The News Tribune has reported on multiple perspectives concerning issues of gun owners' rights and gun reform. Read a story from earlier this year that highlights another perspective here.
More than 150 people from different areas of Missouri gathered Saturday at the state Capitol to voice their support for the Second Amendment.
Missouri's "Americans for America" rally ran in conjunction with other nationwide Second Amendment rights events, hosted by the National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans.
NCCPA Missouri spokesperson Sean Neumann said the main point of the rally is for people to network and voice their opinions to local politicians.
"We're hoping people will get that we're not just gun-toting rednecks trying to kill people," Neumann said. "We're actually standing up for the Constitution and we're not a violent group. We want our politicians to know that we support the constitution and that they should too."
About 100 people were expected to attend the rally at the Capitol, according to the Capitol event permit, but more than 150 people filtered in and out during the three-hour gathering.
Many Missourians spoke during the event, several saying they wanted to make sure their voices were heard and to break the stereotypes associated with Second Amendment supporters.
"I see on the media, I hear all the things they show, and the narrative is it's white male rednecks, and I think it's important as an educated woman to come up and have my voice heard," Christa Leukert said. "It's also important that as a member of the majority, I'm not silent because currently what we see on TV is that everyone is against guns except for these crazy little backwoods areas of town and that's not true. It's about my voice being heard and showing that I don't necessarily fit the narrative as far as what the media wants us to believe."
Justus Laporte, commanding officer of the Missouri State Militia, said he hoped by having rallies, both sides could see each other's point of views and work toward a solution.
"I hope people who are on the fence or even those on the opposite side come away with we're not threats, we're not terrorists. We're regular Americans like everyone else — we're teachers, we're doctors, we're lawyers, we're oil field workers, we're nurses, we're veterans," he said. "I would just like to see people come together and allow people to see that we're not a threat, we're not here to be fools. We just believe in the Constitution and believe in protecting it and protecting our rights."
Others spoke of the history of the Second Amendment, which states, "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."
Many speakers said they did not believe the government should regulate guns as it would violate the amendment, adding they viewed the amendment as a way to protect themselves and others.
To Leukert, the Second Amendment is not just the right to bear arms but also the "right to choose."
"To me, when we talk about the Second Amendment, I'm talking about my right to choose whether I wish to bear arms or not, and regardless of that choice, the fact that I had that choice," she said. "To me, the constitution is about choices. I have choices (and) that is my freedom — don't take that freedom away from me to make those choices. If you don't want to own a gun, you don't have to own a gun. If you don't want to fire a gun, you don't have to fire it, but give me a choice."
Neumann said there were protesters at other NCCPA nationwide Saturday rallies. There did not appear to be protesters at the event.
The NCCPA was created earlier this year to provide an umbrella for other pro-Second Amendment organizations and to host non-confrontational events, Neumann said.
Gun control has been a heated topic over the last several years, recently reigniting after the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people. The crowd held a moment of silence for victims of gun violence.