The latest in a series of gun rights rallies took place Thursday outside Legislative Hall in Dover where supporters of the 2nd Amendment urged lawmakers to vote against a series of gun control proposals in Delaware.
(VIDEO: WDEL's Kevin Hayes)
The "Patriot Rally for the 2nd Amendment" coincided with the 243rd Anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, also known as the "shot heard round the world" after the British were defeated by colonial militias as they tried to confiscate their weapons.
"We just want to make sure that they know we're not going to back down on these gun bills," said Tracie Johnston, who organized the rally alongside her husband Paul.
Paul Johnston, a disabled veteran and retired correctional officer, said he and others are sick and tired of being ignored by lawmakers. "They don't want to hear anything. The answer is not banning guns, the answer is a well-armed citizen."
"They have mitigation grants for safe rooms across the country, along tornado alley," Tracie explained. "They're bullet proof rooms. Why can't they use that and bring it here to Delaware?"
In addition to coinciding with the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the rally also fell on the same day that Senate lawmakers were supposed to vote on a bill to raise the age to 21 for all rifle purchases, but the legislation was pulled from the agenda Wednesday evening.
"I came out to support the patriots for the protections of our 2nd Amendment rights," said Donyale Hall, a Dover-area small business owner and Republican who is running for the 17th District in the Delaware State Senate. "This is the second of such rallies in the last week that I've participated in."
While bills were introduced proposing age restrictions, banning bump stocks and even large capacity magazines, the legislation that has has gun rights activists up in arms the most is a bill to ban "assault-style weapons."
The bill's primary sponsor, State Senator Bryan Townsend said "military-style assault weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment."
“Military-style assault weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment," said Townsend. "They have limited or no practical use for hunting or home defense, yet they are the weapon of choice in mass shootings and pose additional risk to law enforcement. It’s irresponsible to make them available to the general public on-demand. We owe it to our students, our families, and our law enforcement to keep weapons of war where they belong: on the battlefield, not on store shelves."
Governor John Carney urged members of the Delaware General Assembly to act quickly to pass the legislation so he could sign it into law.
“It’s true that we need a national approach to confront the threat of gun violence. I believe President Trump and Congressional leaders should take action. But we cannot wait to do what’s right in Delaware," said Governor Carney. "This is important legislation that will make our state safer – and I urge members of the General Assembly in both parties to act quickly and send this bill to my desk as soon as possible."
Jeff Hague, president of the Delaware State Sportsmen's Association (DSSA), argued the bill is unconstitutional and described it as a "smokescreen."
"Yes, it's constitutionally questionable and I don't believe it's constitutional," Hague said. "This so-called assault weapons ban proposed by Governor Carney is nothing more than, in my opinion, a smokescreen to cover up the fact that the democrats, for the most part, have never done anything other than talk about school safety. If you look at all of this rhetoric going on right now, there's been no money expanded in Delaware to harden schools to make them safer, to hire school resource officers or constables."
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