Two rallies centered around guns bring hundreds to Florida capital

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By: Alex Crescenti | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 29, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Saturday afternoon in downtown Tallahassee, hundreds of people came out for two rallies. One in support of guns, the other looking for gun reform.

While the two rallies were held only a couple of blocks away from each other, their beliefs could not be further apart. Speakers with the Big Pro Gun Rally called for no compromise when it comes to gun reform. The Road to Change March For Our Lives movement calls for younger people to get educated about voting this fall.

Two hours before the Big Pro Gun Rally, supporters were coming out to show their backing of the Second Amendment, and say they believe it is under attack.

"I believe once you start taking away one thing you kind of just have no limits," said Mark Villafane, a speaker at the event.

With mass shootings in Orlando, Las Vegas and Parkland all taking place in the past two years, gun supporters say more regulation is not the answer to solving the problem.

"Laws aren't preventative right? So, you can have laws, but murder is illegal, it's been that way forever," said Chuck Ellis, a gun supporter.

After the Valentines Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students from the school pressed lawmakers in the state to enact change. But, gun rights activists say they are only looking at the debate form one angle.

"You have to step back and look at the bigger picture. When you kind of lived a little bit and seen stuff going on it can be very trying and you can start saying my perspective changes," said Joshua Taylor, a former law enforcement officer.

Just down the road at Kleman Plaza it was a different message coming form March For Our Lives.

"People are actually realizing that we do have a voice and our voice is our vote and we can use that to change things," said Lauren Hogg.

Voter registration tents were set up at the heart of the rally, sending a strong signal to politicians.

"For too long politicians in this country have gotten a free pass," said Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016.

Those with March For Our Lives say their mission isn't to take people's guns away, but to make the country a safer place.

"I think just like any other amendment we have to have reasonable limitations on those, just for the same reason you can't yell, 'fire' in a crowded theater, you shouldn't have the ability," said Hogg.

With both sides calling on politicians to either uphold or change the laws when it comes to guns, there are two dates to keep in mind. Monday is the last day to register for the August primary and Saturday marks 100 days until the November midterm elections.

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