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Second Amendment supporters gather at Capitol to speak out against gun control

State Journal Register

Sunday, April 15, 2018  |  Article  |  Maximilian Kwiatkowski

Guns and Gun Control, FOID, Concealed Carry (46)

Surrounded by yellow Gadsden flags and different designs of the American flag, about 100 Second Amendment advocates from various groups gathered at the Illinois Capitol for a rally during a rainy afternoon Saturday.

“They say the Second Amendment is in decline. Do you think it’s in decline?” asked Cory Proctor, a representative of the National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans, the group that organized the Springfield rally and others at dozens of state capitols on Saturday. “We need to show them we will not give up our rights. ... We need to show everyone we are normal people protecting our rights, not the right-wing radicals they make us out to be.”

The event was an open mike for gun owners to speak out against regulations on firearm ownership, particularly several bills under discussion in the Illinois General Assembly.

The bills include stricter licensing on gun stores, a ban on bump stocks, limiting the capacity of magazines and clips and restricting ownership of semi-automatic rifles to age 21.

Many of the bills were introduced in reaction to the February mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, school, where 17 people were killed.

“It’s ridiculous what they do at them shootings, but none of us should suffer for it,” said Proctor. “I got a little daughter. I’m going to teach her at a young age ... she’s not going to go out and be crazy and shoot people.”

Tom Shafer of Springfield spoke the most during the rally, recalling his long family history of gun ownership but also railing against regulation of firearm ownership.

“They have all these gun control laws. Where have they worked to reduce crime?” he said. “That is simplest question I keep asking them, and (gun control activists) stare at their feet ... because they don’t have an answer.”

Shafer spoke out against House Bill 1664, which would allow police to seize firearms from individuals if there is credible information to assume someone “presents a clear and present danger” to themselves or others. It would also provide a telephone hotline to inform the police if someone could be dangerous with a gun.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I thought we were living in America,” he said. “Any lawmaker who would propose such a law is a communist and a Nazi in his actions, and we will never sit still for it.”

Saturday’s protests at state capitols happened three weeks after marchers in 800 locations around the world, including Springfield, demanded tougher gun laws after the Parkland shooting. Organizers of those “March For Our Lives” protests demanded a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and called for universal background checks on potential gun owners.

Many students last month also participated in school walkouts to signal support for stricter gun control and to pay tribute to the Florida victims.

Kaleb Huddleston, a student at Lanphier High School, said he felt the students who have been rallying for gun control aren’t representative of his generation.

“It’s not real,” he said. “My generation, born after 2000, is the most conservative and the most pro-amendment since World War II.”

Among those in attendance in Springfield Saturday were individuals from the the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters, whose members pledge to defend the U.S. Constitution. The latter group’s name refers to the belief that just 3 percent of colonists rose up to fight the British. Such groups lack the following of more mainstream Second Amendment advocates such as the National Rifle Association.

Contact Maximilian Kwiatkowski: 788-1530, mkwiatkowski@sj-r.com, twitter.com/MSFKwiat. The Associated Press contributed to this story.