outside of D.C.

The much-discussed group that gives military veterans an oath to defend their country against their government is pulling out of an April 19 rally that was set to attract considerable media attention. The reason: reports of inflammatory rhetoric from organizers of the rally, who planned to display their guns.

Oath Keepers endorses Americans’ protected right to keep, and bear, arms. In keeping with our stance, Oath Keepers’ representatives have recently performed oath ceremonies at open-carry rallies at several State capitols, including before the capitol buildings in Kentucky and Montana. We fully support the right of Americans to peaceably assemble and publicly exercise their right to bear arms right along with their right to free speech, association, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.

However, because of published statements by some participants in the upcoming Virginia rally, Oath Keepers as an organization feels that a confrontational stance, such as has been published, places this event, in public perception, outside the terms of our stated and published mission. The mission of Oath Keepers is not to confront the government. Instead, our mission is to reach out to people within government – to police, military, firefighters and first responders – to teach them about their obligations under the oath they took to defend the Constitution, to increase their knowledge of the Constitution, and to inspire them to defend it by refusing to obey unconstitutional, unlawful orders. That’s it. And if we can reach enough of them with that message, it could prevent possible future egregious violations of the Bill of Rights in a very peaceful way. Confronting the government is not included in the Oath Keepers stated and published mission and as an educational organization focused on the current serving, Oath Keepers refrains from confrontation in deed and rhetoric.

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes will, however, speak at a pro-gun rights rally later that day in Washington -- where no firearms will be on display. Both rallies had been catching flack for being scheduled on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, which activists point out is also the anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

By David Weigel  |  April 13, 2010; 6:12 PM ET
Categories:  Fringe , Second Amendment  
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