Gun rights advocates gathered around the nation Saturday in a series of pro-Second Amendment rallies. In Maine, hundreds demonstrated at the plaza between the State House and the Burton M. Cross State Office Building in Augusta.
“We’ve been silent about the protests going on before," said Dave Gulya, one of the organizers of the Maine rally. "We figured it was important for us to get out, and show that we have our numbers as well, and that our message is important, and that we want to stand up for our constitutional rights and our Second Amendment rights.”
Gulya said the rally was planned in part to show that gun owners are mostly law-abiding people and to make the voices of gun rights advocates heard, at a time when they may be feeling especially defensive.
“We can work together. We want to get some common sense solutions to these gun violence problems, and we want to show the victims of the gun violence that we support them as well,” Gulya said.
Protester Jane Roverge said she was worried further gun control would infringe on her rights.
“I’m here to protect my Second Amendment rights, because I believe that once they take the Second Aamendment, the first is right behind,” she said.
The event was organized, in part, as a response to recent, more urgent calls for stricter gun control laws. The February 14 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla. inspired gun violence protests and school walkouts across the country, and has many citizens and politicians pushing for or against stricter gun control laws.
In Maine specifically, lawmakers are considering ‘red flag’ laws, which would place restrictions on individuals a judge deems to be a danger to themselves or others.
Some gun rights advocates, though, say that tighter gun restrictions would make schools, and the public, less safe.
“My son goes to school in a school where all they can do is lock the doors right now,” Gulya said. “They don’t have a school resource officer, the teachers aren’t armed, obviously. They’re in a gun free zone.”
Many in the crowd echoed this sentiment. Several protesters called for arming school staff and eliminating gun-free zones, which they argue hinder only law-abiding citizens.
“We see a lot of ‘feel good legislation’ that doesn’t seem to get to the core of what they call an epidemic of gun violence,” said protestor Lorne Chattley. “It’s a big jump on gun control, but no real base for fixing the actual issues.”
Several of this year's Republican candidates for governor and Congress also spoke at the rally. Gubernatorial candidates Mary Mayhew from South China, Garrett Mason from Lisbon Falls, and Gorham spoke. Sen. Eric Brakey, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate and Mark Holbrook, a Republican running for the House of Representatives, also spoke in support of the ralliers.
This story was originally published April 14, 2018 at 6:37 p.m. ET.