By Alex Lippa
---- — PLAISTOW — An organization that pledges to defend the Constitution is not typically who uses the meeting room at the public library.
But, having met all library policies, the New Hampshire Oath Keepers will hold at meeting there tonight.
“As long as they meet the criteria of being nonprofit, free and open to the public, we allow them to be here,” said Diane Arrato Kavrish, Plaistow Public Library director.
The Oath Keepers will be hosting their first meeting in the area. Members of the group have all taken pledges to preserve, protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. The group is primarily comprised of armed forces and law enforcement officials.
Shem Kellogg of Plaistow said the group is primarily focusing protecting their right to carry guns.
“I don’t think that individual rights are necessary policy decisions,” Kellogg said. “The right to bear arms is a natural right and I don’t think that rights can be voted away.”
Kellogg organized the meeting and said it will serve as a general introduction to the Oath Keepers’ beliefs.
“We are a group of people who take their oath to the Constitution seriously,” he said. “We try to reach out to other similar folks to spread that message.”
Lara Croft, administrative assistant at the library, said the library often sees a diverse number of groups meeting at the library.
“We get everyone from the Plaistow Republicans to Girl Scouts to knitting groups,” Croft said. “We don’t discriminate against any nonprofit groups.”
Bryan Doe, president of the Massachusetts Oath Keepers, has been with Oath Keepers since its inception in 2006. He speaks at many meetings around Massachusetts and hopes to help spread the word into New Hampshire.
“This isn’t just about gaining membership,” Doe said. “It’s a community of like-minded people who can get together, discuss and meet about these issues. We try to specifically reach, teach, and inspire active law enforcement veterans. These people swore an oath to the Constitution, so we just want to teach people about the oath they made.”
Doe said the group was formed after members witnessed many people having their guns taken away by law enforcement officials in the looting which followed Hurricane Katrina.
“This is not just about saying no to an order,” Doe said. “That’s not what happened during Katrina. The main premise is if an order is deemed unlawful, it’s our duty to stand down.”
The group has received more attention in recent weeks, since President Obama announced his proposal to restrict gun laws.
“That has given us more clout,” Doe said. “The average American may have came across our name a little bit more recently.”
As a result, the Oath Keepers have been gaining support and are also actively trying to influence state and federal gun laws..
“Not just conservatives are with us, we have influenced liberals as well,” Doe said. “We’ve had county sheriffs and lawmakers, who are Oath Keepers, drafting legislation.”
Kellogg said 50 people have already said they were attending the meeting on Facebook. He planned to put fliers up at shooting ranges, police stations and gun shops. He made it clear that the meeting is open to anyone.
“If there is anyone who objects to anything, they are certainly welcome,” Kellogg said. “Dissenters are welcome as well.”
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. today at Plaistow Public Library, 85 Main St.