Gun rights proponents gathered around the Ohio Statehouse Saturday to rally in-favor of the Second Amendment. Credit: Maddy Fixler | Lantern reporter

More than 200 people gathered in front of the Ohio Statehouse Saturday in support of gun rights for an annual event that was organized by pro-gun organizations in Ohio. This year’s event was organized by Buckeye Firearms Association, Ohioans for Concealed Carry and Ohio Carry.

Gun rights proponents of all ages were present at the rally, from grandparents to toddlers. People chatted and various speakers professed their commitment to what they called their constitutional freedoms. Attendees carried their own weapons, as well as flags and signs to show their support of the Second Amendment.

In recent months, the discussion around gun legislation has become a focal point of American politics following the lethal shooting of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced a gun reform proposal for Ohio legislators in March, that included tightening of background checks and five other pieces of legislation. This has led many gun owners and proponents of the Second Amendment to believe their rights are being threatened.

Jim Dowdell, a longtime gun rights activist, travelled from Lorain County in northeast Ohio to attend the rally.

“I believe that ‘common sense,’ when you link it with gun control, is a codeword that means ‘We’re not going to tell you what it is we’re going to try to take, but we’re going to try and present it like it’s reasonable,’” Dowdell said. “Of all the amendments in the United States Constitution, the Second Amendment is the only one accompanied by the words ‘Shall not be infringed.’”

As firearms in schools are considered in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, much of the current focus on gun reform is on schools.

However, the gun debate has been on college campuses for some time.

Stephen Maxwell, a young man whose girlfriend attends Ohio State, said guns should be allowed on campus for self-defense purposes.

“Anyone can walk into a college class. I’ve done it with [my girlfriend]. Anyone can walk in there, so anyone can walk in with a gun. [The students] don’t carry because they’re law-abiding but someone that’s not law-abiding could easily hurt somebody, and I refuse to be a victim. That’s why I carry, and that’s why I’d prefer my girlfriend to carry as well,” Maxwell said.