Thousands march for gun control in Washington
on 27/01/2013 11:15:39
Leading the crowd were marchers with "We Are Sandy Hook" signs, paying tribute to victims of last month's school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Participants held signs reading "Gun Control Now" and "What Would Jesus Pack?" Other signs were simple and white, with the names of victims of gun violence.
About 100 residents from Newtown, where a gunman killed 20 students and six teachers, travelled to Washington together, organisers said.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the crowd it was not about taking away gun rights guaranteed by the US Constitution, but about gun safety and saving lives.
"This is about trying to create a climate in which our children can grow up free of fear," he said.
But in the Senate, some of Mr Obama's fellow Democrats may frustrate his efforts to enact the most sweeping gun control measures in decades.
"There's a core group of Democratic senators, most but not all from the West, who represent states with a higher-than-average rate of gun ownership but an equally strong desire to feel their kids are safe," said Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
"They're having hard but good conversations with people back home to identify the middle-ground solutions that respect the Second Amendment but make it harder for dangerous people to get their hands on guns."
The Senate Judiciary Committee begins hearings on Wednesday.
Leading the charge against reforms is the National Rifle Association which wields enormous power to rally public sentiment and is a particular threat to Democrats in pro-gun states who face re-election.
Molly Smith, the artistic director of Washington's Arena Stage, organised the march, which saw supporters fly in from as far as San Francisco and Alaska.
She said she had never organised a political march before, but felt compelled to press for a change in gun laws.
"With the drum roll, the consistency of the mass murders and the shock of it, it is always something that is moving and devastating to me," she said.