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Gun rights advocates gather at Capitol

Steve Langlie, center, of Bismarck, holds a sign while listening to a speaker at the Americans for America rally on the steps of the state Capitol in Bismarck on Saturday, April 14. The rally of about 200 defenders of the Second Amendment gathered people from across the state to speak and support of gun rights. (Mike Mccleary / Bismarck Tribune) 1 / 2
Jeremiah Glosenger, left, of Minot, speaks at the Americans for America rally on the steps of the state Capitol in Bismarck on Saturday, April 14. (Mike Mccleary / Bismarck Tribune)2 / 2

BISMARCK — Flags waving, dogs barking and children running about marked the scene on the steps of North Dakota's Capitol building on Saturday, April 14.

Amid national calls for stricter gun control in the wake of school shootings, about 200 people gathered locally at the Americans for America rally, hoping to show there are those on the other side of the issue.

"I'd like people to know Second Amendment rights are important to many people," said Robert Gregoire, of Bismarck.

The rally mirrored similar events being held in every state capital to raise awareness and educate the public on the Second Amendment.

Cody Schuh, owner of Shooters Inc. gun shop in Bismarck, said he gave his time to the event to show support for his customers and their rights.

"I think there's a slanted view on what the population wants," he said. "This shows there is a counter side and argument."

Justis Amundson, of the state Young Republicans chapter and former president of Young Americans for Liberty at the University of Mary, told the crowd he gets frustrated when students of his generation protest in favor of gun control because he sees it as a push to violate the Constitution.

"We have to be louder," he said, encouraging other young Second Amendment supporters to speak up.

Leon Francis, of Fargo, made the trip to Bismarck for the rally, bringing along his 6-month old son, Elijah.

"That's why I stand for the the Second Amendment always," he said, pointing to his son under a blanket in his carriage.

For Francis, the right to bear arms is a way to protect himself and his family from criminals or government infringement.

"Our Second Amendment makes us equal," he said.

James Burch lives west of Mandan. His brother lives in town. He said his brother's home was burglarized and he's seen evidence of people trying to kick down the door of his own home to gain entry. Even if he had time to call the police, he doesn't think they could get there in time.

So events like Saturday's that raise awareness are important to Burch.

"I don't trust the government to protect me in the way I can protect my family," Patricia Easton, of Mandan, said, echoing Burch's sentiments.

Easton, who helped organize Saturday's event, is a concealed carry permit holder and said the event was meant to highlight and bring together responsible gun owners, such as herself.

"We're not the ones going out shooting up people, but they never speak about people like us," she said. "We are your average Americans."

Jeremiah Glosenger addressed the crowd to encourage meaningful conversation about gun rights. He advised attendees to be respectful and listen to others' opinions when making the argument against stricter gun control.

Glosenger was one of those, a native of Maryland who had little experience with guns. Both he and his wife, a native of southern California who initially opposed having a gun in their home, have been persuaded that Second Amendment rights are important.

"The battle of public opinion is the battle that we and our children must fight and win to maintain our freedom, so we need to become more effective in learning how to fight it," he said. "When we feel so passionately about something, like the fundamental right to self-defense, and we see others trying to take away those rights, it can be difficult to maintain feelings of love and respect during that discussion. However, we must do so if we hope to persuade that person."