Two dozen gun enthusiasts, Oath Keepers, and vintage 1992 militia members brought their many weapons to two Virginia national parks on Monday to protest encroaching socialism, government tyranny and health care reform, among other things. (When I pulled into the parking lot, a man with a rifle strapped to his back asked me if I was carrying any “long arms,” which did have to be unloaded in the park.) Speakers bashed any number of government officials as they talked about the need to embrace guns and religion and “restore the Constitution.” But it wasn’t entirely clear why they really needed to worry too much about the gun part. After all, gun control laws are disappearing faster than trees in the rainforest. And the greatest irony of all? This rally would not have been possible during the Bush administration. That’s because it was Democrats who helped pass, and Obama who signed, a new law that went into effect in February allowing people to carry guns in national parks.
Those contradictions weren’t totally lost on the rally organizers. Tom Fernandez, a Florida real estate agent and founder of Alarm and Muster, speaking from Ft. Hunt Park, Va., said, “It was President Obama who signed the law that lets us open carry in this park today and we had the gall to take him up on it. That’s the only thing I’m going to thank our president for.”