On July 4 a large contingency of armed individuals gathered in the Gettysburg National Military Park (GNMP), supposedly to prevent the burning of a U.S. flag and to protect the confederate monuments.
The presence of this armed group caused concern among many local residents, and on July 5 a new activist group was founded to address it. “Disarm the Dispute” has the goal of ensuring the protection of the town’s residents and learning more about any plans the National Park Service might have to prevent similar gatherings in the future.
“We have used the name as a way of uniting people with the same interests,” said Rebecca Muller, a founding member of the organization. “The hashtag helps us band together.”
“Disarm the Dispute is a group of Gettysburg residents and community members who experienced a wide range of emotions, but were particularly frustrated with the events of July 4, 2020,” Muller said.
Muller said the group would also like to “hold the park accountable for telling the whole story and diversifying their audience, so that our town and our history is inclusive.”
Disarm the Dispute held their first demonstration in the GNMP on Sunday. “We were able to hand out flyers to around seventy-five people,” said Muller. “I believe we were able to keep the conversation going by giving people a piece of paper that has next steps.”
Muller said the group was trying to make resources available to the community to continue what the organization has started. “We want to find a way to pass the torch to the whole community and to [then] slowly back away,” Muller said.
Disarm the Dispute “[does] not have a particular leader or a common form of organization,” said Muller. Instead six members run this small group. Muller said the group is not planning to become a nonprofit organization; they merely want the citizens and history of Gettysburg to stay protected.
Ideally, Disarm the Dispute would like the National Park to ban firearms completely. But they have been told the GNMP must follow the laws of the state, which allow people with a permit to carry and display firearms.
Muller said the group has met with Gettysburg National Military Park representatives including Superintendent Steven Sims and Acting Public Affairs Officer Jason Martz. Sims was, “very helpful in drawing the lines about what can’t be done, and very sympathetic,” said Muller.
But Muller also said Sims, “did not give a timeline or deadline about any changes. What are the next steps the National Park is taking and when will they be implemented?”
Muller hopes the group’s mission can “stay in the spotlight” to help better plan for the events that may potentially occur next July 4.