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Sporting a shirt that read, “Girls with guns,” 31-year-old Jennifer Burk said: “My parents didn’t raise a victim and the government shouldn’t try and make me one.”
Gun control advocates say U.S. civilians have no justifiable need for assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, and they say more background checks will help keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
The reaction has been fierce from gun supporters such as the National Rifle Association, who point to a right to bear arms that is enshrined in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and which they do not want to see watered down.
Saturday’s rallies were organized by Guns Across America, a group launched by Texas airline pilot Eric Reed, who has said that after he heard Obama talk about gun control on the day of the Connecticut massacre he thought gun owners should send a strong message to lawmakers in Washington.
As of Saturday afternoon, the Facebook page for Guns Across America listed more than 20,000 people saying they intended to attend events planned mostly in state capitals. Local media reported hundreds of people gathered at rallies nationwide, from Kentucky to Oregon to Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Gun-control advocates on Sunday plan to hold a National Gun Prevention Sabbath, where they say 150 houses of worship will call on the faithful to advocate for an “actionable plan to prevent gun violence.”
People who have lost loved ones to gun violence will display their photographs, organizers said.