Buddy Watson, a former prison guard, carried a .40-caliber pistol. He said he had reread the Constitution before coming here from Bentonville, Ark., to make sure he didn't violate anybody's rights.
"We have been threatened, so I am carrying a gun," he said. "I have no intention of having to use it."
Gilchrist said the Minutemen had been threatened by MS-13, a Central American street gang.
Bill Davis, 66, who kills coyotes for a living, worried about the number of guns he saw.
"The ACLU is praying ... that someone gets wacky out here," the Minuteman volunteer said. "They hope some loose cannon lets the air out of somebody. And I see people walking around here with guns strapped on when there is no need for it."
Davis expects to be leading an eight-person patrol in the desert in the days ahead, yet he has some trepidation.
He spends every day tracking animals in the barren landscape here. He routinely comes across illegal immigrants and calls in the Border Patrol.
"I go out every day of the year, but some of these guys are businessmen," he said. "They shouldn't be carrying a box of rocks, let alone a gun."