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Members of the Triggered Millennials gun-advocacy group pose for a picture between two trucks.

Mark Montesano commends March for Our Lives participants for taking a stand — even though he opposes the movement’s goals.

Montesano, president of the national organization Triggered Millennials, encourages young voters and citizens to voice their opinions on gun rights.

As Montesano noticed the growth of March for Our Lives, a pro-gun control movement created in response to the Parkland shooting, he and fellow pro-gun millennials decided to counter March for Our Lives’ message with their own advocacy organization.

Since its founding this spring, Montesano said Triggered Millennials has hundreds of members across all 50 states, with thousands more who support the mission.

“If we're going to weaponize children who survived school shootings against the Second Amendment, it's time we started getting people in the younger generations to start speaking up for the Second Amendment,” Montesano said.

Over the summer, members collaborated with pro-gun group, March for Our Rights, for a Second Amendment rally in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and attended a March for Our Lives panel in Philadelphia.

Triggered Millennials also tabled gatherings of machine gun users to network with gun rights supporters.

While still in its early stages, Triggered Millennials intends to “go on offense” to promote a positive image of guns and challenge gun control arguments, Montesano said.

An active contributor to the organization, Michael Csencsits said the group hopes to make all events — including an upcoming speaking series and trips to the gun range — educational and accessible to the public.

Other pro-gun organizations spend too little time and resources building the case for the Constitutional right to bear arms, Csencsits said.

“A lot of millennials don't understand the importance of having a Second Amendment,” Csencsits (senior-political science) said. “The more you know about guns themselves and the more you know about why the Second Amendment was created, the more warm you're likely to be toward the Second Amendment.”

Chief of Publications Aidan Mattis said Triggered Millennials may work with conservative clubs at Penn State to hold pro-gun lectures and instructional workshops on “exercising the Second Amendment.”

He writes informational articles for the organization’s website to fact-check gun statistics and communicate the Founding Fathers’ idea of wanting “citizens to be armed more so than the government.”

The goal, for Montesano, is to normalize guns and gun owners in the minds of millennials. During his time at Penn State, he said many students stereotyped gun owners as “ignorant and backwards,” making it “uncool” to publicly support gun rights.

He said people often fear guns because they never had the opportunity to shoot one or have an honest conversation with pro-gun individuals. Millennials, Montesano said, need to see relatable faces in the pro-gun movement — young advocates of diverse backgrounds and experiences.

“The Second Amendment isn't a matter of right or left, conservative, Democrat, black or white. It's an American, human right,” Montesano said. “One party's against it, one party's for it. That never should have happened and I'm still confused on how it happened.”

Mattis (junior-medieval studies) said everybody should have a basic understanding of guns before forming an opinion on gun rights. Without knowing how guns work and the capabilities of each gun, people easily “fall for” policies that would restrict ownership of ammunition or entire classes of firearms, he said.

Mattis agreed with Montesano and Csencsits that more millennials need to visit the gun range to try shooting so guns seem “less of a scary mystery.”

According to Montesano, all first-time shooters he has taken to the range have had positive experiences.

“They're happy that they were curious enough to go, to learn about something and not just hear a bunch of buzzwords from either side,” Montesano said. “Now they know about guns from a first-person perspective, not just ‘I saw this on the internet.’”

For Mattis, Triggered Millennials’ mission is a matter not only of politics, but allowing people to defend their own freedoms.

“There’s a lot that the government does that we find horrible, from both ideologies,” Mattis said. “The only thing that’s stopping that is the rifle on the wall.”

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