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Speakers At Topeka Pro-Gun Rally Criticize Student Firearms Protests

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3
About 200 people attended a pro gun rally Friday morning on the south side of the Kansas Statehouse.

A pro-gun rally on the south side of the Kansas Statehouse drew about 200 people to Topeka on Friday morning as students around the country walked out of class to protest gun violence.

The rally was organized by the Kansas State Rifle Association and the NRA.

Speakers repeated familiar slogans, arguing that "only a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun," that progressives want to repeal the Second Amendment, and that if people are old enough to serve in the military, they're old enough to conceal carry.

There was also a new one aimed at student rallies around the country.

“Some students were going to go out and talk about their ideas about public policy because, you know, when you’re 16 years old you pretty much know everything you need to know,” Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach told the crowd.

“These 16 year olds don’t speak for me and they sure as heck don’t speak for the people of Kansas, do they?” he said, and the crowd yelled "No!"

Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
At a pro-gun rally at the Capitol, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said students marching for gun control don't speak for him.

Much of the crowd was middle-aged and older, but organizers had invited one young speaker.

“I’m here today to prove that not everyone in my generation is anti-gun,” said Victoria Snitsar, a junior at the University of Kansas who chairs the Kansas Federation of College Republicans. 

Snitsar said crime and sexual assault on college campuses are on the rise and women should arm themselves.

“I will not let myself be a victim and my Second Amendment is a big reason why,” she said.

Sexual assault on college campuses has been rising since 2011, but total crimes on college campuses dropped 34 percent between 2001 and 2015 (the last year complete data is available), according to the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics.

Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman told a personal story about the safety of his family as someone tried to break into his Olathe home in the middle of the night.

“I was able to take my .40 caliber, go downstairs, keep them at bay until the police showed up,” he said.

The rally also provided an opportunity for gubernatorial politicking. Kobach parked his campaign bus on 10th street in view of everyone there. 

Lt. Gov. Tracy Mann stood in for Gov. Jeff Colyer, who was, Mann said, hunting turkeys in El Dorado. But Mann said there were “no better friends of the Second Amendment than Gov. Colyer and I.”

Sam Zeff  is KCUR's Metro Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @samzeff.

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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