AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Gun advocates — some with rifles slung across shoulders or pistols holstered at the hip — have rallied peacefully in state capitals nationwide against President Barack Obama's sweeping federal gun-control proposals.
Summoned via social media for the "Guns Across America" event, participants gathered Saturday for protests large and small against stricter limits sought on firearms. Only a few dozen turned out in South Dakota and a few hundred in Boise, Idaho. Some 2,000 turned out in New York and large crowds also rallied in Connecticut, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington state.
The rallies came on a day in which accidental shootings at gun shows in North Carolina, Indiana and Ohio left five people hurt. The wounded included two bystanders hit by shotgun pellets after a 12-gauge shotgun discharged at a show in Raleigh, N.C., as the owner unzipped its case for a law officer to check at a security entrance, authorities said. A retired deputy there also suffered a slight hand injury.
About 800 people gathered for the "Guns Across America" event in Austin, Texas, as speakers took to the microphone under a giant Texas flag stamped with one word: "Independent."
"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.
Obama recently announced the gun-control proposals in the wake of a Connecticut elementary school shooting that killed 20 first-graders and six educators last month.
Toth, a first-term Republican lawmaker from The Woodlands outside Houston, has introduced legislation to ban within Texas any future federal limits on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, though such a measure would violate the U.S. Constitution.
In Arizona, Oregon and Utah, some came with holstered handguns or rifles on their backs.
One man in Phoenix dressed as a Revolutionary War Minuteman, completing his outfit with an antique long rifle and a sign reading: "Tyrants Beware - 1776."
"We're out here because this country has some very wise founding fathers and they knew they were being oppressed when they were a British colony," said another man at the Phoenix rally, Eric Cashman. "Had they not had their firearms ... to stand up against the British, we'd still be a British colony."