KETCHUM • Three days after a 21-year-old gunned down nine people at a Bible study in Charleston, S.C., nearly three dozen people marched along Ketchum’s Main Street, packing handguns in support of Idaho’s law permitting firearms to be carried openly.
Organizers scheduled the rally in response to an editorial in the June 10 Idaho Mountain Express that purported that public shaming would do a better job of promoting gun control than stricter gun-control laws, just as public shaming had helped curtail smoking.
“I’m here because this is a good cause—it shows support for the Second Amendment,” said Trevor Christopherson of Twin Falls.
The rally was organized by a group called Idaho III% via the group’s Facebook page. “Since when is it extreme to support the Constitution?” the page asked. And, “If Islamic terrorists are a ‘problem,’ why shame law-abiding citizens for being ready to defend you?”
The group came to prominence a couple of years ago and has about 30,000 followers on Facebook nationwide, said Johnathan Casey of Hailey. It has about 700 members in Idaho.
Followers call themselves “3 percenters” in the belief that 3 percent of the people will stand up for their constitutional rights, said Scott Drexler of Challis.
“There’s three things about rights,” said Eric Parker, a Hailey electrician. “You have to assert them, exercise them and defend them.”
The group gathered near Ketchum’s Forest Service Park before heading up Main Street carrying signs exhorting “The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed or shamed.”
“Smile. Show these people that these guns are not going to jump out of their holsters and starting shooting kids,” Parker told marchers.
The group elicited a few honks in response to a sign, “Honk if you’re not Communist,” as it moved peacefully along Main Street.
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America’s gun culture is back in the spotlight after the shooting at the South Carolina church, with some arguing that more gun control is needed to prevent mass shootings. Others say mass shootings could be prevented if more people carried guns.
At the rally, a lone man standing on a box painted with the words “Soap Box” met them outside the Idaho Mountain Express office. He held a sign saying “Repeal the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States,” referring to the amendment giving Americans the right to keep and bear arms.
“Hello, everybody,” said the man who identified himself as Don Q. Public. “You’re invited to use my soapbox if you like.”
Pamela Harmon Castagna of Pocatello shook as she read a lengthy statement on her Smart phone.
“As a newspaper editor, I’m sure you care a great deal about the First Amendment as do I,” she addressed an absentee editor. She added that she hoped people wouldn’t be led to believe that the Second Amendment is nothing more than “an archaic relic.”
“Does it escape your notice that mass shootings occur in gun-free zones, yet you want to create more?” she asked.
The lone dissenter told the group that he didn’t personally mind guns but that he thinks they’re dangerous and prefers they be kept discreet.
“Do you offer a solution to keep guns out of hands of nuts?” he asked, adding that Founding Fathers passed the Second Amendment so that Americans could defend themselves in the form of a militia.
“We don’t debate the Second Amendment,” Parker said, cutting short the debate. “We don’t debate the Constitution.”
The doors to the newspaper office were locked during the rally, and Publisher Pam Morris did not return a phone call seeking comment on the rally.