With temperatures hovering just above freezing, more than 100 people braved the cold to attend a rally in support of gun ownership rights at McKenzie Park in Hermiston.
Organizer Jerry Hennings, of Hermiston, said he started organizing the rally on Monday, Jan. 14 and was surprised and pleased to see the number of people who turned out to support gun ownership rights.
The rally started with a pledge of allegiance to a large American flag being carried on a pole by Bill Quick of Hermiston, and was followed by a moment of silence for victims of violence.
Hennings, who is a National Rifle Association firearms instructor, read letters in support of the rally from U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon, and state Rep. Greg Smith, and said other lawmakers were contacted about the rally but he didnt get responses.
Walden wrote, Every two years I raise my hand as your representative and swear to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution. Thats an oath I take seriously. The Second Amendment to the Constitution establishes a citizens right to keep and bear arms and I will always be a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.
In his letter, state Rep. Greg Smith apologized for not being able to make the rally, but I want you to know that I remain resolute in my support of our rights to gun ownership. As are all Americans, we were shocked and saddened by the senseless tragedies in Connecticut and here in Oregon. We mourn the loss of innocent lives and we pray for the healing of their loved ones. Its unfortunate that some are using these tragedies to weaken, and in some cases take away, our rights under the Second Amendment of the United State Constitution.
Hennings said those who would take away the rights given to American under the Second Amendment love to cite statistics about how many live are lost each day, month and year to gun violence.
But in the debate over what to do about gun violence, it is never mentioned that some 2 million incidents occur in this country each year in which a gun owner used their firearm to protect themselves or someone else, Hennings said. Thats about one such incident in this country every 13 seconds.
Nick Goit, a local firearms dealer said, One of the things I would ask all in attendance to do is to contact their representatives and let them know how important the Second Amendment rights are to them.
They need to know there are people in their district who are willing to stand up and be counted over the gun ownership issue, said Goit, owner of Eastern Oregon Tactical LLC, of Hermiston.
But both Hennings and Goit were just warm-up acts for Rob Lovett, of Hermiston.
Guns are not our problem, said Lovett, they are merely an instrument of our freedom as Americans.
Americans have had guns from the forming of the country, that has not changed, Lovett said rousing the crowd. What has changed is our culture and out education system who want to take away our culture as God-given Americans the right to bear arms.
Lovett recited the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and then broke down the meaning of each word and phrase of the amendment to a loud response of agreement from the audience.
After an hour, those attending the rally were asked once again to contact their elected representatives and let them know they are supporters of the Second Amendment.