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The BBC's Paul Reynolds
"Their slogan is sensible gun laws, safe kids"
 real 28k

The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"Congress is still refusing to pass tougher gun laws"
 real 28k

Hillary Clinton
"We are marching as American Moms who care about American kids"
 real 28k

Monday, 15 May, 2000, 04:15 GMT 05:15 UK
US moms protest against guns
Demonstrators filled the Mall, in front of the US capitol
Tens of thousands of women joined the Million Mom March in Washington and more than 60 other US cities, urging the American Congress to enact stricter gun control laws.

Carrying placards "Freedom from gun trauma" and "No more gun violence", the protestors filled the Mall - a large park space that runs through the centre of Washington in front of the US Capitol.

I am scared for the safety of my daughter and children.

Christine O'Brian
Organisers said 500,000 women had congregated on the Mall, but park officials declined to give estimates of the crowd.

President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, joined the protesters and addressed mothers at a reception organised at the White House.

"It's not like we don't know prevention works; we know it does work," said President Clinton, in a speech punctuated by loud applause.

"We've come here in the name of the children we love, the children we have lost, the children we want to save," said First Lady Hillary Clinton.

Election issue

Twelve children die of gunshot wounds every day in the United States.

Clinton backs the marchers

One of the march organisers said that gun control was among the most pressing issues for the forthcoming presidential election.

"We strongly believe that women for the first time are going to take into consideration where a candidate stands on gun policies," said Andrew McGuire.

The president wants legislation that would require child safety locks on all new handguns, and would close a loophole that permits firearms purchases at gun shows without background checks.

He is also pressing for a ban on the import of large-capacity ammunition clips.

No ban on guns

The Million Mom March is not seeking a ban on guns, but supporters want more than the president: uniform handgun control laws that would include licensing and registration, longer waiting periods, and a one-gun-a-month purchase limit.

Moms from Dunblane
Mothers of children shot to death in Dunblane took part

One of the organisers, Christine O'Brian, a mother from New Jersey, summed up the marchers' feelings.

"I am scared for the safety of my daughter and children. We are being confronted with guns becoming a standard use of force in our schools, neighbourhoods and homes," she said.

Three mothers of children shot to death at a Scottish school in Dunblane also attended the protest.

Alison Crozier, Kareen Turner and Karen Scott lost their 5-year-old daughters, Emma, Megan and Hannah, when a gunman walked into the gymnasium at their school on 13 March 1996 and began shooting.

T-shirts carried messages against guns

Before turning the gun on himself, he killed 16 children and their teacher.

Ms Scott told the crowd that her heart breaks each time she sees another child in the US fall victim to gun violence.

"I know those angels, our angels, are here today," she said in her speech.

"They have given us the strength to fight for change."

Counter march

The National Rifle Association, which represents the gun rights lobby, has denounced the Million Mom March for playing politics with the issue.

A Dallas-based group of women, who support gun rights, is organising a counter-demonstration, along with the NRA.

The group is called the Second Amendment Sisters, in a reference to the constitutional amendment granting the right to bear arms.

The group advocates gun safety, education and self-defence.

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See also:

14 May 00 | Americas
Mothers for and against guns
20 Apr 00 | Americas
One year after Columbine
15 May 00 | Americas
In pictures: Million Mom March
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