About 3,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C., Saturday, to tell government leaders the nation needs more gun control laws.
They marched on Constitution Avenue from the grounds of the U.S. Capitol to the grounds of the Washington Monument, carrying signs decrying the power of the National Rifle Association. Some carried signs with the names of individual victims of gun violence. Others signs asked citizens to remember the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. A small contingent from that community joined the rally organizers on an elevated stage.
Leaders of the demonstration warned the fight for more gun control legislation would be a tough one, but, "Look at all the changes people said couldn't happen: civil rights, women's rights, don't ask -- don't tell. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, change will happen when we work for it as a country," said main organizer Molly Smith, one of the conveners of the "March On Washington For Gun Control."
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) told the crowd: "Let us come together to, across this nation, reinstate the assault weapons ban!"
Speakers also called for limiting the size of ammunition clips and for requiring background checks for all gun sales.
After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, DC's Congressional Delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), said the onus is now on ordinary citizens to get involved. "No more moaning," Norton sternly told the crowd. "It's time to do something about it!"
At the rally, there were a few people who vehemently oppose restricting assault weapons, ammunition magazines, or requiring background checks for all gun purchases. "These [measures] will not work or make a difference," declared Steve Brown of Springfield, Virginia, who was wearing an NRA cap while listening to the speeches. What does Brown believe will make a difference in making the nation safer? "Prosecute guys who commit gun crimes."
A minister asked the crowd to pray in the direction of the White House for success of the Obama Administration's efforts to control guns. Education Secretary Arne Duncan reminded participants: changing gun laws is going to take more than prayer. "We'll do everything in our power to make sure that we pass legislation that makes our children and our families, or communities, safer," said the cabinet member. "But we can't do it by ourselves. We need all of you. If we stay together, nothing, nothing can stop us."
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