Approximately 300 people gathered at the Oregon World War II Memorial near the Oregon State Capitol for a pro-second amendment rally Saturday morning, as part of a nationwide effort organized by The National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans.
The rally comes just weeks after the nationwide March for Our Lives protest, where students, teachers and community members took to the streets demanding stricter gun laws to combat gun violence. More than 3,000 people attended the Salem event on March 24.
“We join those of you who have marched and cried out for answers and solutions, we all want the same thing: no one to die at the hands of a bad person.” Kevin Conzo, the founder of Good Guys With Guns, Oregon, told the crowd.
Conzo was the first speaker of the day, and said the purpose of their grassroots organization is simple: "Good guys with guns stop the bad ones."
The speeches that followed Conzo had similar messages — that the second amendment must be protected, specifically in regards to Oregon Initiative Petition 43, a call for stricter enforcement of current laws.
Speakers also called for more people to register and vote.
"(Initiative Petition 43) is an attack on law-abiding gun owners that have a right to decide what is best for the protection of themselves, their families and their property,” Kevin McIntosh, of Portland, said during his speech.
McIntosh was referring to IP-43, the "proposal to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in Oregon." He said that bans on certain types of guns or accessories are simply ways "to tear down our rights."
Laws are created to combat issues, and the public is expected to follow them. The problem with creating more laws, McIntosh said, is that laws only work if they are properly enforced.
"We do not need more laws that chip away at our second amendment rights; we do need effective enforcement of laws that already exist," he said.
McIntosh urged those in attendance, and citizens of Oregon in general, to inform themselves and others on issues like IP-43 so that they will be educated voters.
Speakers like Marvin J. Cosby, of Springfield, addressed the crowd with a similar call to action: register to vote and to show up in November, which is the earliest the measure could make it to the ballot. More than 80,000 signatures are needed for it to qualify, plus it likely could face challenges in court.
Cosby, a precinct committee person for Lane County, chastised the crowd, calling out those who are passive and "don't show up to protect their rights."
He encouraged the crowd to get involved in any way they can by becoming precinct committee persons for their counties, calling their representatives and voting in the upcoming election.
"Our constitutional rights are ours, they were given to us by our founding fathers, but they have to be protected and we need voices to protect them,” he said.