TYLER, TX (KLTV) - For the second year, members and supporters of Open Carry Tyler are taking to the streets of downtown for Independence Day to practice their Second Amendment rights.
"What good is a gun unless its on you? We have the right to keep and bear arms now constitutionally guaranteed, but even though we do have that right, there are many who don't think that we should," said Matt Thiessen, event co-organizer.
"Now it seems risky, it seems dangerous, illogical to some, but in fact, protecting yourself is the most basic tenets of freedom," Thiessen said.
Manager of Lock and Load Shooting Range, Kenneth Lottmen, says the Open Carry celebration is a responsible showcase of freedom, as long as it remains peaceful.
"As long as they are not walking into restaurants because they can; that's not helping the cause at all. If it's an organized event and it's planned out and law enforcement knows about it, I'm all for it," Lottmen said.
Friday the group plans to make an appeal to heaven and walk around the downtown square seven times, an idea they've taken from Biblical history.
"The Israelites were trusting in God and obeying His command. We don't have a command from God, but we do have an obligation to maintain the rights that God has given us," Thiessen said.
Co-organizer Matt Thiessen says they are just following the example of our forefathers.
"It's an obligation for us to practice what we have, because what is the point in having it if we aren't going to use it? And if you don't use it, we're bond to lose it," Thiessen said.
The celebration will begin at 9 a.m. in the downtown square. The group will read the Declaration of Independence and prayers from the Bible, and then say a prayer asking God to defend their rights.
Officials from the Tyler Police Department declined to comment on camera, but did say they've never had any issue with the open carry group in the past.
Officers will be on regular patrol and police say they will respond if the celebration gets out of hand.