Both sides of the gun control issue rally supporters
NASHUA - Among the protesters rallying outside of Nashua City Hall on Saturday was Chez Perez, who stood out with his large Scar battle rifle draped around his neck.
Perez is openly passionate about his Second Amendment rights, stressing the notion that there are still good guys with guns.
"I had to get a background check for every gun I own," said Perez, of Nashua. "I am here to make sure that no one takes my rights away. And don't you dare tread on my child's rights."
Perez was one of about 100 people gathered at City Hall Plaza participating in two opposing rallies. The Organizing For Action group hosted a gun violence prevention rally, while the New Hampshire Tea Party Coalition spearheaded a simultaneous counter-rally supporting gun rights.
The protesters stood side-by-side holding opposing signs, and while there were some verbal escalations, the rally was relatively civil as police presence canvassed the area and passing motorists honked and yelled.
"These people come here with an agenda to overpower, intimidate and threaten. I just don't understand that," said State Rep. Sylvia Gale of Nashua. "Watching them carry those shields around, I mean it just makes one wonder if you took their gun away what we would see."
Gale was one of at least three local state representatives who participated in the rally in support of expanded background checks for gun purchases.
Deidre Reynolds, volunteer with the Organizing For Action Nashua Chapter, maintained that the majority of New Hampshire voters support measures to prevent gun violence. Specifically, she said, there are loopholes when purchasing guns online and at gun shows.
Holding signs that read, "We are not backing down," participants urged Sen. Kelly Ayotte to reverse her vote against expanded background checks on gun purchases.
Urging common-sense gun violence prevention legislation, Keith Thompson of the Brookline Democrats said Ayotte needs to have the courage to do what is right for New Hampshire.
"I understand that people are afraid, but they are afraid without the facts," Thompson said of the counter-rally.
New Hampshire voters will send a clear message to Ayotte when they do not reelect her to office, said state Rep. Pam Brown of Nashua, who hopes Ayotte will ignore her "Republican marching orders" and instead listen to her constituents.
Carrying his 9mm pistol, Jonathan Randall of Wakefield argued that there are already adequate gun laws.
"I don't carry all the time, but when I do carry, it is for my safety and my family's safety," said Randall.
Joe Evans of Manchester agreed. Evans fears that expanded background checks may eventually lead to mandatory gun registrations, which he does not favor.
"I am here to support my gun rights," said Evans, who was pleased that so many pro-gun activists were present on Saturday.
Cindy Hammond of Laconia contended that if universal background checks were implemented, law-abiding people would be harmed and criminals would still find a way to obtain guns.
"The criminals will always get the guns," she maintained. "All this will do is make it more difficult to share a gun at a target range or loan a gun to a relative."
Not everyone agreed.
John Hanson of Merrimack said it is the many victims of Newtown, Columbine, Aurora and Virginia Tech that must be remembered when discussing background checks.
"A little bit of sensible gun control doesn't sound like a bad idea," said Hanson, who was holding a sign that said three out of four Granite State residents are unhappy that Ayotte voted against expanded background checks.