Gun rights rallies draw crowds to NE capitols
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- Hundreds of gun-rights advocates, worried their Second Amendment protections are being eroded amid renewed attention on gun control, gathered in front of state capitols in the three northern New England states Saturday as part of Gun Appreciation Day events being held across the country.
About 100 demonstrators, many standing in the snow and some holding flags and placards during Saturday's noon-time rally in Augusta, Maine, were greeted by sporadic honking horns of cars that drove by. The rally coincided with a gun show across town at the August Civic Center, where hundreds of shoppers stood in a long line to get in.
In Concord, N.H, some of the several hundred rally participants carried handguns and semi-automatic weapons during their demonstration. In Montpelier, Vt., a noontime rally on the front steps of the Statehouse drew about 200 demonstrators, city police said. Many carried flags and placards. All the demonstrations were peaceful.
Demonstrators are concerned that gun control measures being proposed in state and national capitols in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings last month could weaken gun-possession rights they say are inviolable.
"I feel every law-abiding citizen has a right to bear arms. It's a constitutional right. Nobody should try to take that away from us," said Joe Getchell of Pittsfield, Maine, who attended the Augusta rally. Another demonstrator held a sign that said, "Educate Not Legislate."
Michael Hein of Augusta said his state's constitution also guarantees gun rights.
"The Maine Constitution is absolutely crystal clear about what our rights are and how they shall never be questioned," Hein said.
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