PoliticusUSA’s Justin Baragona was on the scene Saturday afternoon when a smaller than expected group of open carry enthusiasts descended on downtown St. Louis for a march. Per the group’s leader. Jeffry Smith, the march was supposed to be to raise awareness about Missouri Amendment 5. The law is supposed to strengthen the state’s gun laws. Per Smith’s view, he feels that Missouri’s law can be interpreted in that anyone is allowed to openly carry firearms anywhere in the state, whether or not they have a conceal carry permit. Smith and others that showed up Saturday afternoon wanted to engage people in conversation over Missouri’s law and the 2nd Amendment.
Prior to the march starting, protesters from Ferguson, representatives from Amnesty International and gun control advocates appeared on the scene. Chalk outlines of bodies were drawn on the pavement in front of the open carry group. Other protesters held up signs decrying open carry laws and gun deaths. St. Louis music artist and activist Tef Poe arrived and spoke to the protesters who had gathered. He also sent a tweet pointing out that there were children playing nearby while a group gathered with their guns on full display.
So I’m down here at city garden People have guns out with kids playing protesting for Open Carry Rights? Wtf bruh
— Tef Poe/FootKlan (@TefPoe) October 25, 2014
The march finally started around 1:30 PM local time, roughly a half-hour after it was supposed to begin. It was apparent at that point that the number of actual open carry supporters was far less than what was initially anticipated. Justin figured that there were about 25 actual marchers. There were far more counter-protesters and media covering the march.
The march went from CityGarden in downtown St. Louis to the St. Louis Arch. The mostly white gun carriers walked through the streets with nary a worry in the world. A handful of police were on the scene and followed the march. However, there was no confrontation. Also, police were dressed casually and treated the march as no big deal. This is in stark contrast to police reaction to demonstrations in Ferguson and the Shaw neighborhood recently.
Below are photos taken from Saturday’s march: