Firearms were plentiful on the Capitol grounds Saturday afternoon as about 400 rallied in a show of strength meant to send a message to politicians to protect gun rights.
Many had weapons at their sides or strapped across their backs. Second-defense was a common theme during the Kentucky State Second Amendment March.
Rex Bartley, state coordinator of the Second Amendment March and gun rights rally, quoted the late President Ronald Reagan, saying, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on to them to do the same.”
Bartley said there is absolutely no freedom without the right to bear arms. “I don’t know about you, folks, but I don’t intend to sit down, I don’t intend to be shut up, I don’t intend to the intimidated, and I don’t intend to be silenced.”
Bowling Green’s Rand Paul, Republican candidate for U.S. senator, said “I’m not armed today, but I feel pretty safe. I feel like I’ve got a private security detail out there.
“If we had had one armed pilot we might not have had 9/11. If we had had one armed teacher or student at Virginia Tech we might not have had a massacre.
“Guns are a great defense.”
Paul said one thing that is not reported enough is that we have the lowest home invasion in the world.
“You know why? Those of you who own guns also protect those who don’t because the criminals don’t know who does and who doesn’t. It is a great protection for us.”
Michigan’s Skip Coryell, national founder of the Second Amendment March, said he started the event because he didn’t like the direction the nation was headed.
“I saw a lot of our freedoms being stripped away,” he said. “I was concerned about what the present Congress and administration were going to do. So were a lot of other people.
“So I said let’s band together and go ahead and start protesting and let the government know we’re here and we don’t want them touching the Second Amendment.”
Coryell said he feels there’s more potential for that to happen now because of the voting records of the people currently in power.
“If you look at Barack Obama, he’s got the most anti-Second Amendment voting record of anyone who ever served. I just don’t trust him.
He said when George W. Bush was president, he didn’t feel as threatened.
“We have over 20,000 gun laws on the books right now - that’s state, local and federal. It’s not a partisan thing. Trampling on people’s rights, Republicans and Democrats both do it.
“I think the gun law should be - don’t murder anyone with your gun. If you’ve got that one down, it doesn’t matter where you carry. We’re all carrying here and it’s going to be fine.”
He said people carrying guns at marches isn’t unusual.
He said he’s been to rallies in Ohio, New Hampshire and Arkansas.
“This is fairly normal, at least for rural America,” he said. “In the next few weeks I’ll be in Ohio again, Michigan, Indiana, then on to Washington, D.C. In all those places, with the exception of Washington, we will be carrying firearms. We haven’t had any negative incidents at all and we don’t expect any.”
Frankfort’s Charles Riggs, co-founder of Kentucky Coalition to Carry Concealed, was one of Saturday’s speakers.
Riggs said he came to “be with a lot of others who are primarily concerned with exercising their rights and showing their support for peaceful assembly, and to reject the notion that just because somebody is armed they’re a hazard to the public.
“You look at the behavior of this crowd versus a group from Code Pink or any of the leftist organizations. When those people get together and demonstrate in public, they break out in bad behavior and spit on U.S. service members. They attack people. They beat them up.
“You get a group of people out here like this - they’re all armed. According to the likes of the people who are afraid of us that should result in all kinds of mayhem and murder. But it hasn’t.”
When Riggs was asked if he feels threatened that government wants to take his guns away, he said, “I’m more concerned now because the people who are in the Obama administration are experienced infiltrators of governmental structure.
“They understand how to take away personal freedoms and to enhance the control of government through regulation rather than legislation. Those people are deeply opposed to personal firearms ownership. That’s what concerns me. We have to take back the culture.
“People used to take firearms with them to schools so they could go bird hunting or squirrel hunting after school. Now the mention of a firearm in the halls of the high school will get you arrested and expelled.
“That is a direct result of allowing anti-gunners and leftists to take control of the educational establishment and it’s time for us to take it back. It’s time to decriminalize the notion of being a firearms owner.”
David Burnett, state and national public relations director for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, said his group has more than 43,000 members.
“What we’re trying to do is make sure students, faculty and staff - any citizen whose gone through the state process to get a concealed carry permit - not be forbidden from carrying those for self defense on campus.
The march is part of a national grassroots effort leading to a national march planned next month in Washington, D.C.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.