A small, adamant counter-protest at March for Our Lives

A small, adamant counter-protest at March for Our Lives

About 20 Second Amendment advocates gathered outside of the Trump International Hotel to counter 800,000 voices on the other side of the gun-control debate.
Published: March 25, 2018 | Updated: April 23rd, 2018 at 10:59 am
counter-protest
Counter-demonstrator Joe Caladona, 30, stands outside Trump International Hotel at 9 a.m., when the March for Our Guns rally was scheduled to begin.

WASHINGTON — Despite FOX News 5’s claim to expect 1,000 people and remarks from National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch, the few counter-protestors were met by neither Loesch nor hundreds of like-minded gun rights advocates. Instead, they found a nearly empty sidewalk outside Trump International Hotel.

Counter-demonstrators trickled in as 9 a.m. passed and turned into 9:30. Some held up signs that read, “March for Our Guns,” a none-too-subtle jab at the March for Our Lives, the day’s main political event that drew an estimated 800,000 people to Washington in response to school shootings and gun violence.

According to the March for Our Lives website, the group’s agenda is to “bring timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country.” But as passionate as these young activists are, their fervor is matched by defenders of the Second Amendment.

 

The first of about 20 counter-protesters, Joe Caladona, 30, arrived at the Trump International alone and avoided eye contact with March for Our Lives participants. He stood along Pennsylvania Avenue clutching a handmade Second Amendment sign. He was clear in his position.

“I believe that gun rights are more important than feelings,” he said.

“I feel this is just an emotional reaction to something, while it is tragic and terrible, the history of gun control has been to disenfranchise my party, to take away the rights of people that are not supported by society,” Caladona said.

James Jiang, 28, and his partner, Maddy Davis, 26, were the next two counter-protesters to arrive at the outer barricade of Trump International. Neither had a sign, but Jiang asserted his views with head-to-toe NRA attire.

“Primarily, we’re here in opposition to March for Our Lives and everything they’re in support of, all these policies that they support… a maximum capacity on magazines, an assault-weapons ban.

“I’m just a true believer and supporter of the Second Amendment,” Jiang said.

Jiang and Davis agreed that schools would be safer if more professionals had guns.

“I do support armed police officers or armed security in schools,” Davis said. “In a situation, though, where the officers can’t help, either they’re scared or incapacitated — if teachers had guns on them and were able to protect the students, the active shooter wouldn’t make it to the classrooms.”

 

Caladona was less sure about guns in schools.

“Honestly, I’m not necessarily sure I’m for the armed security guards in school, but I’m also definitely not sure about taking away people’s rights,” Caladona said.

Today’s counter-protest could be the start of a bigger, more inclusive conversation, he said.

“If I could spread a little knowledge around to the opposition, I would be willing to have that civil debate.

“Obviously, this needs to come to an end.”

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is a contributor to The NewsHouse at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.