When the “March for Our Lives” demonstrations for tighter gun control overtook the country this spring, the media reports on the protests almost had the country believe that all students and young people wanted stricter gun control. For SFL leader Sierra Williams, this signalled a need to diversify the narrative and put the spotlight on students who appreciate and support the Second Amendment, “I saw all the news about the gun control rallies and wondered if there were any pro-gun rallies planned to show the other side. And I was disappointed there weren’t any, so I decided to plan them myself.”
And so, she started to plan three pro-gun rallies in her home state Utah, a very ambitious undertaking considering she wasn’t located in those cities and she only had one week to do it. One week to find locations and to contact the relevant bureaucrats to get the appropriate authorisation to legally conduct a gun rally that encouraged open carry. “In Cedar City, I called like seven different offices and no one knew what needed to be done because it turns out organizing pro-gun rallies is not something a lot of people do,” Sierra recalls.
Bucking this trend, Sierra decided to remain steadfast in her goal to show that there are youth who understand the necessity of the Second Amendment. “When I was in college, I didn’t have a car and I worked at the suicide hotline which closed at midnight. Sometimes I would be followed home and felt absolute terror that I couldn’t protect myself. For me, the Second Amendment means no one ever has to feel that helpless.”
Going against the grain is never easy, and she is grateful to SFL for helping her step out of her comfort zone. “Working with SFL is empowering. No one told me what to do or how to do it. Instead, SFL helped me to develop the necessary skill set to work on my own personal mission. Even when I was hit by curveballs, I knew that I had an entire organization supporting me.”
This support came especially handy with helping Sierra navigate government bureaucracy around permits. Some of the more experienced campus coordinators who had knowledge about permits gave her useful tips. Despite challenges, including advertising the event in such a short amount of time, Sierra’s events were a massive success. She was able to leverage social media through the communications training she received through SFL. The rallies got widespread coverage in some of the most impressive media outlets including the Associated Press, US News, The Spectrum (part of the USA Today network), Washington Timesand NPR Utah!
The rally at the state capitol in Salt Lake City became a joint event with Utah Gun Exchange, the biggest pro-gun group in the state, along with several other local pro-gun groups. She has since stayed in contact with them and is now a brand ambassador for the Second Amendment Institute. For Sierra, this has been one of the best results of the rallies: widening her network and giving her the opportunity to meet with other supporters. One supporter in particular, a 16-year-old high student has since started his own pro-gun group called Teens for the Republic. “He’s the next generation! This experience reinforced that education is the key to helping people fight for liberty, especially young people and that’s part of the reason I love SFL.”