A plan for stricter gun controls by U.S. President Barack Obama, marking the start of his second term in office on Sunday, was the focus of peaceful yet passionate weekend protests.
Gun advocates — some with rifles slung across shoulders or pistols holstered at the hip — rallied peacefully in state capitals nationwide on Saturday. Summoned via social media for the Guns Across America event, participants gathered for protests large and small against stricter limits sought on firearms.
Some 2,000 turned out in New York and large crowds also rallied in Connecticut, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington state. Only a few dozen turned out in South Dakota and a few hundred in Boise, Idaho.
Obama, who was being sworn in on Sunday, 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.
5 hurt in accidental shootings
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.
In Austin, Texas, 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.
In Arizona, Oregon and Utah, some came with holstered handguns or rifles on their backs.
In New York's state capital of Albany, about 2,000 people turned out for a chilly rally.
The event took place four days after the state's Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the toughest assault weapon and magazine restrictions in the U.S. In Texas, Houston resident Robert Thompson attended the rally with his wife and children, ages 12, 5 and 4.
"What we are facing now is an assault weapons ban, but if they do this, what will do they do next?" Thompson asked.