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Thousands rally for Second Amendment rights

| Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, 9:18 p.m.
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A woman displays her rifle to fellow demonstrators during a pro-gun rally on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 in Olympia, Wash. The Guns Across America national campaign drew thousands of protesters to state capitols, including over 1,000 in Olympia. Getty Images
REUTERS
Scott Lowell takes part in the the Guns Across America pro-gun rally at the state Capitol in Denver on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. REUTERS

AUSTIN — Thousands of gun advocates gathered peacefully on Saturday in state capitals across the United States to rally against stricter limits on firearms, with demonstrators carrying rifles and pistols in some places while those elsewhere settled for waving hand-scrawled signs or screaming themselves hoarse.

The size of crowds at each location varied — from dozens of people in South Dakota to 2,000 in New York. Large crowds also turned out in Connecticut, Tennessee and Texas.

Some demonstrators in Phoenix and Salem, Ore., came with holstered handguns or rifles on their backs. At the Kentucky Capitol in Frankfort, attendees gave a special round of applause for “the ladies that are packin'.”

Activists promoted the Guns Across America rallies primarily through social media. They were being held just after President Obama presented a sweeping package of federal gun-control proposals.

The crowd swelled to more than 800 amid balmy temperatures on the steps of the pink-hued Capitol in Austin, where speakers took the microphone under a giant Texas flag with “Independent” stamped across it. Homemade placards read “An Armed Society is a Polite Society,” “The Second Amendment Comes from God” and “Hey King O., I'm keeping my guns and my religion.”

“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.

Toth, a first-term Republican lawmaker from The Woodlands outside Houston, has introduced legislation banning within Texas any future federal limits on assault rifles or high-capacity magazines, though critics say such a measure would violate the Constitution.

Rallies at statehouses nationwide were organized by Eric Reed, an airline captain from the Houston area who in November started a group called More Gun Control = More Crime. Its Facebook page has been “liked” by more than 17,000 people.

At the New York state Capitol in Albany, about 2,000 people turned out for a chilly rally, four days after New York's Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the nation's toughest assault weapon and magazine restrictions.

Meanwhile, accidental shootings at gun shows in North Carolina, Indiana and Ohio left five people injured Saturday.

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