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April 17, 2014

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Small group of protesters advocate gun restrictions outside SHOT Show

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Leila Navidi

Sandra Minor of Las Vegas holds up a sign during a demonstration in favor of President Obama’s new gun regulations outside of the Palazzo on the Strip in Las Vegas on Saturday, January 19, 2013.

Gun Protest on the Strip

Alex Sayadi of Henderson holds up a sign during a demonstration in favor of President Obama's new gun regulations outside of the Palazzo on the Strip in Las Vegas on Saturday, January 19, 2013. Launch slideshow »

When he fought as a member of the Kurdish guerrilla forces, he kept his Kalashnikov rifle close at all times: when he ate, when he slept. That’s how he survived.

Now he has nothing but contempt for guns. On Saturday, the 61-year-old Hamid Sayadi protested the sale of semi-automatic rifles like the A-15 used in the Newtown, Conn. shootings.

“I’m here to say that the gun is a relic of the past and we are no longer hunter-gatherers,” he said.

The Henderson resident, now retired, doesn’t see the point in guns anymore, but supports the recreational use of weapons. Just make sure the weapons are licensed, and the proper background checks are completed, he said.

Most people passed by the 20 or so protesters outside the Palazzo, near where the Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show has been on all week.

A few stopped to argue saying, “people should have the right to protect their families,” or, “you’re only preventing honest people from getting guns.”

Sayadi argued back as he held his sign in one hand that read “more guns are not the answer,” and the leash for his little Yorkshire terrier wearing a pink dress in the other.

“We need more books, not guns,” Sayadi said.

Some yelled and swore during the argument, but the passions for their respective opinions quickly settled.

“I think the country needs to have armed people,” said Shawn Curtis, of Provo, Utah, a gun enthusiast who attended the convention.

Curtis said he believes background checks are reasonable and weapons should be kept out of the hands of the mentally ill. But beyond that, it’s his right to have his AR-15.

“It’s nobody’s business what I need,” said the 29-year-old, who likes having the gun for protection.

Protesters had differing opinions but by and large agreed that semi-automatic rifles have no place in the hands of the public.

William Clarke, a former corrections officer at Southern Desert Correctional Center and High Desert State Prison said he’d like to see semi-automatic rifles banned.

“I have no problem with someone in their right mind having a weapon,” he said. “But I do think it needs to be monitored.”

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