TYLER, TX (KLTV) - East Texans marched the streets of downtown Tyler on Thursday, carrying rifles and shotguns with muzzles down, exercising their Second Amendment rights.
"You all have the distinction in taking part of what will be the first annual open carry celebration," announced participant Adam Kirby, as a crowd of East Texans applauded.
"This was really just a group of four guys who sat down at the table and said, 'Hey, how do we need to do this? How many people do we need to get to make it happen?' We said twenty people," explained one of the march's organizers, Stephen Lee.
That number grew by the dozens. In all, about 200 people showed up for the open carry march. Among the crowd, parents whose children marched by their side.
"This is an opportunity for me to show my boys what it is to be American, and what it is to be free, and a chance to show the government and our elected officials that we still appreciate the right to bear arms," explained participant Shaun Galbraith.
Matt Thiessen helped organize Thursday's march and brought his son along.
"It's easy for us to tell our children to do what's right, to do what's difficult, to be the only man standing if necessary. Rather than just hearing my words, he was really hearing my actions," Thiessen said.
Walter Meadows brought his six-year-old son to the march.
"I used to be in the Marine Corps Infantry, and I feel that it's important for him to know that this is our right, this is our right as American citizens; a right that we have by birth," Meadows said.
The event started with a safety demonstration and everyone we spoke to said they really did not have any concerns.
"You see that these are good, conservative people that are out here putting safety first and just celebrating their rights to keep and bear arms," said Smith County District Attorney, Matt Bingham.
"I see nothing, but responsible gun owners here," Kirby said.
Many arrived early, to hear a reading of the Declaration of Independence and watch as the Sons of the American Revolution posted colors.
"I personally got goose bumps when I heard the Declaration read. Standing there together with a group of men and women who really believe the words that were being read and are willing to stand for it. And so, that was emotional in some ways for me," Lee explained.
A group united by their beliefs and rights, something they say they are ready to fight for.
"Our constitution is the backbone of this nation, our forefathers gave their lives. I will defend it to my dying breath," said participant Denise Leopard.