A group of Utah-based gun advocates are organizing the United States’ first ever “open carry” marathon in September. The event, titled “Run 4 Guns,” will feature a 5K run and a 0.5 mile “Armed Dash” in which participants are encouraged to run with their firearms to raise awareness about Second Amendment rights.
The event, which will take place on Sep. 21 in Spanish Fork, Utah, will benefit the victims of gun violence. In an interview with the Associated Press, the marathon’s organizer, Macgregor Whiting, said that he wants the event to show that gun owners are ordinary, responsible citizens. He also said that he wanted to show the world that anti-gun activists aren’t the only ones being proactive about gun violence.
“Our purpose is to create more awareness and to make a difference,” he said. “We want gun owners and the right to bear arms to be seen in a true light and to be respected. And we also want to show our concern, and show that we, as citizens, we value giving back and making a difference in our community.”
Whiting said that he takes issue with gun-owners being commonly portrayed as “extreme and insensitive.” The 26-year-old Utah county resident added, “We thought it would be a positive reflection on people who support Second Amendment rights, and that it could make a difference for those affected by tragedy.”
According to the Salt Lake City Weekly, the race has already been approved by the city and has begun to accept runners. Whiting said that in keeping with the race’s strict safety rules, runners will be required to either holster their firearm, or remove ammunition from the chamber or detach the magazine. The website’s Official Race Policy also stipulates that all unholstered weapons would be checked in and zip tied.
Not surprisingly, the event has sparked debates over the adequacy of its safety precautions. "Raising money for victims of violence of any kind is a worthy cause and should be supported," Gary Sackett of the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah told the AP. "As to the necessity or even the symbolism of strapping on your guns to do so, seems to us to be at best, sophomoric and juvenile."
"If you want to say, we believe we have a right to carry firearms but we want to raise funds for victims of firearms, then that's fine," Sackett said. "But to strut around with your firearms seems to be nothing more than a kind of in your face gesture."
Whiting contradicted that claim, saying that those who were worried about safety just didn’t know enough about guns. "Most of the concern is just people's preconceived ideas about it," Whiting said.