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Gun rights advocates rally at Minnesota Capitol

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Victor Rantala, right, of Prior Lake, holds an American flag.
Victor Rantala, right, of Prior Lake, holds an American flag on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul on Saturday, April 28, 2018. The rally, organized by the National Rifle Association and the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, brought Minnesotans together in support of the Second Amendment.
Liam James Doyle for MPR News

Updated: 5:15 p.m. | Posted: 11:30 a.m. 

Representatives from a coalition of gun rights organizations, along with the Republican Party of Minnesota, gathered Saturday afternoon at the Minnesota Capitol for a rally in support of the Second Amendment.

The rally started at about noon, with the Minnesota State Patrol estimating the crowd at about 2,000 people just after 12:30 p.m. Organizers said the rally's purpose was to demonstrate strong public support for the Second Amendment, and stand against proposed gun control legislation in Minnesota and across the country.

Republican State Rep. Marion O'Neill of Maple Lake told the crowd that some Democratic lawmakers want more than what they often call "common-sense" gun-control measures.

A man who asked not to be identified, center, carries a firearm.
A man who asked not to be identified, center, carries a firearm alongside others on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul on Saturday, April 28, 2018. The rally, organized by the National Rifle Association and the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, brought Minnesotans together in support of the Second Amendment.
Liam James Doyle for MPR News

"Taking guns away from law-abiding citizens is not the answer" to gun violence, she said. "We stand here today, united, law-abiding citizens to defend our Second Amendment rights. They will stop at nothing to take that away and that's why we are here today."

Many in the crowd held American flags and signs with messages such as "ban idiots, not guns."

Lisa Bowman said she attended the rally because she doesn't believe more gun-control laws would stop mass shootings in the U.S.

A variety of flags flew in support of gun rights and patriotism.
A variety of flags flew in support of gun rights and patriotism on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul on Saturday, April 28, 2018. The rally, organized by the National Rifle Association and the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, brought Minnesotans together in support of the Second Amendment.
Liam James Doyle for MPR News

"A gun just doesn't shoot itself," she said. "We just need to really reach out and start helping people. In Canada we have a man that plowed over people. Ten people died — from his car."

While Republican lawmakers who addressed the crowd touted a victory after some gun control proposals, such as universal background checks, fell flat in the state legislature earlier in the week, rally supporter Jeffrey Lennartson said he is hoping both political parties can work together to find solutions to ongoing gun violence.   "I think there is not enough cross-party talk on the subject to really get anything accomplished so it just continues to be a stalemate," he said.

The groups organizing the rally included the National Rifle Association, the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus and Political Action Committee, and the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance.

Saturday's rally comes just over a month after a March for Our Lives event drew 20,000 people, led by students, to the steps of the Minnesota Capitol to call on lawmakers to pass stricter gun control legislation.