Washington, May 16 (IANS) A US gun rights activist is invoking Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of non-violence, in asking 1,000 supporters to march into the American capital on its July 4 Independence Day carrying loaded rifles.
Activist Adam Kokesh, 31, who according to media reports, “has a history of rabble-rousing and self-promotion”, has vowed to respond “with satyagraha,” if the capital police block the protesters against “tyranny” from crossing into Washington.
“Invoking Gandhi while advocating the carrying of loaded firearms is typical of Kokesh, who in his six years as a professional rabble-rouser has embraced positions on every side of the political spectrum,” the Washington Post said.
Kokesh’s pro-gun protest “to put the government on notice that we will not be intimidated,” will, as laid out on a Facebook page, begin at Arlington Cemetery across the Potomac River in neighbouring Virginia.
Crossing over into the capital, his group, with loaded rifles slung on their backs, will march peacefully around the Capitol and the White House before returning to the starting point.
But the police in Washington, where carrying a loaded weapon, concealed or unconcealed, is forbidden, have said they won’t let it happen.
“There’s a pretty good chance we’ll meet them on the DC side of the bridge,” Police Chief Cathy Lanier said in a TV interview this week as cited by the Post.
Asked by the Post if his response of “satyagraha” meant violence is unacceptable, Kokesh responded with a text message: “Only if absolutely necessary in defence of life or limb.”
But earlier, Kokesh had used Facebook to take a more confrontational stance, the Post noted. “Break whatever unconstitutional law you choose,” he wrote, saying July 4 should be a day of massive civil disobedience citywide.
“‘Law Enforcement’ has made it clear they have no respect for the Constitution and so we will shut them down by overwhelming them.”
Meanwhile, Codepink, a women-initiated left wing “grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end US funded wars and occupations” has said its members also plan to be on the bridge that day to offer hugs to the protesters as a counter to their pro-gun message.
According to a recent study commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Violence there have been 43 mass shootings in 25 states across America over the past four years – or nearly one per month.
But mass shootings account for less than one percent of gun violence deaths with around 8,775 people murdered with firearms in 2010, according to the FBI.
Yet a powerful gun lobby has prevented the adoption of stricter gun laws with mass shootings becoming “a unique feature of American life which have occurred consistently throughout history in every region of the country.” according to Citizens Crime Commission of New York City.