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Gun rights supporters: Bring your unloaded rifle to rallies

  • This Feb. 8, 2013 file photo shows pro-gun demonstrators at a rally outside the state Capitol in Salem, Ore. Organizers are encouraging gun rights supporters to bring unloaded weapons to rallies at state capitols across the U.S. this weekend of April 14, 2018, to counter a recent wave of student-led protests against gun violence. (AP Photo/Jonathan J. Cooper, File) Jonathan J. Cooper

  • FILE- This Jan. 9, 2013 file photo shows Craig Larson, right, of Fort Collins, Colo., and another protester who refused to identify himself waving signs during a pro-gun rally in a park across from the State Capitol in Denver. Organizers are encouraging gun rights supporters to bring unloaded weapons to rallies at state capitols across the U.S. this weekend of April 14, 2018, to counter a recent wave of student-led protests against gun violence. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File) David Zalubowski



Associated Press
Thursday, April 12, 2018

Organizers are encouraging gun rights supporters to bring unloaded rifles to rallies at state capitols across the U.S. this weekend, pushing back against a wave of student-led gun violence protests that some see as a threat to the Second Amendment.

A group called the National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans spread word of the gatherings on social media. Organizers have permits for rallies Saturday outside 45 statehouses, said David Clayton, of West Virginia, one of the coalition’s founders.

The rallies come less than three weeks after hundreds of thousands marched in Washington, New York and other U.S. cities to demand tougher gun laws after the February school shooting that killed 17 in Parkland, Florida. It’s unclear how many will show up — turnout predictions of national organizers are vastly higher than those of local planners.

Clayton said a new gun law in Florida and similar measures being considered in other states threaten the rights of law-abiding gun owners. He said those attending rallies are encouraged to carry rifles — unloaded, with no magazines inserted — in states where it’s legal.

“This is a very peaceful approach to a show of force,” Clayton said. “What that means is we’re not going to go there looking for a fight. We’re saying, ‘Look at all the people gathered here. We have a voice too.’”

Most U.S. states allow long guns to be carried openly in public spaces, though other legal restrictions may apply. In Maine, for example, the statehouse grounds are a gun-free zone.

The coalition describes itself as a collection of patriotic-based groups that “come from all walks of life, including Three Percent groups and local militias.”

The Three Percent movement vows to resist any government that infringes on the U.S. Constitution. Its name refers to the belief that just 3 percent of colonists rose up to fight the British.

Clayton leads a group called the Three Percent Republic. Such groups lack the following of more mainstream Second Amendment advocates such as the National Rifle Association.

An NRA spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Other gun rights organizations said they’ve played minor roles.

Gun Owners of America, one of the largest U.S. gun rights advocacy groups, plans to alert members but isn’t involved in organizing the rallies, said Erich Pratt, the group’s executive director.