Dozens of armed demonstrators have marched through the downtown St. Louis to confirm their right to carry firearms openly in public. Only some 10 policemen watched the march without much interest, even after the group met counter protesters.
A heavily armed crowd of over 40 people marched on Saturday afternoon from the Citygarden to the Gateway Arch, openly displaying their arsenal. A group of some 10 police officers took a note of the gathering, but did not follow or otherwise intervene with the group armed with pistols and rifles, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Gun right support. City Garden Downtown St.louis pic.twitter.com/5sLZjjDL6p
— Search4Swag (@search4swag) October 25, 2014
The event, organized by Jeffry Smith, comes after a state constitutional amendment was passed in August strengthening the right to own firearms. In a separate law Missouri legislators effectively removed municipal bans on openly carrying weapons. Both laws combined make it legal for anyone with a concealed weapons permit to carry a weapon openly.
— Brad Choat (@choatsnews) October 25, 2014
The demonstration was called “to exercise the newly codified rights in the Missouri Constitution,” Smith told St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The event Saturday was intended to demonstrate everyone that open carry is indeed legal, Smith added.
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) October 25, 2014
Once the pro-gun activists reached the Citygarden, a larger group of counter protester gathered alongside in a “die-in” protest. They used chalk outlines of bodies on the ground bearing the names of people shot by police. “Open carry is indecent exposure,” read one sign.
Both rallies, which the Mayor of St. Louis, Francis Slay called a “scene out of a bad Western,” ended peacefully.
“This is not Deadwood, South Dakota in the 1870s,” he said. “In Deadwood, there was no law, but in Missouri, it is the law,” he said. “I don’t know what is worse.”