Gun rights advocates plan to march into Washington, D.C., on July 3 armed with Nerf and water guns in a symbolic show of support for the Second Amendment. The event is doubling as a charity drive for Toys for Tots.
Organized in large part through social media and scheduled in response to a previously planned gun rally that was cancelled in May, the event's leader says it's time to demonstrate that gun ownership isn't just for old white men – even if it's a toy.
"The idea is that libertarians believe in responsible gun ownership and private charity," organizer Austin Petersen told U.S. News. Petersen said he also wants "to show people that they shouldn't be afraid of guns and that it's OK for kids to play with fake guns."
Petersen said he expects at least 100 people to show up, but more are expressing interest.
"There are rumors of people busing in, so it might get out of hand," he said.
Attendees will gather near the Arlington Cemetery Metro stop around 9 a.m. Wednesday, where National Park Service personnel will inspect realistic-looking fake guns. The crowd will then march over Arlington Memorial Bridge toward the National Mall.
"The rangers asked originally that we only have weapons that appear to be fake ... but it is legal to carry realistic-looking fake guns ... and the officers did allow us to," he said.
Around 10:30 a.m. the march will culminate in a rally near the foot of the Washington Monument, where a check for over $1,000 along with donated toys will be presented to Toys for Tots, which doesn't accept realistic-looking fake guns.
Shortly after, a large "Braveheart-style" water-gun fight will take place. Organizers were given permission to park a 160-gallon water tank near the battleground.
Children who attend will then compete to see who is most capable of nibbling a pop tart into the shape of a gun – a contest designed to ridicule the school suspension of a 7-year-old Maryland student.
As of Monday afternoon, more than 250 people indicated on Facebook that they would attend. A similar number responded that they might.
Petersen, who runs the blog Libertarian Republic, said he organized the event with like-minded and level-headed friends, including members of the group Ladies of Liberty Alliance.
"Participants are strongly urged NOT to point guns at officers or squirt them," warns a note posted to the march's Facebook event. "They are acting as our security and we should treat them with respect. This is also important because it is possible that a lot of anti-gun social democrats are looking for any opportunity to paint us in a bad light."
Sgt. Paul Brooks, a spokesman for the U.S. Park Police, did not respond to a request for comment about the event.
In a June press release posted to his website, Petersen said the event was devised after another gun rights march, originally scheduled for July 4, was cancelled by talk show host Adam Kokesh, who had urged gun rights advocates to march through the city brandishing real firearms. Kokesh has no affiliation with Wednesday's events.
Watch: Promotional video for the march: