Gun rights enthusiasts stood in the cold rain listening to speakers for two hours Saturday afternoon on the Kansas Statehouse grounds during a Second Amendment rally highlighted by the appearance of Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach.
A head count showed about 250 people were present for the gathering near the south steps of the Statehouse, said Melissa Stout, who teamed up with fellow Wichita resident Denise O’Leary to organize the rally.
Stout said the turnout, despite the weather conditions, showed that “we care about our rights.”
The rally came on a day when the National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans encouraged Second Amendment advocates to rally across the nation.
A light rain fell amid temperatures in the lower 40s throughout Saturday’s event, where several audience members carried signs or American flags.
Eleven speakers went to the podium, at times accompanied by someone to hold an umbrella above their head.
Saturday’s 10th speaker was Kobach, whose planned appearance Stout hadn’t revealed in advance because she wasn’t sure he would make it.
Kobach voiced concern about what he described as an “assault on our gun culture in America.”
He said that in the wake of the Feb. 14 mass school shooting in which 17 people were killed in Parkland, Fla., some large corporations have attacked the notion that reasonable people can respect and enjoy the right to keep and bear arms.
Kobach encouraged those in Saturday’s audience to attend a Second Amendment rally where he’ll speak at 10 a.m. Friday on the south steps of the Statehouse.
Saturday’s first speaker was Jeff Caldwell, of Leawood, a Libertarian candidate for governor who questioned the assertion that the Founding Fathers didn’t give specific guidance on what they intended the Second Amendment to be.
Caldwell referred to Thomas Jefferson. Friday marked the 275th anniversary of his birth.
Caldwell quoted from a letter Jefferson wrote to John Cartwright dated June 5, 1824, in which Jefferson said of the people, “it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.”
The right to bear arms is inherent and God-given, Caldwell added.
“Nobody has a right to take it away,” he said.
Rebecca Schmoe, of Ottawa, a self-described “spokesmom” for a group called 1 Million Moms Against Gun Control, told Saturday’s audience that “a few anti-freedom squeaky wheels” have been trampling on the rights of millions of gun owners and potential gun owners.
“We have ‘gone along to get along’ for too long,” she said, drawing applause.
Schmoe told of how Greensboro, N.C., gun owner Mark Robinson made an impassioned speech earlier this month at a city council meeting there, telling council members “I am the majority” in terms of being a gun rights advocate and a law-abiding citizen.
“It is time we are heard,” Schmoe said. ‘We are the majority.”