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New Hampshire Union Leader
18 hours, 58 minutes ago

MANCHESTER – Dave Ridley donned a Wookiee suit to drum up support for Republican Ron Paul in the New Hampshire primary.

Today, he plans to wear a Glock 9 mm pistol, holstered at his hip, to celebrate the right to openly carry a firearm in New Hampshire.

The public display -- sans the shaggy "Star Wars" costume -- is another political message he and a group of pistol-packing friends will offer as they bag litter along Central Street.

"It seems to resonate with people, and even if it doesn't resonate, it cleans up the street," Ridley said on his Central Street stoop, where the doormat says, "Come Back With a Warrant."

Ridley, 41, moved from Texas to New Hampshire in 2004 to participate in the Free State Project. The project announced in 2003 that it aims to recruit 20,000 liberty activists to relocate to New Hampshire and work for limited government and protection of constitutional rights.

Libertarians and liberty activists have long celebrated the New Hampshire Constitution, including Article 2-a, which reads, "All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property and the state."

Gun owners in New Hampshire need a license to carry a concealed firearm, per New Hampshire state statutes, Chapter 159.

When it comes to the Bill of Rights, Ridley said, you "use 'em or lose 'em." A videographer, Ridley captures his events and posts the clips on his Web site,

The "open carry litter pickup," similar to an event in Hampton Beach last week, is designed to be educational, according to Ridley. Picking up trash along the street appears to boost participation, he said. Unarmed people are also invited.

"It's a political statement, and it does send a message to criminals," he said, noting the litter pickup will be near the spot where Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs was shot and murdered Oct. 16, 2006.

The Central Street event today is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. Ridley said participants may cover as much as a half-mile or more. That depends upon participation. He said no one showed up the first time he tried something like this.

But while it is legal to openly carry a firearm, a longtime member of the New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee questioned whether advocates are creating a problem where one does not exist.

State Rep. David Welch, R-Kingston, added that some people get nervous around guns.

"I don't know why they need to send a message," said Welch, who has earned the respect of law enforcement and gun owners over his 11 terms in the House. "We've got the best gun laws in the country."

22,098 Posts
They're doing a good thing...folks who don't "do" guns will see that nice, civic-minded neighborly folks like/carry'll debunk the Bubba image...I like what they're up to!!!
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