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Activists face off in Dallas as NRA convention continues

By
Susan McFarland
Activists argue during a protest Saturday on the second day of the NRA annual conference Dallas. Photo by Larry W. Smith EPA/EFE
Activists argue during a protest Saturday on the second day of the NRA annual conference Dallas. Photo by Larry W. Smith EPA/EFE

May 5 (UPI) -- As the National Rifle Association's annual conference continued Saturday in Dallas, demonstrators on both sides of the gun debate flocked to downtown.

Protests were held at Dallas City Hall and at Belo Garden, giving speakers a chance to call for change in gun control laws in response to mass shootings in Las Vegas and Parkland, Fla., the city where a high school massacre sparked nationwide rallies by students.

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Fred Guttenberg, father of one of the teenage victims of the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Fla., set up a stage at Belo Gardens park, just a few blocks from the NRA convention.

"My daughter was hunted at school," Guttenberg said, referring to 14-year-old Jaime at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school.

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As Guttenberg spoke, pro-gun supporters heckled him with a bullhorn.

Manuel and Patricia Oliver, who lost their son Joaquin in the Florida high school shooting, also came to Dallas.

As Manuel Oliver spoke, he invited President Donald Trump, who addressed NRA members on Friday, to visit their home.

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"Spend five minutes of your time in Joaquin's empty room," Manual Oliver said.

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At Dallas City Hall as another protest was underway, gun rights activists carrying weapons were nearby with "Come and Take It" banners.

The protests were organized by the newly formed NoRA -- "No Rifle Association," a group that brought free T-shirts and posters reading "OUR LIVES OVER NRA MONEY."

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Actor Alyssa Milano, founder of the group, and other activists had a brief confrontation with gun-rights supporters until Dallas police officers intervened.

Ben Jackson, an NoRA co-founder, said the group is aimed at educating the public on the NRA's influence in government.

"The amount of money the NRA spends on government really affects how we debate gun violence," Jackson said. "We're not trying to take away anyone's guns, we're not trying to repeal the Second Amendment. We're trying to help government function better."

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