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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.

Listen to the KERA radio story.

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 Boysgathered 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

"We're here to be a counter-voice to the NRA and to call for change," Holis tells reporter @BrianMannADK pic.twitter.com/6E5zU948OD— Weekend Edition (@NPRWeekend) May 5, 2018

Note: The NRA has provided financial support to KERA. 

Copyright 2020 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Counter-protesters from groups like Open Carry Texas and the Proud Boys also gathered outside Dallas City Hall Saturday afternoon where Rally 4 Reform was held. Members say they are here to protect their Second Amendment rights.
Courtney Collins / KERA News
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KERA News
Counter-protesters from groups like Open Carry Texas and the Proud Boys also gathered outside Dallas City Hall Saturday afternoon where Rally 4 Reform was held. Members say they are here to protect their Second Amendment rights.

Manuel Oliver, who's son was killed in the Parkland shooting attended the rally Saturday and made an artwork on site.
Courtney Collins / KERA News
/
KERA News
Manuel Oliver, who's son was killed in the Parkland shooting attended the rally Saturday and made an artwork on site.

Molly Evans is the Assistant Producer of Digital News at KERA. She writes, edits and curates news content on KERANews.org. She also maintains the Twitter feed for KERA News. Molly previously served as Digital Coordinator, maintaining KERA’s websites and various digital platforms as well as designing graphics, participating in digital projects and site builds and offering technical assistance to the staff. She has worked at KERA since January 2015. Before KERA, Molly interned with This Land Press in Tulsa, TulsaPeople magazine World Literature Today in Norman and the Oklahoma Gazette in Oklahoma City, where she also freelanced. She also wrote and edited for The Oklahoma Daily, the award-winning student newspaper at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Molly graduated from OU with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in Spanish in December 2014. She was awarded Outstanding Senior in Journalism from the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Molly is a native of Tulsa, Okla.
Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.