|1000s attend pro-gun control demo in DC||
WASHINGTON - Thousands of people held a protest march in Washington in favor of gun control on Saturday, including residents of Newtown, Connecticut, where a mass elementary school shooting reignited the U.S. gun violence debate.
Speakers -- including Education Secretary Arne Duncan, lawmakers and actors -- urged the protesters carrying such signs as "What Would Jesus Pack?" to lobby Congress and state legislators to back gun control measures, Reuters reported.
Duncan, who said one student had died from guns every two weeks while he was chief executive of Chicago's public schools, denied that gun control was about limiting firearm rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Murders in that city last year rose to the highest level since 2008, according to police.
"This is about gun responsibility. This is about gun safety. This is about fewer dead Americans, fewer dead children, fewer children living in fear," Duncan said.
Organizers backed President Barack Obama's call for a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and background checks for all gun sales. They also urged safety training for all buyers of firearms.
Marchers stretched for several blocks along Constitution Avenue as they approached the rally site in the shadow of the Washington Monument.
Participants included politicians from Maryland and the District of Columbia, including Washington Mayor Vincent Gray, as well as actress Kathleen Turner and Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children's Defense Fund.
On December 14, 2012, twenty children and six adult victims were fatally shot by a gunman -- who later killed himself -- at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in the town of Newtown in the U.S. state of Connecticut. Earlier in the day, the assailant killed his mother in another location.
There have been reports that the twenty-year-old killer, Adam Lanza, suffered from a personality disorder, was on the antidepressant Prozac, and was fond of first-person shooter games.
Every year, more than 30,000 people are shot and killed in the United States.
The U.S. averages 87 gun deaths each day as a function of gun violence, with an average of 183 injured, according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the Centers for Disease Control.
The year 2012 was a record setting year for gun sales in the U.S.
About 4.5 million firearms are sold annually in the United States at a cost of 2 to 3 billion dollars.
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