Thousands of American activists — some carrying carrying rifles and pistols — gathered peacefully Saturday at state capitals across the country for rallies promoting gun rights, as the U.S. government considers new restrictions on firearms.
Rallies stretched from New York and Connecticut to South Dakota, Texas, Alabama, Arizona and Oregon — in some places drawing dozens of people and others attracting several thousand demonstrators. Separately, authorities say five people were injured at gun shows in three separate states when firearms accidentally discharged.
Activists used social media to promote the “Guns Across America” rallies, which were fashioned as a response to new gun control proposals unveiled this week by President Barack Obama.
In Austin, Texas, some 600 demonstrators converged on the state capitol grounds to protest the Obama proposals and, in some cases, show their antipathy toward the president with signs and banners. An estimated 1,000 gun rights activists gathered in the capital of Tennessee and 2,000 more showed up in the New York state capital.
In Hartford, Connecticut, police said about 1,000 gun advocates rallied, with at least one man carrying an assault rifle nearly identical to the type used by a lone gunman in December to kill 20 children and six adults in nearby Newtown.
The Associated Press said the man carried an AR-15 assault weapon and wore a green and white ribbon on his lapel — the colors of the Newtown elementary school where the massacre took place.
Earlier Saturday, President Obama used his weekly radio address to tell the public his administration is taking “a series of steps” to protect America's children from gun violence. He said those actions include strengthening the existing system of background checks for potential gun buyers, and pressing for new research on ways to reduce gun violence.