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Pro-Second Amendment marchers fear much more than gun laws

During the lengthy, sparsely attended Second Amendment March on the Mall, I sought out specific gripes about the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress. In what ways had the governing party restricted the Second Amendment rights of protesters? The answer: It hasn't. Not yet.

"I think that most of the concern here is about the people that Barack Obama has put in," said former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack. "All the czars. Eric Holder. They're all anti-gun. That has people more concerned than any legislation."

Protesters were able to name pieces of legislation that could impede their gun rights, such as H.R. 35. But there was more worry about the overall Democratic agenda. As many people told it, they needed to defend their right to bear arms because of the mounting threats against their freedom

"Look at the Warsaw ghetto, "said Lynn Myers, a 45-year-old activist from Pennsylvania who came to the rally wearing a Cossack-style fur hat with an Obama pin on it. "The Germans took all their guns away. The thing is, in Poland at that time, when the rumors started coming out about what was going on unseen -- them hauling the Jews off, putting them in camps -- everybody there said 'Not in Poland! We're too sophisticated, too advanced, too enlightened!' Much like people think now, it just can't happen here."

Myers stopped a moment to think about this.

"It would be a lot harder here," he said. "If it comes down to a civil war, the left knows that the military won't step in, because most of them take their oaths seriously, and most of them won't fight their own brethren. The right is much better armed."

Protesters were aware that no gun legislation was moving through Congress.

"Gun bills have become the third rail of politics," said John Josselyn, legislative vice president of the Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore. Anti-gun groups were so weak in Maryland, he said, that when one such group folded, he was able to capture its legal and domain names.

But political victory hadn't inspired much more confidence. Bill Buttle, a retiree from Colorado, hoisted a sign reading "No! No! No! To the U.N. gun ban treaty." He explained to me that, while he couldn't remember the name of the specific treaty that might strip Americans of their gun rights, he feared that President Obama might sidestep the U.S. Senate and sign such a bill.

"There's parts of the health care bill that are written to go after guns, too," he said.

I had an unusual amount of trouble getting the names of attendees -- one man told me he would answer only two of the 10 Census questions, for example -- but their opinion of the media presence at the rally was largely positive. Reporters were everywhere. Stewart Rhodes of Oath Keepers conducted interview after interview, telling anyone who would listen about his belief that both the Bush administration and the Obama administration posed a serious threat to freedom. Arizona's Mack told me he was happy with the amount of media despite the "disappointing" size of the rally.

"You go tell Chris Matthews: There were black people here!" said Mack, an occasional guest on MSNBC's "Hardball." "There were Asian people here! There were women." Mack smiled, turned and pointed to a woman standing next to him, signing books. "You're a woman, ain't you?"

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By David Weigel  |  April 19, 2010; 5:15 PM ET
Categories:  Second Amendment  | Tags: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Presidency of Barack Obama, Right to keep and bear arms, Second Amendment, Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, United States, United States Congress  
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Next: Taking the oath, and other Second Amendment March scenes

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