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TJ Jerke, Forum News service, Published January 19 2013

North Dakotans rally in support of gun rights

BISMARCK – About 70 gun rights activists braved the strong winds and cold temperatures Saturday on the steps of the North Dakota Capitol building to protest new federal efforts to strengthen gun control laws.

Andre Palmier, of Fargo, organized the event in conjunction with Guns Across America, an online group that pledges to help educate America on the right to bear arms, according to its website. The organization rallied gun owners and activists at state capitols around the country Saturday – 20,388 people said they planned to attend a rally somewhere in the country, according to GAA’s Facebook page.

“We as people are standing against those that want to strip our rights,” Palmier said to an energized crowd. “We will not stand for any infringement on our Second Amendment rights.”

One after another, people took the microphone to tell their story and tell the crowd why they need to continue to stand up for their constitutional right to bear arms in response to gun restrictions proposed by President Barack Obama last week. Obama’s plan includes banning assault large ammunition clips as well as provide more thorough background checks when a gun is purchased, among other things.

Hope Carr, of Carrington, dressed in camouflage winter gear, told the crowd that more laws will not solve any problems.

She said lawmakers are not talking to medical experts, who she believes can help curb gun violence.

“A lot of discussions need to be had with educated and experienced people,” she said. “(Lawmakers) are not aware of it and are too pigheaded to admit their ignorance.”

Shanna Cotton, of Bis-marck, brought her 4-year-old son Randal McGarvey out in protest. She said he wanted to come, “because good men need guns to protects families and go hunting,” he told her. Cotton, who owns a handgun, has filed a protection order against someone and depends on her constitutional right to have the gun to feel more secure.

“Our rights are being endangered,” she said. “My grandfathers fought for those rights, which are part of our Constitution and our heritage.”

Marty Beard, of Bis-marck, brought his two daughters and nephew, who held the American flag as well as the Gadsden Flag, which is symbolic of the 13 colonies as they fought against British oppression.

“I’m sick of them shoving laws down our throats,” he said about the federal government.

Beard said he’s an avid hunter without a concealed weapons permit, but plans to get one soon, along with his wife. He said his daughters will have one as soon as they are old enough.

Palmier, who told the crowd he’s not a political activist, organized the event after seeing the Facebook page for Guns Across America urging local gun owners to rally Saturday.

He wasn’t sure anybody else would take up the effort.

“I thought, ‘If I don’t stand up, who will?’ ” he said.

He told the crowd that everyone mourned during the recent tragedies, referring to the 20 children and 6 educators that were killed in Connecticut a month ago, but asked, “What can we do?”

“The answers don’t lie in more gun control,” he said.

The North Dakota Legislative Assembly will discuss several gun-related bills throughout this session, with many set to have their first hearing Tuesday morning in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

House Bill 1183 has been proposed by Rep. Roscoe Streyle, R-Minot, and would forbid a state government entity, such as a county sheriff, from assisting a federal agency in the investigation, enforcement and prosecution of a federal firearms law that was not in effect as of January 1.

Other gun-related bills include:

• Senate Bill 2145, which would allow municipal court judges to carry a concealed weapon.

• House Bill 1283, which would allow a concealed weapons permit holder to carry a gun into a church with permission by the church’s leader.

• House Bill 1215, which would allow local school districts to create a policy that would determine if employees with concealed weapons permits can carry a gun while on school property.

• House Bill 1327, which would make the Bureau of Criminal Investigation conduct a statewide and nationwide criminal history record check to determine eligibility for a concealed weapons license.

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