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Gun violence survivors slam NRA

Outside the NRA Convention, protesters rally for common sense gun laws.

CREDIT: Luke Barnes/Think Progress

DALLAS, TEXAS — Activists and survivors of gun violence joined forces outside Dallas City Hall to send a message to the NRA convention, happening less than a mile away.

The “Rally 4 Reform” was made up of students, along with members of Mom Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety.

Also present was artist Manuel Oliver who lost his son, Joaquin, at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida last February. In between speakers, Oliver drew a mural featuring Donald Trump, and the NRA’s chief spokeswoman Dana Loesch.

Speakers at the rally on Saturday didn’t take issue with the thousands of gun-owners descending upon the nearby convention center. Rather, they called for common sense gun laws supported by 97 percent of Americans.

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“There’s so many people like me who grew up here in gun-owning households and know that what we’re seeing today is not responsible gun ownership,” Amanda Johnson, an activist with Moms Demand Action who lost her sister to gun violence, told Think Progress. “I still have guns in my home so I’m really fanatical about safe storage. My brother hunts 150 days a year.”

“I think that it’s one thing to be enthusiastic about guns and really try to expand gun rights when it’s all in theory,” she continued. “But when you realize the lives that are taken by those guns, I think that it gives them a little bit more weight.”

The rally was good natured by and large, the only exception being a man who identified himself as a reporter with Infowars who was asked by Dallas police to leave, after protesters complained about harassing questions from him.

Together, the activists and survivors launched a sweeping counter-narrative to the oft-repeated NRA trope that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, was with a good guy with a gun.

“We all know the statistics show having more guns out there is not going to decrease violence, all it’s going to do is put more lives at risk,” Diana Earl, who lost her son to gun violence, told ThinkProgress. “You’re going to have children getting access to the weapons, you’re going to have people who aren’t properly trained. More guns out there are not going to solve the problem.”

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“I’ve never seen anybody protected with a gun, ever,” said Steven Bonner, a warehouse worker from Dallas who was at the rally with his daughters.

“I’ve seen people protected by someone getting in between a fight. I’ve never, ever seen or heard anybody who has been protected by a gun.”