LEHI, Utah -- Hundreds of gun owners participated in a rally at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi on Saturday to celebrate their successes during the legislative session as well as look to the future.
The event organizers said they want to keep momentum going and keep the pressure on Gov. Gary Herbert to sign H.B. 76 into law, which would allow Utahns to carry concealed weapons without a concealed weapons permit.
On the other side of things, the Alliance for a Better Utah, said much of the recent state legislation regarding guns has been reactionary, and they are urging Herbert to veto H.B. 76. The group said Utah’s current laws on concealed weapons already relaxed enough.
Maryann Martindale, executive director for Alliance for a Better Utah, said, “We are hoping, cautiously optimistic, that if he holds to his word he will veto HB76, and it won't become law.”
Terry Brown is the co-owner of Utahguns.com, and he said gun owners are being marginalized lately. He said activism for change begins at a grassroots level.
"We think we made a lot of progress,” he said. “We didn't go exactly as far as we wanted it to, but the point that I think we did make is that the legislators know how many of us are out here and how passionate we are about this. That we're not going to stand in the background, that we'll meet on the steps, we'll meet in the judiciary committee rooms, we'll meet in the Senate, we're going to get this done."
Martindale said people shouldn’t make gun control an all-or-nothing issue.
“It becomes so polarizing it becomes either, you have to arm yourself to the teeth and you have a stinger missile in the garage, or you are so anti-gun that you want them to come with the storm troopers and take everyone's guns back," she said. "Really, no one is there. The middle of the population of Utah and middle of the population of the country are looking for reasonable, decent safety regulations. And that's what we are calling for."
Gun owner James Wood said he thinks gun owners are often misrepresented.
“We've been characterized as extremist, racist, terrorists and that's not what we are at all,” he said. “We are families. We are husbands. We are wives. We are fathers, mothers, children—and all we care about is getting back to a constitutionally limited government.”
Attendees at the rally also praised local Sheriffs who wrote a letter to President Obama, which said those sheriffs had sworn an oath to the constitution and preserve the spirit of the Second Amendment, and that they were prepared to protect that oath with their live.