The group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America held a rally on the courthouse lawn in Missoula Sunday to commemorate the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting and advocate for stronger gun laws. They were joined by about a dozen open-carry advocates – some with rifles slung over their shoulders – showing support for the second amendment, and self defense via firearms.
Missoula Mayor John Engen was one of the speakers to address the rally.
“Folks in the back here who are packing heat, they get to do that because that’s their right and that’s okay. But we also get to talk about folks who shouldn’t probably be carrying firearms or have access to them because they are violent offenders, they are criminals or they are mentally ill. And all we are asking for is an opportunity to have a conversation about whether we as a community, as a state, as a country, want to end gun violence, or at least do our small part to prevent it.”
Speaking for Moms Demand Action, Heidi Kendall lamented recent mass shootings and told the crowd that more needs to be done to curb gun violence in America.
"We're showing that thoughts and prayers are important, they're very important, but they're not enough. We're taking action by walking and talking and calling and emailing our senators and our congressmen so they know we mean it. We need them to vote for better gun laws to protect our children and to make our families and communities safer."
But not everyone at the rally was on-board with the message of Moms Demand Action. Rick Stierstorfer was there dressed in camouflage, carrying a rifle slung over his shoulder.
"We're out here to demonstrate that, A: our right to bear arms is an inalienable right, that proper self defense is the only method for preventing crime, that criminals don't listen to gun-free zones – and you know really if we have to, neither will we. But that's probably not the case for everybody, I'm a little bit extreme."
About 50 people were at the Missoula rally, one of many planned around the country today. Many at the rally wore orange to show their support for Moms Demand Action, and carried signs reading “We can end gun violence,” or showing statistics about gun violence. After the speakers finished, the crowd lit candles and paraded around the block.