Gun advocates wear holstered weapons in Maine park

PORTLAND (AP) — About 75 gun rights supporters — most of them wearing side arms — gathered in a public park to exercise their Second Amendment rights Sunday, enjoying hamburgers and hot dogs as joggers trotted by and a small group of demonstrators gathered nearby.

Gun Rally
Joel Page

Cory Mills carries a semi-automatic pistol as he attends a gun-rights rally Sunday, April 25, 2010 at a park in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Joel Page)

Gun Rally
Joel Page

Police stand near a 1951 Willys Jeep with a working .30-caliber machine gun mounted on it at a gun-rights rally Sunday, April 25, 2010 at a park in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Joel Page)

Gun Rally
Joel Page

Kerry Galivan, left, and Cathie Whittenburg, protest at a gun-rights rally Sunday, April 25, 2010 at a park in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Joel Page)

Gun Rally
Joel Page

Ken Decatur, left, speaks with a Portland police officer at a gun-rights rally Sunday, April 25, 2010 at a park in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Joel Page)

 Shane Belanger, a University of Southern Maine student who organized the display of guns, which included a machine gun mounted on a jeep, said the aim wasn't to frighten anyone. Instead, he said, the goal was simply to show that people have a constitutional right to bear arms.

 "A right unexercised is a right lost," Belanger said as the gas grill warmed up on a sunny afternoon. "We're law-abiding citizens, just having a barbecue."

 Dave Nelson, of Gorham, brought his restored olive drab 1951 Willys jeep with an operable .30-caliber machine gun mounted in the back and a box of ammunition. He said he doesn't like what's happening in the country when it comes to work ethic and government intrusion into people's lives.

 "Things are changing drastically," said Nelson, who wore a 9 mm handgun in a holster. "The government owns too many things. It's trying to control people."

 Some critics were incredulous.

 "Where does it stop? You're carrying a .38 on your hip. The next one's carrying .45," said Marine veteran Walter McKertich, 73, of Portland. "If I get a 105 Howitzer, is that OK? They want everything. They don't want any controls whatsoever."

 Another veteran, Norm Rasulis, of Peaks Island, joined the group protesting the display of guns.

 "I've seen no reason to carry (a handgun) since I left the service," he said.

 Maine has fairly liberal gun laws, and the Legislature doesn't let municipalities regulate guns. Nonetheless Dan Skolnik, chairman of the City Council Public Safety Committee, said he'd like to see the city have the right to require permits for people to display their guns in public.

 "Anywhere in the country, cities and towns ought to be able to regulate when people are walking around with a loaded weapon," Skolnik said.

 The gathering in Portland, the state's largest city, is the latest in a series of such open carry events nationwide.

 For the most part, police kept the two groups apart. A few people discussed their differences, and the chats were generally civil.

 Belanger, the student organizer, didn't wear a gun. Neither did Peter Keef, another gun rights supporter. They said they were happy to have both sides air their views.

 "I'm glad that they have the right to do that," said Keef, of Casco, motioning to the counter-demonstrators. "I'm glad we live in a country where that's possible."

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Comments

 's picture

Confederate Flag? Really?

Are my eyes playing tricks on me, or did I see a confederate flag in one of the pictures?   Maine was hardly part of the confederacy, and doesn't have its seditious tradition.   Is this anti-black / anti-Obama symbolism? 

 's picture

Stars & Bars

Isn't it pretty, reality?  Beats the heck out of a french or mexican flag.

 's picture

Nice catch

I didn't notice that in the photo at first. Shouldn't be surprised, I guess. That flag has come to be synonymous with ignorance.

 's picture

FACT: The vast majority of rank and file...

...Law Enforcement officers support the right to keep and bear arms.

LUCIEN DOUCET, JR.'s picture

Are we going back to the wild west???

Some people will do anything for attention.

 's picture

His Presidency isn't over...

How can you categorically say that Obama has NOT made a move to limit firearms or ammunition? No one really knows what goes on behind closed doors at the Whitehouse.

What we can do is look at Obama's voting record on bills that pertain to firearms and ammunition. And in such cases, he has always voted with those who would like to see all civilian arms confiscated or heavily regulated (i.e. make it cost prohibitive for the average civilian to own or use them). His entire staff is a who's who list of anti-gun extremists and hoplophobes who believe the only armed Americans should be Law Enforcement and Military personnel.

John Chick
Monmouth, ME

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." --Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816. ME 14:384

 's picture

Everyone should have a Willys

Everyone should have a Willys jeep with a mounted 30 cal machine gun in case the Martians invade us. A few fragmentation grenades and a rocket launcher would probably help as well.

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