Gun-rights supporters rallied at state capitals across the country over the weekend. In Atlanta, about 200 people showed up to demonstrate at the Gold Dome.
The National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans organized the protests in response to last month’s “March for Our Lives” rallies sparked by the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Tina Haney, a school bus driver, mother and grandmother, said she used to be petrified of guns. That changed a few years ago, she said.
“The apartment behind my home was broken into, and three people were murdered less than 50 feet from my door,” Haney said. “At that point, I started realizing why my husband had a gun in the house and how much safer I feel with it.”
That idea — that guns make people safer — was a focus of the demonstration. Some protesters, like John West, said people on both sides of the issue want the same thing: safe schools. They just disagree on how to get there, he said.
“I don’t think anybody across the aisle thinks that they want kids to be unsafe in school,” West said. “But, if we can pay the money to have armed guards to protect our politicians, our children are our future. They need to have the same value put on their life.”
West, and other demonstrators, said schools should hire trained officers to protect students. Gun-control advocates have argued for tougher laws that would restrict access to firearms, especially assault rifles.
But several protesters said restricting gun rights would be a “slippery slope,” and could lead to restricting other rights. Some, like Dallin Rivera, said enacting tougher laws wouldn’t decrease gun violence.
“You can’t legislate morality,” Rivera said. “You can make all the laws you want, and bad people are still going to do bad things.”