Pro-gun activists planning to exercise their rights by taking to the streets of Virginia and Washington on Independence Day may run into some legal trouble when they cross the bridge into the District.
Event organizer and libertarian radio host Adam Kokesh says the July 4th event “Open Carry March on Washington” is designed to say ”in the SUBTLEST way possible that we would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.”
But D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier did not offer a subtle response when asked about the possible protest, welcoming the rally as long as it does not violate local gun law, which prohibits open carry.
“There’s a difference between civil disobedience, which I think this is being portrayed as, and actual violation of the law,” she said Tuesday on local TV station NewsChannel 8. ”Civil disobedience: People come to D.C. to protest policies and government policy all the time—it’s no problem. But when you cross into the District of Columbia with a firearm and you’re not in compliance with the law, now you’re talking about a criminal offense and there’s going to be some action by police.”
Lanier noted that the organizers have yet to file a permit or make direct contact with Washington police, but she says her department will make contact with them.
“We’ll make sure that they understand that if they want to pass through the District of Columbia, as long as they’re in compliance with the firearms laws for transportation of firearms through the District, we’re all for it. But passing into the District of Columbia with loaded firearms is a violation of the law and we’ll have to treat it as such.”
Organizers appear aware of the possibility of arrest, with Kokesh urging would-be attendees that ”if anyone involved in this event is approached respectfully by agents of the state, they will submit to arrest without resisting.”
More than 2,600 people say they are attending according to the event’s Facebook page.
Kokesh—a self-described libertarian and Iraq war veteran—ran for Congress as a Republican in an unsuccessful campaign to unseat New Mexico Democratic Congressman Ben Ray Luján in 2010.
In his last major D.C. demonstration, Kokesh teamed up with Code Pink protesters to dance at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in protest of a ruling that banned dancing at monuments.