Two Oregon men carrying semiautomatic rifles on their backs caused alarm and even prompted a learning center to go into lockdown on Wednesday, but the men said they were just exercising their Second Amendment right to bear arms in public.
Warren Drouin and Steven Boyce, both 22, were spotted walking around a Portland neighborhood around 2 p.m., their weapons in full view, KATU-TV reported. Police were called, but because Oregon state law permits the open carrying of firearms, the men weren’t breaking any laws.
Drouin and Boyce said they were just trying to normalize the image of legally carrying weapons in public.
“I just want to educate people that it’s OK however you want to carry or not at all,” Boyce told KATU.
But parents and others in the neighborhood were disturbed and upset by the display, which came less than a month after a gunman used a semiautomatic rifle to massacre 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
“That’s not the purpose of the Second Amendment, to frighten citizens, to frighten women and children,” Susan Anglada Bartley, the mother of a 9-month-old girl, told the station. “And I don’t think there’s anyone who can argue, especially after the tragedy where so many children were killed – nobody can argue that it’s not scary to have people marauding around Sellwood with guns.”
It also happened the same day Vice President Joe Biden suggested President Barack Obama could take “executive action” to crack down on guns.
“It’s completely ridiculous,” Bob Cronk said of Drouin and Boyce’s actions. “I think our right to a peaceful quiet school day comes before their right to brandish their rifles in a family-oriented neighborhood.”
Drouin’s YouTube account, under the username “Markedguardian,” contains dozens of videos of him walking around with his AR-15 strapped to his back and his encounters with law enforcement. He describes himself as a “constitutional guardian and activist…trying to normalize firearms in public.”
“I believe that carry [sic] a rifle daily will bring a strong culture in my area,” he says.
Watch one of Drouin’s videos and take our Blaze poll below. Content warning — some strong language: