- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - About 40 demonstrators carrying pistols in holsters and with long guns slung from their shoulders took to the streets Saturday in St. Louis to assert their right to openly carry firearms.

Counter-protesters, many coming from a meeting of Amnesty International, held up signs and debated the armed protesters during their walk from a park to the Gateway Arch. About 10 city police officers, in regular uniforms, watched at one point, but didn’t interfere or follow the group, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1uWq7nU ) reports.

The demonstration, which Mayor Francis Slay called a “scene out of a bad western,” came after voters in August passed a state constitutional amendment strengthening the right to own firearms. The Missouri legislature passed a separate law that effectively removes municipal bans on openly carrying weapons.

The combination appears to make it legal for anyone with a concealed weapons permit to carry a weapon openly as well. The demonstration should “demonstrate the legality of it,” said Jeffry Smith, a Cincinnati accountant who organized the protest. He came armed with two holstered pistols and an Israeli Tavor long gun, with a 30-round magazine, draped across his chest.

Sierrah Lewis, 19, of Fenton, carried a holstered .45 caliber pistol as she pushed a stroller. Inside the stroller was a 19-month old with a plastic nerf gun toy. More people with guns will “keep the streets safer,” she said. “I think we should be able to do this.”

But Slay, speaking at a news conference, denounced the demonstration and called for stricter controls on the carrying of guns.

He said the law on guns is now “confusing,” even to police. Aides said it is under legal challenge.

“This is not Deadwood, South Dakota in the 1870s,” he said. “In Deadwood, there was no law, but in Missouri, it is the law,” he said referring to the legal ability to walk around openly carrying guns. “I don’t know what is worse,” he said.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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