Pro-gun rally at UVM
A rally in support of gun rights drew hundreds to the University of Vermont. Student organizers said the rally was in response to new proposed gun laws in Vermont, specifically raising the legal age of buying a firearm from 16 to 21.
"I think it is pretty hypocritical that the government can draft me into a war and force me to use a gun, but I can't buy a gun," said Jace Laquerre, a freshman at UVM and an organizer of the pro-gun rally.
"We are hoping to influence our Legislature and tell them that there are young people that are pro-gun. a lot of them actually," said Laquerre.
Bob DePino, the vice president of Gun Owners of Vermont, voiced his disappointment with Gov. Phil Scott's deviation from his long-held view that the state should not create new gun control laws.
"All of a sudden, he has this 180-degree flip. That just doesn't feel right," said DePino.
But to some, those proposed changes don't go far enough.
"It was a shock to come here and look into the lack of gun laws," said Eden Harari, a student at UVM.
Outside the chapel, a group of about 25 students held a vigil for the lives lost to gun violence. They held candles and signs, in honor of the 17 students shot and killed in Parkland, Florida.
"I almost want to invite one or two of them in and say, 'Hey, have a seat and be part of the conversation,’" said DePino.
As the rally began, the group of protesters entered the chapel. They stood at the front of church silently, with their backs turned to the rally.
"I think that changes are necessary across the whole country," said Harari.
Some pro-gun advocates say they, too, want increased protections for kids in school, but not through restricting new gun laws.
"Arm some faculty, arm some staff, it doesn't have to be teachers but we have people who teach who are retired law enforcement and ex-military and they are already trained," said DePino.
Organizers say they don't have plans to hold another pro-gun rally is the foreseeable future.