Students lead nationwide counterprotests promoting gun rights

Conservative students in at least 13 cities across the country rallied for gun rights on Saturday in an attempt to counter months of protests from the student-led March for Our Lives gun control movement.

Organizers with the "March for Our Rights" planned rallies in Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., among other cities, on Saturday, expecting modest turnout compared to the large-scale marches earlier this year in favor of tougher gun restrictions. Newsweek reported about 250 people were attending the California rally.

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Speakers at Saturday's events in Washington included NRA TV host Cam Edwards. Former Republican Rep. Joe Walsh (Ill.) spoke at the Chicago rally.

Counterprotesters overshadowed coverage of the Chicago rally, however, as thousands of protesters supporting gun control poured onto a city freeway, blocking traffic and completely shutting down a major interstate.

March for Our Rights National Director Xena Amirani, who attends the University of Southern California and spoke at the Los Angeles rally, told Newsweek that negative interactions with the media following the March for Our Lives protests led directly to Saturday's protests.

Planning for the rallies began in April, shortly after the well-funded March For Our Lives protests in all 50 states. 

"The reason why our movement was founded was due to a negative reaction we had directly with the media in the wake of the Parkland shooting and March for Our Lives," Amirani said. "There was no publicity assisting us.” 

Anthony Bartosiewicz, a 16-year-old member of the pro-gun movement from Illinois told The Washington Post, "I feel like we’ve been drowned out of the conversation is because people who are pro-gun aren’t confident enough to speak their mind.”

“We both have the same end goal in mind,” Bartosiewicz told the Post of the two student-led movements. “We just have different solutions.”

Black Guns Matter founder Maj Toure, who was slated to speak in Pennsylvania at a rally on Saturday, told Newsweek that his organization joined the movement because it sees gun control as "racist."

“We’re not too many days behind the Fourth of July. African-Americans have a rich history with firearms," Toure said. “All gun control is racist."

Amirani added on NRA TV this week that despite her movement's lack of funding compared to the March for Our Lives, she hoped its grass-roots nature would spur future support. The group is funded by small donations, she said. 

“What we’re doing is completely authentic, so hopefully the message will get across despite the lack of funds,” she said.