Gun rights supporters gathered at state capitols across the U.S. on Saturday to push back against efforts to pass stricter gun-control laws that they fear threaten their constitutional right to bear arms.
From Delaware to Wyoming, hundreds gathered at peaceful protests to listen to speakers who warned that any restrictions on gun ownership or use eventually could lead to a ban on gun ownership, which is guaranteed under the Second Amendment.
“If you have a building and you take a brick out every so often, after a while you’re not going to have a building,” said Westley Williams, who carried an AR-15 rifle as he joined about 100 people braving blustery weather in Cheyenne, Wyoming, for a pro-gun-rights rally in front of the state supreme court building.
Dave Gulya, one of the organizers of a rally in Augusta, Maine, said about 800 people showed up at the statehouse — a gun-free zone — to make the point that “we are law-abiding.”
Saturday’s protests were planned in dozens of state capitols less than three weeks after hundreds of thousands marched in Washington, New York and elsewhere to demand tougher gun laws after the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17. Organizers of those protests demanded a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and called for universal background checks on potential gun owners.
In Salem, about 300 people gathered at the World War II Memorial in Willson Park on the west side of the Oregon Capitol on Saturday.
They rallied to support the Second Amendment and oppose a potential state ballot measure, Initiative Petition 43, that would require registration for currently owned semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines and would ban their future sales.
Good Guys With Guns (Oregon) recently founded by Kevin Conzo, organized the Salem event. Conzo said he admires the spirit of the Parkland students who organized the March for Our Lives but disagrees with their solutions to the issue of mass shootings.
“The only ones who obey the laws are the good guys”, said Conzo at the rally. “Creating more laws with law restrictions is hindering our natural rights as human beings. If the sword is gone, I guarantee that the pen is next.”
The Salem version of the national March for Science also was being held Saturday at the Capitol. There was a large police presence but no reported problems, and when the March for Science participants marched past the Second Amendment rally, the speakers stopped their speeches and cheered for the science teachers.
The National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans coordinated the timing of the nationwide events at all 50 state capitols on Saturday.