TTAG’s cameras were there this morning as about 250 anti-gun activists convened in the shadow of Dallas City Hall, across the street from the convention center where almost 80,000 NRA members looked over guns and gear. The Rally 4 Reform was ostensibly organized by StudentsMarch.org, but appears to also have had the backing of Michael Bloomberg’s Moms Demand Action as well.
The protest featured a line-up of speakers from various anti-gun groups. Between speakers, artist Manuel Oliver, whose son was one of the students murdered at Parkland, completed a large canvas set up behind the speakers.
But as always, the people-watching was the most entertaining part of the event.
The first speaker to take the stage was Azalea Leal advocacy director of StudentsMarch.org.
Leal’s was probably the lest militant message of the day, claiming that StudetnsMarch.org is a bipartisan effort to expose “extremism” heading into the election, with the goal of ending our “blind and deaf complacency” to affect change.
Next to be heard was Moms Demand Action’s Survivor Engagement Lead of the state of Texas, Amanda Johnson.
Johnson emphasized that she understands the gun culture, having gown up in a home with firearms. Her younger sister, who had battled depression used one to commit suicide in 1999. She said she didn’t blame the gun, which she called a hunk of metal that isn’t, in itself, evil.
But she believes that with two-thirds of the annual deaths by firearm being suicides, safe storage laws and concealed carry reciprocity will result in more guns being available to people who, without easy access to guns, might change their minds about using one to end their lives.
She touted Moms Demand Actions’ alleged success in “drowning out the NRA”‘s message and defeating permitless carry laws” (constitutional carry) “in almost every state where it’s come up for a vote. Perhaps she isn’t aware that if Oklahoma’s governor signs the bill currently on her desk, that will make 14 states with permitless carry.
She also counted “red flag laws” (extreme risk protection orders) among the Moms’ priorities, saying they “refuse to reason with unreasonable politicians” any more. They intend to work to replace them with “GunSense champions” so that her children won’t be part of “the second mass shooting generation.”
Some of the employees in Dallas city hall were apparently sympathetic to the anti-gun cause.
And some of the sign-toters may not have had all the facts.
Tommy Murray of the Newtown Action Alliance was next to address the crowd of about 250 people (and at least two dozen media members).
He recounted the day “his neighbor killed his classmate’s sibling” and decried the fact at since Newtown, “Congress has done absolutely nothing.” He called out Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Ted Cruz, John Cornyn and Greg Abbott by name for “traveling to the NRA because they only care about blood money.”
He demanded change to “the NRA’s guns to everyone everywhere agenda” and called on the crowd to “march to the polls and vote only for candidates that have taken the No NRA Money pledge.
Finally Kim Russell, Executive Advisor of the far-left Women’s March organization (and a former national outreach director for Moms Demand Action) took the stage.
She’d had a gun held to her head and was shot in an Atlanta shootout in 1999 when a friend of hers was killed. And though she “grew up with guns,” she’s sure that “if she had a gun that night, she’d be dead.”
Her message: there’s “common ground to be found.” We “all want the same thing…safety.” But, there are “no reasonable conversations with the NRA at the table.” They’re nothing more than “a middle-man moving money from gun makers to politicians.” The NRA “stokes racial tensions and misogyny.” She told the crowd that the only “true safety is found through solidarity” and she cryptically concluded that it’s “time to define and own our own safety.”
All the while, during breaks between speakers, Manuel Oliver, who had mounted an exhibition to commemorate the Parkland Shooting and his son, Joaquin, who died in the shooting, worked to complete a mural on the stage.
The mural’s final message: We Demand a Fair Game.