As March for Our Lives rallies advocating for gun control unfolded across the nation on Saturday, some cities saw dueling events staged by pro-gun activists.
The state capitals of Utah and Arizona saw supporters on both sides of the issue, though the size of the pro-gun rallies appeared to be markedly smaller.
About 500 pro-gun advocates in Salt Lake City rallied for stronger schools and more armed teachers as they marched to the state Capitol building. Later on, about 6, 000 protesters fighting for stricter regulations on guns were seen walking the same route.
A similar scene played out in Phoenix, where around two dozen gun-rights advocates staged a counterprotest, holding flags and occasionally challenging their opponents to debate the issues. Their band of supporters was far smaller than the group of roughly 15, 000 people rallying for stepped-up gun control, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Opposing rallies of impassioned protesters also popped up in Helena, Mont. Teenage sisters helped put together the gun-control event and said they felt hope after survivors of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., had begun advocating for change. The Parkland school was the scene of a Valentine’s Day shooting spree that left 17 people dead.
“Finally, somebody was doing something about it, except it wasn’t who you’d expect — it was us, ” Mariah Thomas, 17, said to cheers. “It was students my own age who decided they wanted to put an end to gun violence. ”
Across town outside the State Capitol, a smaller crowd of gun-rights advocates swore that no outsiders would dictate gun laws in Montana. One speaker, Montana State University student Joey Chester, drew boos when he referenced the other protest.
“If something went wrong there, the first people to show up are going to be people with guns, ” Chester said.
“If something went wrong there, the first people to show up are going to be people with guns. ”
The March of Our Lives rally was organized by survivors of the Parkland shooting. The suspected shooter in that massacre, Nikolas Cruz, 19, used a legally purchased AR-15 assault rifle in his attack.
While the day’s main march was held in the nation’ s capital, some 800 sister marches were also planned in London, Tokyo, Sydney, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Mumbai, as well as in Parkland.
Fox News’ Kathleen Joyce and The Associated Press contributed to this report.