One day after students at Central Ohio schools walked out of class again to call for tighter gun laws, pro-gun activists will rally themselves in downtown Columbus.
Saturday's Patriots Day Rally at the Ohio Statehouse is organized by three groups that oppose most gun regulations, including Ohio Carry, Buckeye Firearms Association and Ohioans for Concealed Carry.
Gary Witt of Ohioans For Concealed Carry says the event, which begins at 11 a.m., is not necessarily a gun rally. He says it’s meant to celebrate freedom and honor those who fought for American independence during the Revolutionary War.
But he says there will be plenty of guns on display.
“It’s unfortunate that people are scared of guns," Witt says. "Guns by themselves are innate objects."
The rally comes amid a time of increased debate over gun control in America, although Congress has so far not acted on any of the proposals pushed by student protesters who want to require universal background checks and ban automatic weapons and high capacity magazines.
In Ohio, state lawmakers have introduced bills to both expand and restrict gun regulations. House Bill 228 would make Ohio a so-called “stand your ground” state by eliminating the requirement to retreat before using deadly force. It would also place further restrictions on what gun laws cities can pass.
Witt says it’s unfortunate that Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich has thrown his support behind several other gun bills, including a proposed “red flag” law that would let judges issue gun restraining orders for people deemed at risk of committing violence.
“The first that person will know about it will be a knock on the door with the protection order and the guns will be seized immediately,” Witt says.
Under a bill proposed by Democratic state Senator and candidate for governor Joe Schiavoni, a judge could order guns be seized from someone for 14 days before that person is granted a hearing. After the hearing, people could have their guns seized for up to one year.
The Saturday rally comes five weeks after gun rights activists rallied outside the Statehouse. That rally was explicitly political and featured some conservative politicians, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Mary Taylor.