WISCASSET – About 175 people, many of them shouldering rifles and holstering handguns, showed up outside the Wiscasset municipal offices to rally against gun control Saturday.

The rally focused on several bills concerning concealed handguns proposed by state Rep. Timothy Marks, D-Pittston, and other gun-control measures introduced at both federal and state levels following the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December. Marks, whose legislation would require Maine State Police to keep a centralized database of concealed-weapons permit holders, did not attend the rally.

The event was organized by Jessica Beckwith, a Lewiston resident who is in the process of filing for nonprofit status for her Maine Gun Rights Coalition. She organized a similar rally last month in Augusta that was attended by Gov. Paul LePage.

Although LePage did not make a showing in Wiscasset, the event attracted sign-toting gun supporters of all ages from across the state. Thirteen-year-old Emma Solorzano of Jefferson carried a sign that read: “Gun free zones make me a target.”

“It’s great to see so many kids here,” Beckwith said.

Suzanne Hiltz of Windsor, wearing a handgun holstered at her waist, pushed a double stroller carrying sons Samson, 2, and Thomas, 8 months.

Her husband, Jeremy Hiltz, pastor of the Windsor Memorial Baptist Church, carried a semi-automatic rifle, pistol and a knife as he accompanied sons Jonah, 7, who was carrying a .22-caliber rifle, and Zechariah, 6.

“We are here to show support for the Second Amendment. It is a right given to us by God,” Jeremy Hiltz said.

The pastor said he openly carries weapons every day to show “that regular, everyday people carry.”

Barbara Harvey Campbell held a glittery red, white and blue sign that read: “My God, My Guns, My Governor.” She and her friend Elaine Ribeiro drove up from Portland to rally with Campbell’s brother, Richard Campbell of Trevett. All three said they were life members of the National Rifle Association.

Carol Kemmerer of Hallowell waved a banner that read: “It’s not about skeet shooting.” Kemmerer said she made the banner after the White House released photos of President Obama skeet shooting as he kicked off his own gun-control proposals.

“I was inspired,” Kemmerer said.

A man who identified himself as Tom A. Hawk from the Dover-Foxcroft area carried a replica of the style of gun he said was used in the Revolutionary War. “If not for this gun we would be speaking British, paying a lot more taxes and have a king,” Hawk said.

Beckwith said she plans to organize more rallies to protest gun control efforts. The Maine Legislature is due to take up dozens of gun-control and gun- rights measures later this session.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

[email protected]

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