Armed Gun-Rights Leader Compares Himself to Gandhi

On July 4, Adam Kokesh hopes to lead 1,000 protesters armed with guns into Washington, D.C. to advocate for open carry. In Kokesh’s eyes, a crowd armed with guns compares to the nonviolent civil disobedience practiced by Mahatma Gandhi.


Kokesh answered the Washington Postthrough a series of text messages:

Suppose the D.C. police, as they have promised, block the marchers from crossing into Washington? How should they respond?

“With Satyagraha,” Kokesh, 31, texted The Washington Post. That is a term used by Mahatma Gandhi to describe his strategy of nonviolent resistance to British rule in India. [...]

Did his response of “satyagraha” mean violence is unacceptable?

“Only if absolutely necessary in defense of life or limb,” he wrote.

Satyagraha, in Gandhi’s words, is “a way of life based on love and compassion.” Gandhi explained that “[i]n the application of Satyagraha I have discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one’s opponent but that he must be weaned from error by patience and sympathy.”

Compare Satyagraha to Kokesh’s event description on Facebook. Although Kokesh claims his march will “peacefully turn back” if confronted with “physical resistance,” he ominously warns the march will be violent if “the government chooses to make it violent.” He also proclaims that “[w]e will march with rifles loaded & slung across our backs to put the government on notice that we will not be intimidated & cower in submission to tyranny.”

Because open carry is illegal in D.C., the police chief has already warned that “passing into the District of Columbia with firearms is a violation of the law and we’ll have to treat it as such.” Even open carry groups like Gun Owners of America are wary of the march, which is now at over 4,000 Facebook RSVPs.

Kokesh is not alone in trying to link guns to civil rights movements. The argument has at times been taken up by the National Rifle Association and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.

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