SANDPOINT, Idaho – Hundreds of people rallied in Sandpoint on Saturday , but they were divided on what to do about the issue of gun violence in America.
Some residents gathered in support of the Second Amendment and held a “March for our Rights” across the Long Bridge, in response to the national movement and other rally in town, "March for our Lives.”
As young people and their supporters walked through downtown carrying signs that read “teachers should be in charge of grades, not Glocks," pro-gun activists marched across the Long Bridge.
“It was amazing, especially considering the fact that it was during snow and howling wind,” March for our Rights organizer Stephen Wasylko said. “We had people from...I know the youngest there was 8 months and we had people all the way up to their 80s who set up their chairs at the beginning the bridge.”
Photos: March for our Rights rally in Sandpoint, Idaho
Many people who oppose gun control said they still felt that increased gun measures will be used infringe on their Second Amendment rights.
"I think a lot of the citizens that are out there and support gun control truly believe that adding another law is going to help somehow,” Wasylko said Saturday. “But that’s just going to lead to nothing being done to solve the actual problem.”
“I think we have a huge issue with mental health, with the breakdown of the family in America,” he said. “You can look at most of these school shooters…I mean, I believe something like 80 percent of them are from fatherless homes. These are not things that were happening years ago.”
Wasylko said he believes every school should have an armed school resource officer and believes some teachers could be armed.
"I think we’ve got teachers out there who obviously love their students and are willing to die for them, I think they’d probably be willing to protect them as well,” he said. “In every [mass shooting] situation, there is a good person with a gun who stops it.”
Wasylko said many of the March for our Rights protesters had agreed Saturday’s rally was the first of many.
“Gun owners are really fed up with what’s going on right now, and just feel like this is the last straw,” he said.
Nearby in downtown Sandpoint, other North Idaho residents held a March for our Lives rally in the snow.
Photos from the march show students and adults carrying signs that read “fear has no place in schools” and “protect kids, not guns,” while another woman carried a flag with the peace symbol on it.
"We understand and will always appreciate that a lot of people in North Idaho like to hunt and there’s a lot of respect for hunting and having handguns for home protection," Rebecca Holland, who helped organize the March for our Lives in Sandpoint said. "But there’s no place in society for high capacity assault weapons."
Holland explained the march Saturday was led by Sandpoint High School students, and that her non-partisan group North Idaho Women had helped them plan and obtain a permit.
"The other side will argue that [the students] are just being manipulated…wrangled into doing this. But they are educated and articulate," Holland said. "And I believe they will make a change."
Holland said she believes lawmakers should put more money into counselors for schools and reducing class sizes rather than arming educators.
"If you want to put money into schools, it’s not putting handguns in the classroom of your third grade teacher," she said. "Help her help the students that need the help, that’s where it’s at in our opinion."
Across the nation on Saturday, people took to the streets to march against gun violence, including Sandpoint, Spokane and Coeur d'Alene.
Anyone with photos of the marches in the Inland Northwest is welcome to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to include where you snapped those pictures.