KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- On Saturday, Kansas City was the tale of two cities.
At the Plaza, a rally to remember the victims of gun violence; specifically, the 17 people killed in Parkland Florida. Just 30 minutes away, the KCI Expo Center hosted a gun show.
It wasn’t much, but for roughly 30 people at the Plaza Saturday afternoon, the rally was a start.
David Schrik had a Royals Jersey specifically made for the occasion. On the back, blue fabric spelled out the word ‘Parkland’. The number he chose: 17, the death toll from the shooting there on Valentine’s day.
When asked if he though holding a sign standing on the side of a street would change anything, Schrik simply said, “Well, it’s better than sitting at home and doing nothing.”
He continued, “Because that’s all I’ve done before. So when I saw the message that there was a rally, I said, well, ‘maybe I’ll come out. Maybe I’ll meet some people who want to make a difference’.”
Schrik was the most vocal of the 30 people at J.C. Nichols fountain at lunchtime Saturday. He yelled out “The NRA is running our government!” To cars that drove by on Emanuel Cleaver Blvd.
“It starts with the politicians,” emphasized Schrik.
That is exactly the point rally organizer Henry Stoever of PeaceWorks KC drove home. “We must have effective gun legislation,” he said before the rally began.
“We are asking our legislators,” he added, “to enact new legislation that will restrict assault weapons and other guns.”
Over his shoulder, David Schrik yelled “Thoughts and prayers aren’t working!”
Thirty minutes away, Jon Sullivan manned his booth at the KCI Expo Center. The gunsmith from Joplin spoke with customers who looked at his AR-15s displayed, his MRE packets, and grenade launcher.
“My thoughts and prayers are going to go out to all the victims,” he said quickly.
Sullivan said the AR-15 is considered a “Chevrolet” in the gun community, because it can have so many modifications. He showed one AR-15 in his booth, unmodified, for $850. One that he added some modifications to was roughly $2,000. Another booth advertised AR-15s for $399.
But he is quick to defend the gun and blame the gunman. “That guy, he’s sick, he’s off his rockers. If it wasn’t with an AR-15, he’s going to find something else to do it with. He’s motivated.”
Motivation may be the key word. Organizers estimate roughly 6,000 people will attend the gun show at the KCI Expo Center this weekend. Roughly 30 people were motivated enough to stand on the Plaza Saturday.