Editor’s Note: The following piece is by John Petrolino, a New Jersey writer, author, NRA certified pistol, rifle and shotgun instructor.
News coverage is ablaze concerning a recent poster that is allegedly circulating in social media. The poster advocates for a nation-wide armed protest at both the US Capitol and the Capitols of every state. One of the earliest pieces of coverage on this story was from News 12 in New Jersey. Shortly following suit other networks and news outlets picked it up.
Chatter on Parler about an “ARMED MARCH ON CAPITOL HILL & ALL STATE CAPITOLS” on Jan. 17th, too.
— Marcus Baram (@mbaram) January 9, 2021
On January 11th, NJ 101.5 picked up the story putting out the following headline: Armed pro-Trump rally planned for NJ?
Eric Scott, the Senior Political Director of NJ 101.5, reports:
An online flyer also calls for an “armed march on Capitol Hill and all state capitols” next Sunday. No single group is named as an organizer for such a rally, but Trump supporters have been posting and sharing the flyer on social media. Over a background of the Statue of Liberty, bold letters proclaim: “Refuse to be Silenced. Demand Freedom. Stand up for Liberty.”
The thought of an armed protest in New Jersey is beyond laughable. At least from the law abiding gun owner’s perspective. Any show of force in the Garden State would be met with swift action, as gun owners are well aware they would run afoul of the law should they ever attempt such an antic.
Scott further quips:
New Jersey State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan says he has been coordinating a possible response with the FBI and Office of Homeland Security. Callahan also warned about bringing a weapon to any rally, telling News 12 New Jersey: “Expect to be arrested and your weapons seized if you don’t have the proper documentation to carry.” Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora told News 12 that he plans to speak with his police officials about security as well.
Being engaged in the law abiding firearm community in New Jersey, I did some digging around and there are no such reports of an armed rally or protest in said community. Theresa Inacker, the Communications Director of The Coalition of New Jersey Firearm Owners, says she’s heard nothing about a protest either.
Of course, no one in New Jersey’s 2A community had even heard of this protest. But you can guarantee, if things go wrong, you (WE) will be blamed for it.
Inacker is right. Should something happen in Trenton, the fault will fall directly on the shoulders of the law abiding gun owner. The insinuation that a law abiding gun owner in New Jersey would do such a thing is beyond tone deaf to our current plight. From Inacker’s article:
Actually, whoever wrote the flyer demonstrates a complete blind spot, or lack of understanding about how things work here in New Jersey. You all know about New Jersey’s impossible justifiable need standard, required to be to proven before one can be issued a carry permit. What do they think we are doing–Filing a multitude of lawsuits to gain carry just for the heck of it? We are filing litigation non-stop to have the state of the law changed and civil rights restored.
Pulling further from Inacker’s work, she outlines that others have heard of no such planned protest from the New Jersey firearm owning community:
Mark Cheeseman, a Plaintiff who had the gumption to bring a carry case (#19-27; CNJFO filed an amicus brief and raised funds for it AND ANJRPC’s Rogers case!) all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States stated “N.J.s most active pro-Second Amendment page on social media shows that nothing has been discussed or planned. And past rallies were done with permits and NO FIREARMS. And were very peaceful.”
Dan Grdovic, acting President of the Coalition of New Jersey Firearm Owners said: “I have attended several rallies in Trenton supporting the Second Amendment in the past. There were no firearms. Not only have they been 100% peaceful, the city has also been cleaner upon completion of these rallies than before they began. This yellow journalism disparaging otherwise good people in the name of selling ink for tabloid ratings is getting very old.”
I reached out to Eric Scott concerning this story with the following statement:
There are no reports in the NJ firearm community concerning this… Please let me know if you would like to reach out to 2A leaders on this subject and I will connect you. This is a very dangerous situation, NJ gun owners have no such intention – I am on nearly ALL the NJ firearm related social media groups, this is not being discussed as something we would ever do.
Scott failed to respond to my correspondence.
None of this is to diminish any possibility of a threat. The FBI, State Police, et.al. should take situations like this seriously. I cannot speak for all the gun owners for New Jersey, however, many of us want to set the record straight…We know of no such plans nor would it be advisable to do such a thing in New Jersey. I’m thankful that our authorities are prepared should something happen. But don’t start wagging your finger in the faces of New Jersey gun owners, implement more draconian legislation, or vilify us should something occur. There is no buzz in our community endorsing this.
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of “Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use” and NRA certified pistol, rifle and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii