FLAGLER BEACH – About 60 people gathered along State Road 100 outside Wadsworth Park on Saturday morning, holding signs calling for more gun regulations as part of the national campaign March for our lives rallies.

Protesters lined the west side of the State 100 Bridge and waved to passing cars with signs reading “Books Not Bullets”, “Protect People Not Guns” and “Republicans Love Guns More Than Children”.

Passing drivers honked their vehicles in support of the protesters. Some drivers also waved. But not everyone agreed. A person in a van shouted “People are killing people.” And a white sedan passed with someone making a rude gesture from the open sunroof.

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A group of March for Our Lives protesters crossed the bridge before returning to stand along State Road 100 at the entrance to Wadsworth Park.

One of the protesters was Nadine Witherspoon of Ormond Beach.

“We want to end gun violence, so we’re going to do what we can to let our lawmakers know that we’re for gun safety laws that will protect our kids and each other… wherever we go. let’s be — grocery stores, walking in the mall, concerts, anywhere,” Witherspoon said. “It’s important that we have proper gun safety laws.”

Tanya Dozier and her daughter, Nevaeh, 12, are visiting Witherspoon from Pennsylvania and accompanied her to the protest.

“Nobody wants to take anybody’s guns. It’s just gun safety to protect our kids,” said Dozier, who was holding a 2020 Biden flag.

Dozier beckoned Nevaeh, who will be in eighth grade next year.

“She’s my daughter,” she said. “I would never want to send him to school and not come home and something as simple as gun safety laws would help.”

“We are tired of children being slaughtered in their schools”

Sally Hirst, president of the Flagler Beach Democratic Club, said gun laws need to be stricter.

“We strongly believe that we have to protect children and we have to choose children over, you know, what people perceive as a second amendment right, which I think has been stretched way too far beyond what was originally planned,” Hirst said. “So we’re here to try and make whatever changes we can to gun laws, or ideally ban assault rifles.”

Hirst said politicians need to pay attention to voters because many people, even gun owners, support measures such as background checks and magazine capacity limits.

The protest was part of Saturday’s March for Our Lives rallies, which took place in Washington, DC, and 400 cities across the country. Besides Flagler Beach, rallies were held in at least two dozen other Florida cities.

Doreen Leone of Port Orange held a protest in her town on Saturday at the intersection of US 1 and Dunlawton Avenue.

March For Our Lives protesters gather at the corner of US 1 and Dunlawton Avenue in Port Orange on Saturday, June 11, 2022.

“We’re tired of kids being slaughtered in their schools and AR-15s don’t belong to anyone unless you’re at war,” she said. “We are passionate about it.”

Leone was pleased with the turnout.

“I counted about 120 people,” she said. “All four corners are covered.”

She said she hoped the event would draw attention to the need for tougher gun laws.

“We hope they will pay attention to us,” Leone said. “We are trying to make some noise. We hope that will change something.”

A similar March for Our Lives rally took place four years ago after a gunman killed 14 students and three others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Protesters hold signs Saturday along State Road 100 in Wadsworth Park during the March for Our Lives rally in Flagler Beach.

29 dead in 2 recent shootings

Saturday’s nationwide rallies follow a May 24 massacre when an 18-year-old man shot and killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. On May 14, another 18-year-old gunman killed 10 black shoppers and employees in what officials described as a hate crime at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

The House of Representatives voted last Wednesday to raise the minimum age from 18 to 21 to purchase a semi-automatic rifle and ban the sale of high-capacity magazines, according to a USA Today report.

The bill, known as the Protecting Our Children Act, passed the House by a majority partisan vote of 223 to 204. It will now go to the Senate where Republicans have enough votes to block it. and it should not be adopted, according to USA Today. A bipartisan group of senators is working on other measures focused on red flag laws, mental health and school safety.

Crowds of protesters during the March For Our Lives demonstration at the Washington Monument in Washington DC, Saturday, June 11, 2022.

The rally at Flagler Beach also drew a lone protester wearing a black T-shirt adorned with the outline of an AR-15. The man, who said his first name was Justin but declined to provide a last name, carried a sign that read ‘Ban Democrats, Not Guns’.

But it far outnumbered the March for Our Lives group, which included some very young participants.

Lincoln Stallard, 7, of Washington, DC, was visiting his cousin Addison Asay, 12, of Palm Coast. The two cousins ​​carried a large sign that read March for Our Lives.

Lincoln said he was taking part in the march to end gun violence.

Addison Asay, 12, of Palm Coast, and his cousin, Lincoln Stallard, 7, of Washington, DC, held up a sign Saturday at the March for Our Lives rally in Flagler Beach.

Addison said she wanted to protect children from gun violence. She said she was worried about active shooters in schools.

” Sometimes yes. When we like the drills, it’s sometimes scary to think it could happen in real life,” Addison said.

Kelly Rosa, a science teacher at Flagler Palm Coast High School, held up a sign that read “Books Not Bullets.”

“There has simply been too much violence in our country,” she said.

She said her family owned guns, but she thinks gun regulations should be stricter.

“Ban assault weapons – they shouldn’t be sold, they shouldn’t be available to the average consumer,” Rosa said. “These are military-grade weapons. They are not used for sport or for hunting, so they are not needed in the regular population.

Writer Caroline Hébert contributed to this story.