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Gun rights rally calls for civil conversation

  • Demonstrators Keith and Rachel Gammell gather with those in support of the Second Amendment and legal gun ownership Saturday morning on the Greenfield Common, on April 7, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Demonstrators gather in support of the Second Amendment and legal gun ownership Saturday on the Greenfield Common. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Demonstrators gather in support of the Second Amendment and legal gun ownership Saturday morning on the Greenfield Common, on April 7, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Jaxon Rollins demonstrates on the Greenfield Common with those in support of the Second Amendment and legal gun ownership Saturday. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Lori-lee Adams demonstrates on the Greefield Common with those in support of the Second Amendment and legal gun ownership Saturday morning, on April 7, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Alison Rollins, from right, demonstrates with her children Linley, Dabney, and Greyson, in support of the Second Amendment and legal gun ownership Saturday morning on the Greenfield Common, on April 7, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Demonstrators gather in support of the Second Amendment and legal gun ownership Saturday morning on the Greenfield Common, on April 7, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little



Recorder Staff
Monday, April 09, 2018

GREENFIELD — In the wake of calls for stricter gun control in America, many gun owners want people to know: “We are not the problem.”

Approximately 100 people gathered at the Greenfield Town Common Saturday to voice their support for the Second Amendment, which they affirm gives them the right to own firearms.

The “We are not the Problem” rally was attended by teachers, police officers, veterans and hunters, many of whom asserted that what they see as a civil right is under attack.

Holding signs with sayings like “Civil Rights Matter Too” and “Don’t tread on me,” the crowd waved to passing cars. Drivers often honked their horns or held their thumbs up out the windows in approval.

“It’s kind of like you give an inch, they take a mile,” said organizer Jonathan Rawls.

Rawls said the event was in part a response to recent rallies like March for Our Lives. That event took place in cities across the country, including Greenfield, on Saturday, March 24, calling for legislation that puts restrictions on the sale of firearms.

While Rawls acknowledges the horror of recent school shootings — like the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in March that left 17 dead — he said legislation banning certain types of weapons could be counterproductive, and could create the chain reaction of putting more and more restrictions on guns.

“There have been some things that weren’t regulated before but are regulated now, but the real question is where do you draw the line as far as government regulation in your day-to-day lives,” Rawls said.

Rawls was careful to point out that he, like many gun owners, is not against all measures of gun control, and that respectful dialogue, rather than shouting, will help people come to agreements on how to reduce gun violence in the U.S.

“Earlier, we had a teacher that came and said, ‘I’m a teacher, let’s talk,’ and held a sign that said ‘no shouting,’” Rawls said.

“We found common ground. We both want national background checks and she agreed we should have armed resource officers at schools,” he added.

Rawls said people “from all walks of life” should feel strongly about the right to self-defense.

Lori-lee Adams, who is a teacher in Springfield, came to express that she feels safer being armed, rather than waiting for a police response if a gunman were to start shooting innocent people.

“I have a license to carry and it’s a shame I can’t even have it in my car because it’s a school,” Adams said. “In the inner city of Springfield, we have regular shootings and I have no defense. It’s a shame that I have to have someone walk me to my car.”

She also added that while having guns in schools may seem counterintuitive, it could also save lives or deter unstable people from targeting schools.

“How many people do you see going and carrying out a mass shooting at a bank?” Adams asked. “Schools have signs that say, ‘no-gun zone.’ It’s like saying, ‘We’re harmless, come get us.’”

Leyden Chief of Police Daniel Galvis attended the rally off-duty, and agreed that civilians should be armed for the purpose of self-defense.

“I support the Second Amendment. I encourage people to get their firearms,” Galvis said. “In our town, my officers are out there alone. If they got in a jam, I would always hope a citizen could come to their defense.”

Galvis also defended ownership of the AR-15 rifle, which many have called for banning due to its usage in many high-casualty shootings.

He also added that the “AR” in AR-15 stands for “ArmaLite rifle” in reference to the company that designed it, not “assault rifle” as some may believe, and that the AR-15 owned by civilians is not a military-grade weapon.

“The AR-15 has been around for 50 years,” Galvis said. “The gun never changed. The society changed.”