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Gun-Rights Advocates Rally in Ventura Against New Laws

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Waving picket signs and talking about the 2nd Amendment with anyone who walked by, about 150 gun owners gathered Saturday afternoon in east Ventura to protest the state’s new load of weapons laws.

The rally was held on the front lawn of the Ventura County Government Center and was hosted by a grass-roots organization called the Ventura County Veto-the-Governor Committee.

“I don’t want to see our rights taken away as individuals. I mean, criminals will always find a way to get weapons. We’re not the ones causing any threat,” said 24-year-old Ventura resident Melissa Cary.

Cary, who wore a small, round pin on her T-shirt proclaiming her National Rifle Assn. membership, came to the rally with her husband and in-laws.

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The rally drew people of varying ages and backgrounds. There were war veterans in baseball caps, people in cowboy attire, homemakers, grandmothers, and young couples with small children.

Some of the crowd sat on chairs that anchored red, white and blue balloons, while others walked a picket line with signs at the corner of Telephone and Victoria roads. Dozens of passing drivers honked in support.

It makes no sense, said Thousand Oaks resident Roger McGrath, to aim laws “at the tools of crime instead of criminals.”

“Criminals--murderers, rapists and robbers--won’t be deterred” by stringent gun laws, said McGrath, one of several speakers who addressed the crowd from a dais beneath a towering flagpole.

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Reid Ripley, standing behind a table where NRA members collected signatures on petitions to recall Gov. Gray Davis, summed up the crowd’s general belief.

“There are too many gun laws, and California’s gun laws are too tight,” he said.

Although the rally attendees (the event drew no opposition demonstrators) were protesting recent firearms legislation, the day’s focus was on two specific new laws.

The Veto-the-Governor Committee and several other local groups disagree with the ban on Saturday night specials and an assault weapons bill that tightens existing laws concerning the ownership and sales of assault weapons.


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