CHICAGO (CBSMiami) – Several survivors of the Parkland school shooting have been crisscrossing the country this summer to keep the issue of gun control front and center.
However, gun rights activists have followed close behind, sometimes holding counter-rallies. Both sides say they will make their presence known in a big way at the polls this November.
David Hogg has spent his first summer out of high school leading rallies from coast to coast. He’s one of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shooting that left 17 people dead. Still, he says he supports the 2nd Amendment.
“It’s okay if you own a gun. My father’s a gun owner. Before I went on this tour, to learn about gun safety, I disassembled and assembled his gun,” he told a crowd of supporters.
Hogg and his fellow students want what they call common sense gun laws, including universal background checks and a ban on semi-automatic assault rifles.
“If you’re shooting someone from 16 hundred feet away, you aren’t defending yourself, you’re hunting and that’s the plain truth and it’s time that Americans realize that,” said Hogg.
At every tour stop, they’re registering voters – hoping to change the balance of power in Washington.
A recent Gallup poll credited the efforts of Parkland students for a drop in Democrats supporting the NRA.
Gun rights activists are pushing back, hosting their own rallies around the country.
“I plan on owning a gun for self-defense to defend me and my family,” said high school student Anthony Bartosiewicz who attended the rally.
Rick Travis leads the California Rifle and Pistol Association.
“Voters who care about the Second Amendment are very excited coming into these midterms,” said Travis.
Travis’ organization focuses on training and safety and in their classes no live firearms are allowed.
“That way we are teaching safety, along with teaching instruction in the class and I’m not having to worry about someone with a loaded firearm,” he said.
With the start of the new school year, Florida will be bringing more guns onto campuses in the hands of a new army of public safety officers, armed to protect students from mass shootings.