(Reuters) – Pro-gun activists who say the right to own firearms is under attack from President Barack Obama’s proposals to reduce gun violence held “high noon” rallies across the United States yesterday in support of gun ownership rights.
The US debate over gun control flared in mid-December when a man armed with an assault rifle killed 20 first-graders and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut – the deadliest of a string of US shooting sprees last year.
“We are law-abiding citizens, business owners, military, and we are not going to be responsible for other people’s criminal actions,” former Marine Damon Locke said to applause at a Florida rally he had helped organize.
Some in the crowd of about 1,000 in Brooksville, about an hour north of Tampa, hoisted signs that said “Stop the Gun Grabbers” and “Gun control isn’t about guns, it’s about control.”
Obama and gun control advocates have begun a push to reinstitute a ban on assault weapons in the wake of the Connecticut school massacre. A number of other states have taken up gun legislation, and New York, which has among the strictest gun control laws in the country, broadened its assault weapons ban on Tuesday.
Obama also called for a ban on high-capacity magazines and more stringent background checks for gun purchasers.
“Until we enforce gun laws on the books against the bad guys, I think it’s hypocritical to discuss more laws against law-abiding citizens,” Gary Schraut, a Brooksville real estate agent, told Reuters.
Across the country at a rally in Denver, the mood was defiant as about 500 people, including families with children, gathered in unseasonably warm weather outside the state capitol.
“I have earned the right to have my guns,” said Don Dobyns, an Air Force veteran and former police officer from Colorado Springs, who was among the rally organizers.
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.”