All across the nation, state capitals set the stage for "Guns Across America" rallies. The message was simple: Gun owners are law-abiding citizens who want to protect themselves, their families and their property.
In Bismarck, about 75 people braved extreme temperatures and wind chill, as a string of speakers made impassioned pleas to leave current gun rights intact.
"A gun is just the same thing as insurance -- protection against the people that want to harm us."
"And everybody wants to argue with it, but the police's response time -- 20 minutes -- is not good enough. It's not their duty to protect my family. It is my duty to protect my family."
"There's two other leaders in the world that we all are well aware of that had gun control in their countries -- and that's Stalin and Hitler."
"Silence is nothing more than just becoming sheep. We need to let everyone know that these are all freedoms and we are not going to let them go. They need to be there for our children."
One advocate had words for those who would infringe upon Second Amendment rights: "They are simply scared and uneducated. I know this, because I used to be one of them. I grew up in a home without guns. I was not exposed to hunting, shooting sports or self-defense methods. All that I knew was that guns were dangerous and I was not to ever touch them. Looking back, I feel I was vulnerable and deprived."
Not everyone was of like mind. One attendee brought with her a somewhat different point of view. "I'm not opposed to hunting, but I really don't understand why we have to have overkill with the assault rifles," said Judith Hammer.
Overall, resolve against the severe wind and weather was strong, as was support for the Second Amendment. Rod Bosch of Mandan had this to say: "I feel our freedoms are being trampled. I just think that the Second Amendment of the Constitution is being overlooked." Benjamin Ponzer of Gwinner said, "I feel that the Second Amendment is, should not be infringed upon in any way, shape or form. And I'm a, I very much enjoy using my Second Amendment in recreational activities and on the off chance that, hopefully, I never need it, but it's there."
The ongoing nationwide gun control debate will be addressed by Representative Kevin Cramer tonight as he speaks to the Burleigh County "Friends of the NRA" organization. The group celebrates the Second Amendment today, which is "Gun Appreciation Day."
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