Saying that politicians in Massachusetts and across the nation are trying to strip them of their "God-given rights for ... self protection," gun rights activists rallied on the Boston Common Wednesday to stand up to attempts to tighten controls on firearms.
"Our Second Amendment rights require us to show up and be seen," said Steve Moysey, vice president of the Northboro-based Gun Owner's Action League. "If we don't speak out and remember where we came from ... we could lose those rights and once we lose them we're never going to get them back."
Moysey spoke from the Parkman Bandstand on the Common to a crowd of nearly 1,000 people holding American flags and various pro-gun signs. The rally was organized GOAL, the official state association of the National Rifle Association.
Some of the rally attendees then marched up to the State House to try to convince lawmakers to stop their effort to expand gun control regulations.
The rally comes after repeated news conferences by local politicians who have called for tighter national controls on guns. Leading the charge has been Mayor Thomas Menino who is also co-chair of the national group Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Despite the strong voices here in Massachusetts speaking about the need for better gun control, those who attended the rally felt like they could still make an impact.
"We have no choice but to try," said Arthur Saarinen, a 61-year-old from Lexington who showed up to the rally with two flags: an American flag and one with an assault rifle that said "Come and take it."
"The message is we're tired of this [expletive]," Saarinen said. "We're tried of having our rights infringed upon."
Yang Li, a member of GOAL, spoke to the crowd while holding up the red outline of a person on a target sheet. The holes in the sheet were from his six-year-old son's first time shooting, he said.
Li said he believes gun owners do have a chance to curb efforts on gun control in Massachusetts, citing the "dedicated" activists.
"We realize we are out numbered here in the Commonwealth, but we have the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box and the ammo box," he said.
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.