Around noon today at Gravelly Point, there they were, together at last: about 65 flag-waving, sign-holding and gun-toting Second Amendment advocates, swarmed by a slightly larger crowd of photo-snapping and microphone-wielding members of the media.
Off to the side, under the shade of some tall trees, about two dozen police officers looked on. Further in the distance, CNN’s John King chatted up a young man wearing nylon cargo pants, a florescent vest and a large rifle.
Nearly all the rally participants had rifles or handguns, and a solid minority had both.
From the bed of a pickup truck, in the middle of the park’s large grass field, people started giving speeches.
“I want to thank the media for coming out, as much as I dislike the media,” said Tom Fernandez, co-founder of a group called Alarm & Muster.
Two counter-protesters held handmade signs criticizing the timing of the rally — on the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. Fernandez thanked them for exercising their First Amendment rights.
Further into the program, another speaker compared the government’s bailout of banks to the hijacking of United Flight 93.
“Does our government not act like suicidal hijackers?” he asked, later shouting the newly-minted term “commie-kazies” as a commercial jetliner roared overhead (it was, at best, a poorly thought-out venue for speeches).
As the speeches continued, reporters conducted one-on-one interviews. Pointed questions were asked.
“What constitutional rights do you think are being violated?”
“What do you think about President Obama?”
“What kind of gun is that?”
Amid the media circus, joggers and bicyclists continued on with their daily routines, some shooting quizzical looks at the gathered crowd.
“I think it’s another Tea Party,” one bicyclist said to another.
Lot of photos, after the jump.