Maine governor addresses gun-rights rally
AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage spoke to more than 100 people who turned out for an outdoor gun-rights rally at the State House despite the snowstorm and bitterly cold temperatures.
LePage drew cheers when he told the crowd Friday morning that their rights to have guns won't be abridged while he's governor.
LePage mingled with the crowd after his brief remarks and shook hands with many of those attending, despite a 5-degree temperature in Augusta and a stiff wind that blew the snow.
The rally came two days after a coalition formed in the wake of the Dec. 14 Connecticut school shootings announced its support for state legislation to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people, limit magazine capacity, have universal background checks and promote gun safety.
Second Amendment rally draws 300 to NJ Statehouse
TRENTON, N.J. — In dreary weather outside the New Jersey Statehouse, hundreds rallied Friday for the Second Amendment and against the state's gun control laws, among the nation's toughest.
Amid the crowd of about 300, some carried signs that read: "We're good guys with a gun," ''If guns kill people, cars cause drunk driving" or "No guns (equals) tyranny."
Evan Nappen, a lawyer who has written three books on gun laws, was among the first to speak.
"I am really sick of gun owners being scapegoated every time the system fails," he said, adding that New Jersey's gun laws were "oppressive."
Gov. Chris Christie declined an invitation to address the rally, citing a scheduling conflict. His staff said he was attending meetings outside Trenton in the morning, but planned to be in the Statehouse later in the day.
The governor has refused to say whether he supports stricter gun laws. Christie created a task force to study gun-related violence after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre. He also has called for better treatment options for people with mental illness, but hasn't been specific.
Organizer Frank Fiamingo said he hopes to discuss the issue with the governor soon.
Democratic Sen. Barbara Buono, who is running for governor, has called on Christie to take a position on gun control. In kicking off her campaign a week ago, she vowed to "do what the current governor has been unwilling to do, take on the gun lobbyists who are standing in the way of protecting our children and keeping our streets safe."
The Legislature's two most conservative members, Sen. Michael Doherty and Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, both Republicans, spoke to the crowd.
"I want you to know there's a number of us in the Legislature that do agree with you 100 percent and we're going to be fighting every step of the way to protect your constitutional rights, law-abiding citizens taking care of their families, taking care of their homes," said Doherty, who represents parts of Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren counties.
Gun rights supporters show force at Wash. Olympia
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Supporters of gun rights in Washington are showing their force at the state Capitol.
A few hundred proponents rallied in Olympia on Friday, carrying guns and signs while decrying efforts to restrict weapon sales. State lawmakers have proposed a variety of ways to combat gun violence this year, including an expansion of background checks and allowing teachers to carry firearms.
Gun advocates say new restrictions on gun sales and magazine capacities would infringe on Second Amendment rights. Some suggested that it would be better to eliminate "gun-free" zones or strengthen punishments for those who commit crimes with firearms.
Supporters of new gun restrictions are optimistic that some legislation could pass the Legislature this year as lawmakers respond to the mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.
Pro-gun group rallies at Okla. Capitol
OKLAHOMA CITY — A group of gun rights supporters gathered Friday outside the Oklahoma state Capitol to recruit members for a militia and urge the Legislature not to impose any restrictions on gun rights.
About 80 people, several openly carrying firearms, attended the rally sponsored by the Oklahoma Defense Force, a survivalist group that has a militia. Some carried "Don't Tread on Me" flags and others held signs criticizing President Obama and U.S. Sens. Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe. A young boy carried a sign that read: "I'm Safer Because my Band Mommy Packs Heat."
Under Oklahoma's Self-Defense Act, it is legal for an individual with a handgun license to carry a firearm on state property, but not inside a state, county or municipal building. There were no uniformed law enforcement officers at the event, but Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. George Brown said the group applied for a permit last month.
"We were aware of what they were doing," Brown said. "They came and caused no problems."
Self-described Oklahoma Defense Force militia commander Ron Cross, who led the rally, said he's mostly concerned with attempts by the federal government to regulate the possession and ability to carry weapons.
"My Constitution tells me it's a right and it shall not be infringed," Cross said. "Let's organize, folks. We've got to stand and we've got to stand now."
Cross said the militia has about 300 members, and encouraged those in attendance who were interested to sign up.
"Oklahoma has one of the most organized militias nationwide," he said. "I'm not only helping Oklahoma. I'm working with other states to get their militias up and running."
Oklahoma's Republican-controlled Legislature has pushed to expand gun rights in recent years. Last year, they approved a so-called "open carry" law that allows individuals with a handgun license to openly display their weapon in a holster. That law took effect in November.
Legislators this session will be considering measures to expand where an individual is allowed to carry their weapon to include public meetings, parks and recreational areas.
Among those in the crowd was former Republican state Rep. Charles Key, who said in 2010 that he supported the creation of a state militia as a way to push back against an overreaching federal government.
Sean Henson, an ex-Marine from Broken Arrow, carried a holstered .40-caliber handgun on his hip. He said he was interested in the militia, saying it's a good way for a group of like-minded people to ensure government authorities won't confiscate their firearms.
"If the government decides to come and take 'em, they're going to send 30 men to take all your guns. If you're just one guy, they'll definitely put you in your grave," Henson said. "United we stand, divided we fall."
Gun rights demonstrators rally at Oregon Capitol
SALEM, Ore. — Hundreds of demonstrators, many armed with high-powered rifles, descended on the Oregon Capitol Friday to demonstrate their gun rights.
The demonstration is a response to calls for stiffer gun laws in the wake of recent mass shootings. Protesters say they want to show state lawmakers that they're peaceful, law-abiding gun owners and will fight any attempt to impose new gun restrictions. Some carried American flags.
It's legal to openly carry a weapon in public, and people with concealed handgun licenses can carry their weapons in the Capitol. Demonstrators kept their protest across the street from the statehouse and few brought their weapons indoors.