BISMARCK — A gun control group will hold a rally in West Fargo Sunday afternoon, Aug. 25, to urge members of Congress to act after mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.
The local group for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America will hold the rally at 3 p.m. in River's Bend Park. It will come about a week after similar events across the country sought to persuade lawmakers during their August recess.
Cheryl Biller, the group's state chapter lead, said they're focusing on pressuring North Dakota's Republican senators because the Democratic-led House already passed legislation earlier this year imposing new background check requirements for firearm transfers between private parties. They're also asking lawmakers to support so-called "red flag" legislation to keep guns away from people who have been deemed dangerous.
"Our intent is just to keep pressure on the senators to try and get them to do the right thing," Biller said.
Biller said Sunday's rally will be the first one led by the local group since it formed after last year's high school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
The event will also come less than two weeks before the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take up several gun bills. North Dakota Republican Rep. Kelly Armstrong, a member of that committee, said this week he had not yet seen the legislation.
Sen. Kevin Cramer welcomed an "open discussion" on gun reform.
"But our Constitution is clear: we have fundamental rights to due process and to keep and bear arms, and we cannot trample on one set of rights thinking we are going to somehow restore peace," he said in a statement.
In a statement, Sen. John Hoeven highlighted legislation already signed into law to prevent school violence and to update the background check system.
"We all want to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals," he said. "Any new proposal needs to protect constitutional rights, both the Second Amendment and due process."
Biller acknowledged proponents of gun reform face an uphill battle in conservative North Dakota, where the Republican-controlled Legislature easily defeated a red flag bill this year. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has sent mixed signals on potential policy changes since the recent shootings.
But Biller hoped the back-to-back shootings that left 31 dead would spur a response.
"We are hoping to bring all of that anger to turn it into action," she said.