Protesters, most of them women, gathered near the U.S. Capitol yesterday for the largest gun-control demonstration in four years, reported the Washington Post. It was an effort to force President Bush to renew the soon-to-expire federal ban on assault-style weapons. The rally lacked the star power the numbers, of the first Million Mom March in 2000, when hundreds of thousands of women flooded the Mall on Mother’s Day. Organizers put yesterday’s crowd at about 3,000.
The moms, who have joined with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, hope public pressure will force Bush to stand by campaign pledges supporting the extension of the popular ban. Said Donna Dees-Thomases, the public relations consultant who came up with the idea for the 2000 march: “That’s what he said he was going to do, and that’s what we’re going to hold him to.”
Legislation to extend the ban, which expires Sept. 13, is unlikely to move forward in the Republican-controlled Congress, the New York Times reports. Gun-control advocates hope to make it an election year issue. “I think we’ve got a real chance to change the politics on this,” said Michael D. Barnes, a former Maryland representative who is now president of the Brady Campaign. “We know we are in for a real struggle, but it’s winnable.”
The battle pits the Brady Campaign, which has merged with the Million Mom March, against the National Rifle Association. “I don’t see the stomach for it on Capitol Hill,” said Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A.’s executive vice president.
House leaders said last year that there would be no effort to renew the ban. Some senators supported it this year, tacking it onto another gun bill, but that was ultimately voted down.