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Dozens rally to protest gun violence in West Knoxville

Moms Demand Action hosted a rally against gun violence on the corner of Kingston Pike and Morrell Road.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Dozens of people gathered this afternoon in west Knoxville to protest gun violence. Volunteers with several organizations against gun violence hosted the event on the corner of Kingston Pike and Morrell Road.

Turning grief into action: This was the scene outside West Town Mall Friday afternoon. Dozens of community members walked holding signs to rally for stricter gun laws.

"I can't imagine what it would be like to be in a classroom and see that kind of carnage going on," Nancy Copeland, with the community organization Moms Demand Action, said. "My children are teachers, I've got grandchildren going to school and that was my first thought.”

Among the crowd, were mothers, grandmothers, dads, and grandfathers. Many, former schoolteachers. All saying enough is enough.

"I'm here because I'm a retired schoolteacher. I have grandchildren here in school. I feel very strongly about what happened in Texas," Mary Thorpe said.

Vietnam War Veteran Bill Thorpe has experience using weapons and said it should be harder for anyone to get a military-style rifle like the one used during the attack that killed 19 children inside a school in Texas.

"Assault weapons are to assault people. They're not for protection. They're for one thing. To kill people," he said. "There's a difference between being pro-gun and being pro assault weapon."

He and his wife Mary say there, here for all the children going to school.

"There is no sense. I can't make any sense of it," Mary said. "My heart just breaks for them. I'm so sorry.”

Gun control is a controversial topic but there are a couple of specifics most Americans agree on. A poll by Morning Consult and Politico was taken one day after that shooting in Texas. There were 1,920 registered voters who participated. 

Results showed that 73% of people "strongly support" universal background checks and 75% support "creating a national database with information about each gun sale." It also showed that 67% support banning assault-style weapons.

The last significant change to gun laws in congress came in 1994 but the ban on assault weapons expired 10 years later in 2004. In 2012 an effort to tighten background checks following the deaths of 20 students at Sandy Hook, failed in Congress.

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