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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Rallies For Guns, Against Gun Violence Planned In Montana

High school students march in downtown Missoula February 21, 2018, after walking out of classes to call for stronger gun regulation.
Olga Kreimer
High school students march in downtown Missoula February 21, 2018, after walking out of classes to call for stronger gun regulation.

Montana gun rights advocates are organizing a rally in defense of the Second Amendment later this month in Helena. The "March For Our Guns" rally is planned for Saturday, March 24, on the steps of the state Capitol. That’s the same day "March For Our Lives" groups nationwide plan rallies to protest gun violence. 

Both organizations’ websites offer mission statements outlining their goals. Both statements start out identically structured, but they convey starkly different messages.

March For Our Lives: "Not one more. We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school."

March for Our Guns:  "Not one more. We cannot allow one more gun to be taken from our hands."

That organization’s founder, Brent Webber, warns on his website of leftist agendas that threaten Americans’ fundamental right to keep and bear arms.

Webber, with the pro-gun group, lays out several rules for his March 24 rally. For one, it is not an armed march; openly carrying firearms is not encouraged. Participants are also warned against aggressively confronting people on the opposite side of the gun debate.

Montana Public Radio has not yet been able to schedule an interview with Webber. 

Noah Whitehorn, a junior at Capitol High School, is part of Helena Youth Against Gun Violence, a teen group focused on gun education and safety that’s organizing the March For Our Lives event in Helena. Whitehorn says the gun debate, especially terms like “gun control,” can heighten reactions unnecessarily.

"We're not advocating for taking away the constitutional rights of any American. We're advocating for safety, the safety of our children, the safety of our brothers and sisters across the nation, the safety of people as a whole."

Other Montana organizers are planning marches in Billings and Bozeman on the same day.

Whitehorn says the movement against gun violence that gained momentum after last month’s shooting in Parkland, Florida, is significant.

"The generation, the group I represent, we're going to be voting in the next election, so it's important that our voices be heard now. They can either hear us now or hear us at the polls in 2020," Whitehorn says.

The March for Our Lives group says the nation’s schools are unsafe and demands Congress take up comprehensive legislation to address gun violence. Montana organizers are planning marches in Billings, Bozeman and Helena.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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