Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 4, 2013

Gun shop owners plan March 16 Beckley rally

By MANNIX PORTERFIELD
for the Daily Telegraph

BECKLEY — God, guns and guts are rapidly vanishing from the American scene in the minds of many, an erosion that is prompting a rally this month in Beckley to fire up a fervor for all three.

Organizing the March 16 event at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center are Ron and Diana Wood, owners of Flat Top Arms.

The idea came from Diana’s son, Tim Cook, a senior master sergeant in the Air Force, the recipient of a Bronze Star for heroism in Afghanistan.

Diana says the rally will focus on what she perceives as an erosion of religious liberties, the efforts to emasculate the Second Amendment, and the pro-life movement.

“More is going down the tube than guns,” she said.

“We’ve already lost of things already, like prayer in schools, the manger scenes on courthouse lawns. They’re taking our freedoms one at a time. We need to stand up for the America that we were given.”

No admission will be charged for the 2 p.m. event, which will include a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, now locked in a dogfight on Capitol Hill over proposed new firearm restrictions.

Diana said her son called to point out that similar rallies are being staged across the country and he felt one is needed in Beckley.

“We’re contacting all the churches in the area and inviting them,” she said. “Our religious freedoms are under attack. One of things they’d like to do is take away some things pastors are allowed to say in the pulpits that are in the word of God, because they consider that hate crimes.”

Next up, she predicted, would be a move in Congress to eliminate the right to protest in violation of the First Amendment to the federal Constitution.

“The country that I grew up in is gone,” she said. “The last thing we have is the right to protest.”

Wood said she is asking Friends of Coal to join the rally, since the coal industry is under siege from Washington, adding, “They’re after everybody that works in a coal mine.”

Cook’s sister, Sherry Wade, also of Beckley, said the organizers are confident that Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., will address the rally.

Wade echoed similar concerns about religious freedoms.

“For the Christian faith, if we don’t do something about that and take a stand, as time continues to pass, we won’t be able to speak about Christ or our faith in public,” she said.

Wade said the rally sought by her brother ties in with his military career, which hit the 21-year mark this past week.

“He’s fighting for freedom in another country,” she said. “We are fighting for our freedoms here. It’s not a physical battle. It’s more of a political battle here.”

— E-mail:

mannix@register-herald.com