If you were driving down Amboy Avenue Saturday morning, you might've come across a group of protesters, hoisting signs and waving flags, and wondered what they were about.
The casual protest was a coalition of patriotic and Constitutional groups, mostly there to commemorate April 15, the day tax returns are due to the Internal Revenue Service. They weren't there to fight against gun control bills floating around in Congress, members said, but proponents of tightening laws against guns and gun ownership in the wake of December's school shootings in Connecticut seemed to insist they were.
So explained Gary Charwin, a leader of the Tea Party of Middlesex County, who said he was in Woodbridge to stand up for Constitutional rights.
The Tea Party, one of the groups represented at the protest, wasn't there to protest gun control alone, although the Second Amendment is as important as the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights, he said.
"We were expressing our frustration at big, omnipotent government that strips citizens of their God-given rights," Charwin said. "The rally wasn't just about protesting gun control.
"It's about supporting the entire Constitution and individual freedom."
Gun control proponents, though, focused on one sign, "Legal Gun Owners Save Lives," Charwin said. There were a few catcalls as motorists drove past their set-up at the old Gulf station near Green Street.
Charwin wasn't sure if the pro-gun sign was what the yelling was about.
"People who are trained in the use of firearms protect their families. They do save lives," Charwin said. "Most people beeped their horns and gave us a thumbs' up sign.
"They liked what we were doing."
About 25 protesters were there at the height of the rally, Charwin said. One of them was Bob Henn of Old Bridge, a member of the pro-gun rights Second Amendment Society.
"I'm just a member. I'm not an officer," Henn stressed. "I was in Woodbridge to show support for the entire Constitution."
Although, as one might expect, Henn is completely opposed to current federal efforts at gun control.
He pointed to a recent PoliceOne survey of 15,000 law enforcement officers, the majority believe federal bans on 'assault' weapons would have no effect on violent crime. Almost 90 percent of those surveyed think that casualties caused by crazed shooters would would be decreased if armed citizens were present at the onset of an incident.
"The Second Amendment has nothing to do with guns. It has everything to do with protecting individuals from government tyranny," Henn said. "It's not about having a gun to do target practice, or having a gun to go hunting."
There will be more rallies through the state today, including one at the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth at 11 am. Another one is slated for 2 pm at the headquarters of the Asbury Park Press.
Charwin called the Woodbridge protest a success. "We get a bigger turnout in other parts of the state. Middlesex County is a tough nut to crack."