David Hogg Is Talking Face-To-Face With Armed Protesters — And It's Going Well

One protester reportedly said he was in tears by the time the conversation was over.

David Hogg Is Talking Face-To-Face With Armed Protesters — And It's Going Well

Since a man opened fire inside a Parkland, Florida high school, David Hogg and his classmates have become the most visible faces of the subsequent protests against gun violence. But now, he and other organizers of the Road To Change tour are personally encountering counter-protesters across the country— and engaging with them.

One gun rights advocacy group called Open Carry Texas attended every one of the March For Our Lives: Road to Change events in Texas while armed. But instead of being greeted angrily or pushed away, at at least one event, the group was approached by Hogg himself. 

According to tweets posted by Matt Deitsch, one of the organizers of Road to Change, individuals from the group initially heckled organizers and spouted off conspiracy theories about Hogg upon their arrival in Dallas. One man in a red hat, though, approached Deitsch peacefully — giving Deitsch and Hogg a chance to engage him in an unexpectedly productive conversation. 

"The protester asked about David, reiterating NRA talking points and conservative slander of him," Deitsch recalled on Twitter. "But only a few sentences into how he felt about David. @davidhogg111 walks up and joins the conversation... The protester is smiling so big and shakes David's hand.. convo continues..."

In that conversation, according to Deitsch, Hogg had a chance to explain that he wasn't anti-gun, that his family was full of law enforcement agents, gun owners, and registered Republicans, and added that he didn't actually want to take away the man's guns. 

Several of the counter-protesters who were there began filming and asking questions, Deitsch said, some more aggressively than others. Hogg posted a video of an almost identical interaction in a Periscope titled "registering counter-protesters to vote," though it's unclear if that video is from the same interaction that Deitsch described on Twitter. Two men in red hats and a man in a red T-shirt appear in the video, which was posted a day before Deitsch's Twitter thread. 

Throughout the interaction, Deitsch said that he, Hogg and the "most pro-2A group in Texas" managed to agree on a number of ideas: that Red Flag laws, expanding universal background checks, limiting inner-state gun trafficking, digitizing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives records and safe storage all saved lives. 

Hogg re-tweeted Deitsch and said, "Y'all know that this happens basically everywhere we go the media just doesn't like to cover it because it's Americans working together which, isn't great for ratings."

David Hogg, Jaclyn Corin, Cameron Kasky, Emma Gonzalez, Alex Wind attend 2018 Time 100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center. lev radin / Shutterstock.com
David Hogg, Jaclyn Corin, Cameron Kasky, Emma Gonzalez, Alex Wind attend 2018 Time 100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center. lev radin / Shutterstock.com

In the video Hogg posted, it was clear the counter-protesters had read a lot online about Hogg and the shooting at his high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and despite coming into the conversation with apparently opposing views. the two groups managed to talk to each other, not past each other. 

By the end, Deitsch said, the man in the red hat who had started it all "ended the unofficial town hall with an incredibly powerful moment. Through his sunglasses we could see tears building up... He gave us hugs and said something I'll never forget."

"This is the most American thing I've ever done," the man told Deitsch and Hogg. "Thank you so much for helping us understand."

Cover image via Emilee McGovern/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

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