(WASHINGTON) — Hundreds of thousands of Americans gather each year in downtown Washington, D.C., to celebrate the 4th of July and watch one of the best fireworks displays in the country.
This year, a group of protesters plan to join the throng with loaded guns in an organized act of civil disobedience.
Adam Kokesh, an Iraq war veteran and Internet talk show host, is planning the Open Carry March on Washington as a means of demonstrating individual rights in the face of the government.
“Barack Obama provided the inspiration for this event,” Kokesh told ABC News. “[Because he] has been basically treating the American people like children.”
The Open Carry March urges participants to “march with rifles loaded [and] slung across [their] backs to put the government on notice that we will not be intimidated [and] cower in submission to tyranny.”
Protesters plan to gather at the National Cemetery and march across Memorial Bridge, which links Virginia to the District of Columbia. From there, Kokesh and his crew plan to walk down Independence Avenue to the Capitol, Supreme Court and the White House.
Kokesh, 31, insists the march will be a non-violent event despite the loaded rifles.
“Should we meet physical resistance, we will peacefully turn back, having shown that free people are not welcome in Washington,” he wrote on the Open Carry March Facebook page.
It would be a symbolic turn. Arlington National Cemetery sits on property that once housed the estate of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Kokesh’s plans are not completely reassuring to the District Police force, since Washington is one of the nation’s most regulated cities when it comes to firearms. Under District law, citizens are allowed to possess registered firearms on their property, but are prohibited from carrying them in public. If protesters crossed into Washington bearing guns police would have to arrest them.
“This is an issue of civil disturbance and it is a crime according to both district and federal law to carry a loaded gun in public,” a D.C. police spokesperson told ABC News.
The spokesperson said that if the event escalated “police enforcement will respond as necessary.”
Kokesh, however, hopes for the best.
“I’m hoping that the law enforcement in D.C. will not be enforcing unconstitutional laws, and will allow us to go on our route as planned,” Kokesh said.
“I think it should be clear that if anyone involved in this event is approached respectfully by agents of the state, they will submit to arrest without resisting,” he wrote on the Open Carry March Facebook event page. “We are truly saying in the SUBTLEST way possible that we would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.”
The plans for the Open Carry March come on the tail end of guns rights activists’ success in defeating a bipartisan proposal to expand background checks for firearms purchases.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Cimaron Neugebauer, KUTV