About 50 pro-gun activists marched up and down a single city block in Los Angeles on Saturday, as part of a national event billed as the conservative alternative to the March for Our Lives, the gun control movement founded by survivors of the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Chanting “gun rights are human rights” and “freedom isn’t free!” the activists, many of them in their teens and early 20s, warned of the dangers of gun control laws and argued that older white men are not the only Americans who support pro-gun policies.
Several of the women there, including organizer Xena Amirani, 19, wore pink shirts emblazoned with the slogan: “Gun rights are women’s rights”.
Michele DeGroote, the march’s communications chair, who was also wearing one of the pink shirts said: “I’m only 15 now, but when I’m in college, I want to be able to know that I’m going to be safe and defend myself”.
Guns are an “equalizer between men and women” she said. “Biologically, men are stronger than us. A firearm can level that playing field.”
“Gun rights are minority rights,” said Osje Peña, 21, another march organizer, who grew up in Los Angeles and cited rapper Tupac Shakur’s support for gun rights. The iconic musician was shot dead at the age of 25.
When you think about the second amendment, which guarantees Americans’ gun rights, “what stands out?” Amirani asked the crowd during her speech. “Shall not be infringed!” the activists bellowed back.
The March 4 Our Rights, organized by Amirani, a college student from Malibu, California, had planned rallies in more than ten cities nationwide on Saturday, including Chicago and Washington, DC, where Dick Heller, the plaintiff in a landmark supreme court gun rights case, was slated to speak. Los Angeles, which Amirani had expected to draw the largest crowd, attracted about 100 people at its largest point.
Meanwhile, thousands of Chicago protesters shut down a major highway on Saturday to oppose gun violence and call for stronger gun laws.
The March for Our Lives to support gun control, which took place in March, attracted tens of thousands of people in Los Angeles and hundreds of thousands of people in Washington DC, according to local news reports. More than 800 rallies and other events took place across rest of the US and the world.
On Saturday, however, the gun rights marchers, who had gathered to protest in nearly 100-degree weather were not daunted by their smaller numbers. They were protesting, after all, in the heart of liberal Los Angeles. As one activist put it in an open mic session: “I thought I was going to be the only one here. It’s a good sign that I’m not.”
Amirani noted that the March for Our Lives gun control movement had been backed by millions of dollars in donations. The March 4 Our Rights had cost just $3,800 nationwide, she said.
Featured pro-gun speakers at the Los Angeles event included Will Witt, a conservative social media influencer; Kaya Jones, a former member of the Pussycat Dolls; and Amy Robbins, an NRA TV host, who founded a company that makes yoga pants and other athletic wear for women who want to carry guns.
An organizer thanked the National Rifle Association for raising awareness about the march. NRA TV, the gun rights group’s media outlet, had conducted multiple interviews with the organizers in advance of the event.
The news media “likes to use certain younger kids to speak for all of us,” said Alysha Monroe, a 22-year-old from Orange County who was carrying a poster that said “Trigger warning”.
Pro-gun young people, she said, have not been as outspoken as those who support gun control. She said she was challenging herself and other young conservatives to take more action to support their views. “You can’t stop a bad guy with a gun unless you’re a good guy with a gun,” she said.
The march up and down a single block had been planned in advance. There were other events staged that day in Los Angeles’ Pershing Square, including a “Salsa Festival”.
“We’re marching from the beginning of the block to the end of the block, that’s it,” Amirani said on Thursday. “It’s really hot,” she added.
This article provided by NewsEdge.