Advocates For Gun Reform, Others For Gun Rights Rally At Dallas City Hall
Dallas City Hall Plaza had plenty of foot traffic Saturday, first from students and gun reform advocates in the morning — and later from counter-protesters in the early afternoon.
Both demonstrations were planned in light of the National Rifle Association's annual meeting, held across the street at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
In the morning, students along with members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety gathered for "Rally 4 Reform," an event organized by StudentsMarch.org.
There were some familiar refrains at the rally — that the protesters in attendance are anti-gun violence, not anti-gun, that common sense can lead to common ground and that 97 percent of the American people support universal background checks.
Midlothian High School sophomore Lizzie Simpson is part of that 97 percent. She said she’s scared every day of going to school and it being the last time she sees her parents or her best friend.
“There needs to be at least a beginning point where we as students, as parents, as church leaders, as people of the United States come out and say, ‘Enough is enough, something needs to be done,’ and I think that starts with universal background checks."
In between speakers, a wall-sized artwork took shape. The artist was Manuel Oliver. His son, Joaquin, was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February. The finished product was a tapestry with a student surrounded by a target, the NRA's Dana Loesch as a clown and President Donald Trump as ringmaster. Oliver's final gesture was to pierce small, stenciled stick figures with a hammer.
Counter-protest follows the rally
As the Rally 4 Reform wound down, gun rights activists from groups like Open Carry Texas and the Proud Boys gathered for their own demonstration at City Hall.
"We're here to use our First Amendment right to protect our Second Amendment right, and voice our opinion and show that we're not exactly the crazy people that society makes out gun owners to be," said 16-year-old Emily Defosse.
She was there with her sister and dad, Milferd Defosse. He thinks there are plenty of gun regulations already on the books.
"If you take away from the law-abiding citizens, who's going to protect against the criminals? And if somebody breaks into my house, for me to protect my family? My gun works faster than 9-1-1," he said.
It was a call to arms for one side in this Saturday's demonstrations — a red flag for the other.
More scenes from Rally 4 Reform
Deanna Hollis, Rabbi Nany Kasten, Reverend Rachel Bachman (pictured below) at a protest and prayer vigil outside the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.— Weekend Edition (@NPRWeekend) May 5, 2018
"We're here to be a counter-voice to the NRA and to call for change," Holis tells reporter @BrianMannADK pic.twitter.com/6E5zU948OD
Note: The NRA has provided financial support to KERA.