The Associated Press

Thousands Rally Against Stricter Gun Control

Gun rights supporters stand outside the Capitol Sat, Jan. 19, 2013 in Phoenix during a Guns Across America rally. (Matt York/AP)

Gun rights supporters stand outside the Capitol Sat, Jan. 19, 2013 in Phoenix during a Guns Across America rally. (Matt York/AP)

AUSTIN, Texas — Thousands of gun advocates gathered peacefully Saturday at state capitals around the U.S. to rally against stricter limits on firearms, with demonstrators carrying rifles and pistols in some places while those elsewhere settled for waving hand-scrawled signs or screaming themselves hoarse.

The size of crowds at each location varied – from dozens of people in South Dakota to 2,000 in New York. Large crowds also turned out in Connecticut, Tennessee and Texas. Some demonstrators in Phoenix and Salem, Ore., came with holstered handguns or rifles on their backs. At the Kentucky Capitol in Frankfort, attendees gave a special round of applause for “the ladies that are packin’.”

Activists promoted the “Guns Across America” rallies primarily through social media. They were being held just after President Barack Obama unveiled a sweeping package of federal gun-control proposals.

The crowd swelled to more than 800 amid balmy temperatures on the steps of the pink-hued Capitol in Austin, where speakers took the microphone under a giant Texas flag with “Independent” stamped across it. Homemade placards read “An Armed Society is a Polite Society,” “The Second Amendment Comes from God” and “Hey King O., I’m keeping my guns and my religion.”

“The thing that so angers me, and I think so angers you, is that this president is using children as a human shield to advance a very liberal agenda that will do nothing to protect them,” said state Rep. Steve Toth, referencing last month’s elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

Toth, a first-term Republican lawmaker from The Woodlands outside Houston, has introduced legislation banning within Texas any future federal limits on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, though such a measure would violate the U.S. Constitution.

Rallies at statehouses nationwide were organized by Eric Reed, an airline captain from the Houston area who in November started a group called “More Gun Control (equals) More Crime.” Its Facebook page has been “liked” by more than 17,000 people.

Texas law allows concealed handgun license-holders to carry firearms anywhere, but Reed said rally-goers shouldn’t expose their weapons: “I don’t want anyone to get arrested.”

A man who identified himself only as “Texas Mob Father” carried a camouflaged assault rifle strapped to his back during the Austin rally, but he was believed to be the only one to display a gun. Radio personality Alan LaFrance told the crowd he brought a Glock 19, but he kept it out of sight.

At the New York state Capitol in Albany, about 2,000 people turned out for a chilly rally, where they chanted “We the People,” “USA,” and “Freedom.” Many carried American flags and “Don’t Tread On Me” banners. The event took place four days after Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the nation’s toughest assault weapon and magazine restrictions.

Republican Assemblyman Steven McLaughlin said the new law was “abuse of power” by the governor. Some in the crowd carried “Impeach Cuomo” signs. Protester Robert Candea called the restrictions “an outrage against humanity.”

In Connecticut, where task forces created by the Legislature and Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy are considering changes to gun laws, police said about 1,000 people showed up on the Capitol grounds. One demonstrator at the rally in Maine, Joe Getchell of Pittsfield, said every law-abiding citizen has a right to bear arms.

Capitol rallies also took place in Michigan, Montana, Wisconsin, Missouri and North Carolina, among other states.

Back in Texas, Houston resident Robert Thompson attended the rally with his wife and children, ages 12, 5 and 4. Many in the family wore T-shirts reading: “The Second Amendment Protects the First.”

“What we are facing now is an assault weapons ban, but if they do this, what will do they do next?” Thompson asked.

William Lawson drove more than four hours from Wichita Falls and held up a sign reading “Modern Musket” over the image of an assault rifle and the words, “An American Tradition since 1776.”

“I’m not some wild-eyed person who wants to fight in the streets,” Lawson said. “This is a country of laws. But I want to protect our Constitution.”

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson conceded that the Second Amendment sometimes leads to killings, but he told the crowd that the First Amendment can be just as dangerous. Patterson said news coverage of those responsible for mass shootings can spark copy-cat shootings.

“All of us here, together, are right about our liberty,” Patterson said. “And we will not back down.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    I hope some people showed up in Boston, the rules they are proposing are absurd and dangerous.

    • jefe68

      So background checks are dangerous?
      You gun advocates are really something.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        um we already have that in mass. i was referring to the new felony that would be created for legal gun owners who put more than 7 bullets in their guns. maybe you should look at whats being proposed. for example it will make it so the police chief in your town can decide if you get a gun at all. when we had that law before do you think it was ever used to discriminate against people of color? that law was rife with abuse thats why we got rid of it before now they want it back.

        • jefe68

          The proposed Massachusetts legislation would require gun buyers to undergo background checks even when they made purchases at gun shows, limit buyers to purchasing one gun per month and reduce access to high-powered ammunition.

          It would also require state courts to share relevant mental health records with state and criminal databases used to conduct background checks on potential gun buyers.

          Patrick did not propose changing Massachusetts’ assault-weapons ban, in place since 1998, which prohibits clips that carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition. New York (not MA) strengthened its ban on assault weapons and cut clip size to seven rounds.

          Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/16/usa-guns-massachusetts-idUSL1E9CG7QX20130116

          You were saying?

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            look at rep david linskys proposal then see if you can make some sense. jeff background checks are already required at gunshows in mass. the one gun a month thing makes no sense. If you read the law it makes it a crime to recieve more than one gun or magizine a month and if you do you get 2.5 years. whats the point of that? do you really think haveing more than one gun a month is the reason mass shootings happen.and can you tell me what “high power” ammunition is?

  • jefe68

    the photo shows fat white men with bad taste in clothing.

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