About 75 people turned out for a rally in Pendleton on Saturday morning to support their right to own and carry firearms.
The group gathered at Til Taylor Park in a coordinated effort with other gun-rights rallies throughout Oregon.
HollyJo Beers, vice-lead of the Oregon Three Percenters of Umatilla County, helped organize the event. She told the audience they needed to stand up for themselves, and for the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
“What part of ‘shall not be infringed’ don’t they understand?” she asked.
The crowd also heard from Rob Lovett, a Greater Hermiston Area Tea Party member, who asked people to get out and vote against Initiative Petitions 43 and 44 in November.
“If these measures pass, your arms will be locked up,” he said.
Measure 43 proposes a statewide ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Measure 44 would require Oregon gun owners to comply with several requirements for their firearms, including specific storage rules, directly supervising any child who uses their gun, reporting a lost or stolen gun within 24 hours, and taking full liability for any injury caused with their gun, except when defending themselves or someone else.
Lovett said protecting the Second Amendment is about protecting security of freedom, of property, and of life. He also said America was facing an attack on its traditions.
“The first thing they did was take God out of our culture, and out of the schools,” he said.
Several other speakers discussed their efforts to protect gun rights. Jesse Bonifer, lead of the Umatilla County Oregon Three Percenters, gave listeners a brief history of gun control in the United States. He said his group recently crafted a Second Amendment Protection Ordinance.
“It’s basically a road block for anyone who wants to take our guns in Umatilla County,” he said.
Some audience members traveled more than an hour for the event. Lori Brock, a Baker City resident, said she and her husband learned about the event on Facebook and wanted to take part. She said she was glad to see Second Amendment supporters being vocal, as she said many don’t often get out and protest.
“Most of us who enjoy our guns and freedoms are just pacifists and like to be in our homes and safe,” she said. “I feel like our side gets overlooked, because you always see the opposition in the news.”
The lawn around the rally was peppered with signs in support of Sam Carpenter, a Republican gubernatorial candidate from Bend.
Eli Stephens, a Pendleton resident and member of the Oregon Three Percenters, said he was impressed with the crowd.
“There’s a very diverse crowd of white collar and blue collar, old and young, church people and non-church people,” he said.
Beers, an Athena resident, said the Oregon Three Percenters have grown in the last year, from about three members to 25. She said they do community service events, but also stand up for Second Amendment rights by writing letters and organizing rallies.
“We are not anti-government,” she said. “We are anti-corrupt government.”