US gun activists stage ‘day of resistance’ to tighter controls

Gun rights activists in the US have held a “day of resistance” against planned reforms of firearm laws.They say more than 100 rallies have taken place across the country to oppose moves to tighten restrictions on gun ownership.Protesters say the moves breach their constitutional right to bear arms.The rallies follow the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in December, which left 20 children and six teachers dead.That prompted calls for restrictions on gun use and a strong backlash from those who oppose them.

President Barack Obama wants a ban on assault weapons and wider background checks on people buying guns.’Don’t tread on me!’”I do not oppose all tightening of gun restriction laws,” says Dustin Stockton, one of the organisers of Saturday’s protests.”But what we will never accept is the government coming into our homes and demanding to know exactly what kind of weaponry we have for our natural right of self-preservation.”At one of the protests, in Maryland near Washington, about 100 people gathered.Many wore T-shirts showing a rattlesnake and the words: “Don’t tread on me!”

The symbol has been adopted by the conservative Tea Party movement, which organised this show of opposition, the BBC’s Ben Wright in Washington reports.In Sarasota, Florida, the Herald-Tribune news site estimated more than 50 people had attended.”It’s one of my rights – one I’d die for,” it quoted Terry Childers as saying.Others carried placards showing their support – including one with a picture of an assault rifle, reading: “Come and take it.”

The protests follow a week of calls for tighter gun laws.Some states have demanded mandatory liability insurance for gun owners.On Thursday, Vice-President Joe Biden gave a speech not far from Newtown, Connecticut, where last year’s deadly school shooting took place.He said there was a “moral price to be paid” for inaction over gun control laws and criticised politicians “more concerned about your political survival” than the safety of America’s children.While President Obama takes his campaign for the assault weapon ban and universal background checks to America’s cities, his opponents are mobilising, our correspondent says.He adds that both camps are now fighting to capture public opinion and persuade politicians in Congress to back them.

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