Anderson County residents have organized a rally to show support for the Second Amendment and the U.S. Constitution in Clinton on Saturday.
“Aware of the threat to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of our great nation, some very concerned citizens of Anderson County, Tennessee, have banded together to demonstrate to those who attack our liberties that they will not be successful in their attempts to destroy America,” a press release said.
“While recognizing there is no immediate threat to to our liberties in East Tennessee, we feel strongly that we must stand with those in other parts of our county who are seeing immediate threats to their right to keep and bear arms, a right that is guaranteed and protected by the Constitution of our country,” the press release said.
The rally is scheduled to start at noon Saturday, April 21, on the steps of the Anderson County Courthouse in Clinton. It is meant to “show support and solidarity with freedom-loving citizens throughout the United States,” the press release said.
It will be bipartisan, said Ed Williamson, one of the organizers. He is a Heiskell resident who lives in Anderson County, and he is a retired U.S. Navy chief petty officer, former constable, former reserve deputy for the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, and a former bailiff.
There will be no political speech except as it relates to the Second Amendment, Williamson said.
“This is not intended as an attack but as a defense,” Williamson said.
There have been numerous anti-gun demonstrations in the wake of the latest school shootings, he said.
“I can certainly understand the thinking of those who oppose guns,” Williamson said. But “guns don’t kill people…the gun is only a tool,” he said.
There are a lot of other related issues that could be discussed, Williamson said, including schools and mental health.
The press release said Tennessee Republican John Ragan, an Oak Ridge Republican, will be the featured speaker. Ragan confirmed Friday that he does plan to speak at the event.
The rally will open with a benediction by Pastor Robert Rhyne of Lakeview Baptist Church and the presentation of the national colors.
Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank had been invited to provide welcoming remarks but will be unable to attend due to a death in her family, but she said she is submitting remarks that will be read on her behalf.
Anderson County Sheriff Paul White, who is retiring, and Chief Deputy Mark Lucas, a Democratic candidate for sheriff in the May 1 primary and August 2 election, have been invited to speak as well. But Lucas said Friday they may not be there because there is a large all-terrain vehicle event and concert at Windrock Park north of Oliver Springs, and he and the sheriff will be working along with several extra on-duty personnel for traffic control and other duties.
“If I am able to break away, I will try to come back to Clinton for the Second Amendment rally,” Lucas said.
Russell Barker and Lewis Ridenour, two of the three Republican candidates for sheriff, said they will attend Saturday’s rally. Williamson also expects the third Republican candidate for sheriff, Mark “Hollywood” Whaley, to be at the rally.
Williamson said the candidates for sheriff will not make campaign speeches but will instead speak in defense of the Second Amendment and the right, and need, to keep and bear arms.
He said the Friends of the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation will also be there.
Five people started planning for the Second Amendment rally a month ago, and it is not in response to the student-led walkouts and rallies, including at Oak Ridge High School, that happened on Friday, Williamson said. He said he only learned about the student-led rallies on Friday.
He wants people to learn about and be educated about the Second Amendment, and to help defend it.
“People are only getting one side of the situation,” Williamson said.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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