Just four days after the March for Our Lives protests were held across the country in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, some residents of a Michigan suburb took to the streets again to protest the annual “Build Your Own AR-15” class at a local VFW hall.
The class, run by a local gun dealer, sparked about two dozen protesters to descend on VFW hall 4073 which hosted the event in Marshall, Mich. on Tuesday.
This is the third year that the class is being held in the space, and the recent protests and gun law debates didn’t stop it from moving forward.
“We did consider [canceling], but owing to the great response we were getting, we decided to go ahead with it,” John Delaney, the quartermaster of the lodge, told ABC News.
The class is run by Chris Walden, who owns a gun business in nearby Battle Creek. There are four monthly sessions where enrollees buy the various parts and build their own AR-15s.
He said that the timing was unfortunate in the wake of the Parkland shooting but that shouldn’t stop people from buying, or building, guns.
“It’s a horrible event that happened in Florida. We feel really bad about that but the gun did not commit this crime. The individual who was failed by the system committed this crime,” Walden told ABC News.
Walden, a Marine Corps veteran, said that “the entire class is about responsible gun ownership” and that’s something that people “really need now more than ever before in our country.”
“It’s an important time to stand up for the Second Amendment which provides the ability for all the other amendments to exist,” he told ABC News.
Delaney said that he was present for the class on Tuesday but wasn’t planning to attend the rest of the sessions this year, having already participated twice before. He said that there were about 60 people who attended the class on Tuesday, which he said was “a little bigger” than past classes, and there were 24 people who protested peacefully outside.
“I knew several of the people over on the other side of the fence there and we had a couple ladies from the protest come in and talk to us and ask questions,” he said. “It was kind of, I’d say, productive.”
One of the protesters, Pam Daume, told WWMT that the timing of the event was disrespectful to the victims of school shootings.
“The event is disgusting,” Daume told WWMT. “It’s a slap in the face to all of the children who have died.”