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Atlanta gun control rally turns into an armed camp

ATLANTA - Early Saturday morning, on the outskirts of Atlanta, a group of sneaker aficionados gathered outside a shoe store intent on purchasing a pair of LeBron James tennis shoes.

Some of them had camped out overnight for a chance to purchase one of the 22 pairs of shoes the store had in stock.

As the sun came over the horizon, a pickpocket bent on relieving the shoppers of their money pulled a gun and fired into the line. His aggression was met by a shopper who pulled his handgun and squeezed off three rounds, striking the fleeing perpetrator with each round.

The man bloodied, stumbled to the pavement and died. The shooter, a hero to those seeking to buy a pair of James’ shoes, put his gun away and got back in line. The police are not expected to press charges against the citizen who protected the group.

Today, on the back drop of this violent weekend in Atlanta, the Mayors Against Illegal Guns held a “no more names rally against gun violence” on the steps of the Georgia state capitol. The group, funded and spearheaded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, read a list of names of people who have been killed in the country by gunfire in the last six months. The list totaled more than 6,000 names.

One speaker after another said they were in favor of federal legislation that would require strict background checks before weapon permits are issued going forward. Although solemn in their resolve, the gun-control protestors were surrounded by guns on all sides.

The announcement of their demonstration had brought out members of a group advocating a hands-off approach to gun regulation. The counter-protesters not only brought placards in support of gun ownership, many of them were also armed with handguns and rifles. This group protested to the rear of the gun-control advocates, who were boxed in with the Georgia State Patrol stationed in front of them armed, as one would imagine, to the hilt. The state patrol were stationed on all sides of the perimeter, except for the rear where the armed counter protesters were stationed.

The protest also brought out Ron Davis, the father of Jordan Davis, who was shot and killed by a licensed gun owner at a Jacksonville, Fla., gas station last fall. Davis’ killer had ordered the driver of the car Davis was in to turn the music down, when his order was not complied with; he fired into the vehicle, striking Jordan Davis and killing him.

Davis’ father said he came in support of the group’s efforts because, “It is important that no other family have to go through what we have. I thought about going to Sanford, Fla., for the Trayvon Martin trial. I didn’t want to put myself on the family like that, I know how they feel.”

Ron Davis said he has had enough of violence, and although his son died a violent death, he does not wish to see his son’s killer executed by the state of Florida.

“I have always been against capital punishment, so I am not in favor of death for my son’s killer. I have seen his family in court and I know they care as much for him as I do for my son. But I would like to see him spend the rest of his life in prison.”

When asked what he missed most about Jordan Davis, Ron Davis said, “I liked to go crabbing with him. He really enjoyed fishing for crabs. And I miss his smile; he could really light up a room.”

Ironically, the Atlanta protest against guns, although peaceful, was eerie. It drew more guns than it drew people willing to fight for gun control legislation.

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