Several East Texans are kicking off their fourth of July holiday with an open carry March around downtown Tyler.
Organizers are asking supporters to bring a rifle or shotgun and their family, to participate in a celebratory walk.
They are calling it an "Independence Day Open Carry Celebration Walk" and so far, more than 80 people on Facebook have RSPV'd "yes" to the event. Organizers said they expect that number to grow.
Matt Thiessen helped plan the event and said he knows some are a little hesitant about a march involving loaded weapons, but he wants to reinforce the idea that their goal is a peaceful, celebratory walk.
"These are people just like they are, these are people who go to work every day, who have children. I have children myself; I've been married for 13 years. I have a small business . My interest is in preserving the ability of my family and their family both to be able to live in a free environment," Thiessen said.
The plan is to meet near Tyler's City Hall where organizer's said they've arranged for the Tyler Police Department to give a safety demonstration. Then, participants will march around the downtown square.
"Anyone who is able to own and purchase a long gun is also able to carry that long gun on public property. That would include any sort of rifle, whether it be sporting or hunting or self defense and shotguns. And you can carry that rifle loaded or unloaded at your discretion," explained Stephen Lee, one of the event's organizers.
"Carrying a weapon is much more than looking cool or carrying something to get attention. It's about the right to self defense. It's about having a right to defend ourselves, and that's what the weapon represents," Lee said.
"To me, it's important not only to own a weapon, but to know how to use it and to be ready and willing to for those that you elect in government to represent your sovereignty and your will and to know that you still possess that ability," Thiessen said.
"We just want to bring awareness to that and exercise our rights because by exercising our rights we preserve those rights. If we don't, if we just kind of put them on a mantle not to be used, then we eventually lose those rights," Lee said.
The group will be meeting at 9:45 a.m. on July 4 at 212 N. Border Ave. Tyler TX 75702.
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