An Oklahoma militia and survivalist group recruited members and urged others to defend their right to own guns during a rally Friday outside the state Capitol.
“Together we're a force to be reckoned with,” Ron Cross told about 80 people, several of whom held signs or flags. At least four openly carried handguns.
Cross, of Oklahoma City, several times said lawmakers don't have the authority to give them the right to carry or own a gun.
“That should be my decision, not theirs,” said Cross, who identified himself as commander of about 300 militia members of the Oklahoma Defense Force, which sponsored the hourlong rally.
This is the first week of the legislative session, but lawmakers rarely meet on Fridays. Most in the building were unaware of the rally on the north plaza because the north-side door of the Capitol is not used as an entrance or exit.
Cross, who has been involved with state militia groups since the early 1990s, said his group isn't all that upset with state lawmakers, who last year passed an open-carry measure that lets those with a handgun license openly display their weapon in a holster. Before the law took effect, people with state-issued permits had to conceal their weapons. Those with a handgun license may carry them openly on Capitol grounds but not in the building.
“For the most part, Oklahoma has good gun laws,” Cross said. “They need to be better.”
He said it shouldn't be a crime for anyone to carry a gun for self-defense.
“Defending yourself is not a crime,” he said. “That's a God-given right.”
Cross and others were mostly frustrated with President Barack Obama and those in Congress who are pressing for gun controls, including a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons.
“I don't believe total gun control is the answer,” he said. “The people in Washington, they're all out of line when they're regulating people.
“What about innocent people that get hit in gunfire?” Cross asked the crowd. “Well, let me ask you a question: What about all the innocent people that are dying on the roads? There's always ... going to be some type of collateral damage.”
Will Hawkins, of Norman, said he is concerned the federal government will try to take away people's rights to own guns. “It's scary where we're going,” he said. “They just keep chipping away at our freedoms, and if we keep allowing that to happen it's not going to go good.”
Several people carried American flags, yellow “Don't Tread on Me” flags or white flags with the words “Come Take It” above an assault rifle.
Brigham French, 11, of Rush Springs, held two signs: “I'm safer because my bad mommy packs heat” and “Sitting duckling in a gun-free zone. Allow my teacher to conceal carry!”
His mother, Lorri French, said it was more important for her son to attend the rally than attend school. “If they start taking away our Second Amendment rights, it's not going to be long before they take away our First, and then it's going to snowball,” she said.
Her husband, Chris French, held a sign that read: “Good enough to carry a 30-round magazine in Iraq but only a 5-round clip in America??? Buffalo chips.” He said he retired from the military two years ago after serving 20 years, including being deployed twice to Iraq.
“We want to have our guns, we should have them,” he said. “It's our right, Second Amendment right. And I'm going to stand up for it.”