WALLINGFORD — The state’s largest pro-gun rights group will hold a rally at the state Capitol on Saturday in response to rallies held following the Florida school shooting.
The Connecticut Citizens Defense League will hold a “Rally for Our Rights” on the north steps of the Capitol, facing Bushnell Park, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The group’s president, Scott Wilson, said the rally is “at least in part a response to the recent gun control rallies.”
“A lot has been lost in the cries for gun control, and I really do think it’s about time that we stood together as Americans, shoulder-to-shoulder, to remember one of the great things about this country and that’s the ability to exercise our rights,” Wilson said.
The rally will have several speakers, including state Rep. Craig Fishbein, R-Wallingford, and National Rifle Association spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen, Wilson said.
Fishbein said he’s “proud and honored” to speak at the rally.
“Unfortunately, some people are misinformed as to guns and gun laws,” he said in a statement. “Unfortunately, some people blame guns for tragedies where in other instances they blame the person. I know. I used to be one of those people, but have since learned differently.”
Survivors of the Florida school shooting organized the “March for Our Lives” last month in Washington, D.C., to demand that Congress pass a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, among other changes, according to the event’s mission statement. Organizers estimated that 800,000 participated in the rally in Washington, in addition to other rallies held in cities across the U.S. A private firm, Digital Design and Imaging Service, later estimated that 200,000 people attended the rally in Washington D.C.
Wilson said his group wanted to hold the rally this weekend, rather than wait and have more time to promote it, because the mood among members is that “enough is enough.”
“We’ve been watching things publicly go the other way and it’s time,” Wilson said. “We’ve heard enough feedback from our members that someone needs to do something.”
A description of the event on Facebook states, “If you have been outraged by anti-gun propaganda rallies and blatant calls to repeal the 2nd Amendment, then this rally is your chance to speak out against those who would take your rights. Let’s swarm the Capitol grounds, and show this state that we will not give up our rights quietly.”
Wilson said Connecticut Citizens Defense League has held rallies at the Capitol in the past, but not in the last four years. About 4,000 people attended the group’s last rally, Wilson said. The organization advocates “for the right to keep and bear arms” in Connecticut and has more than 20,000 members statewide as of December 2015.
A representative of Sandy Hook Promise, a national nonprofit gun control advocacy group led by several family members of those killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, said Monday the organization had no comment on the rally.