By Ryan Richardson
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
More than 150 residents, local politicians and rally organizers attended what was described as a “peaceful demonstration to support and defend the Second Amendment” Saturday at Landreth Park in Joplin as part of a national day of protest against proposed legislation restricting firearm ownership.
Jesse Mills, a student at Missouri Southern State University and a Navy veteran, said that he organized the event, with the assistance of the Joplin and Southwest Missouri tea party groups, to help educate the public on the dangers of what he calls “the government’s push to take away our Second Amendment rights.”
“I’m not going to just lay down and not fight this,” Mills said. “We have to educate people and tell them what is coming. This is about rights, plain and simple.”
Mills said that the event was a grass-roots effort in the promotion for the event and in the speaker choices.
“We did the emails and the fliers and Facebook to get the word out,” Mills said. “We tried to do this different because most of these events are completely politician-filled. We wanted the people to be able to speak.”
John Broom, of Joplin, spoke at the event Saturday. Broom, along with several other members of the group, is trying to establish a permanent group in the area, called the Southwest Missouri Firearms Freedom Coalition, to support firearm rights.
“We want people to know what we are about and why we support this right,” Broom said. “The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting. It’s not about competition or sport, and it really isn’t about self-defense. It’s about rights of the people to protect themselves from invaders and from tyrants. We have to start educating folks really quick.”
Broom cited the Obama administration’s call for gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., which took the lives of 28 people, including 20 children, as unconstitutional.
“The guns weren’t responsible for the shootings that happened,” Broom said. “Those individuals who committed the acts are responsible.”
State Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, spoke at the day’s event. Davis believes that bills that have been introduced recently in the Missouri House of Representatives, like House Bill 545, which would make it a felony to possess assault weapons, have little chance to become law.
“Today was just a large group of conservative-minded people supporting their Second Amendment rights,” Davis said. “We peaceably assembled to put out the message that we should protect the constitutional rights we already have.”