Bend protesters take aim at NRA fund-raiser

About a dozen gather outside, urging new gun regulations

Bend protesters call for gun laws at NRA event

BEND, Ore. - About a dozen protesters who gathered in Bend on Saturday were crying out for stricter gun laws, more background checks and bans on assault-style weapons.

"Since the Sandy Hook massacre, more than 2,200 Americans have been shot by guns," said event organizer Jim Hauser.

The group held up signs for hours during a fund-raising event for the National Rifle Association at the Riverhouse Convention Center.

"They're raising a heck of a lot of money to support the gun culture, which at this point is fairly sick -- you look at 30,000 deaths a year," said protester Helen Seidler.

But some attendees of the fund-raiser said it's not the right place to protest.

"(I'm) a little discouraged, there are people out there on both sides of the fence, and we just continue to want to support our rights," said event attendee Carrie Blanchard.

Blanchard is not currently a member of the NRA but said she planned on signing up Saturday night.

She says the organization promotes gun safety and responsible ownership -- something she says shouldn't be protested.

"They support 4-H also, they support youth hunters education as well, and it's all good," Blanchard said.

But protesters said the NRA is little more than a political tool.

"They are preventing legislation from being passed by influencing our elected representatives," Seidler said.

State Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, also attended the event with his daughter on a busy Saturday where he also visited the Facebook Data Center in Prineville, joining Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.

Knopp said the group hosting the Bend event, the High Desert Friends of the NRA, is a non-political group.

"They exist solely to provide safety and education for youth and gun safety, and you would think that everyone would be able to support gun safety and gun education," Knopp said.

The protesters say true gun safety can only come with passing more laws.

"There's nothing that says guns cannot be legislatively restricted, the way many other things are restricted," Seidler said.

But ask Blanchard why she doesn't want any new restrictions or regulations of gun ownership, and her answer is simple: "It's our Second Amendment right."

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