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Hundreds in Sacramento protest proposed gun restrictions

January 19, 2013 |  3:47 pm

Hundreds rallied in front of the Capitol in Sacramento on Saturday to protest efforts to restrict gun ownership in California and across the country.

The protest was one of dozens held at state capitals nationwide as politicians push new gun laws in the wake of the mass killing in Newton, Conn., in December.

“They keep adding more and more laws,” said Wes Holst, who hosts a radio show about guns in Santa Cruz. “More laws don’t prevent crime.”

Some people waved flags or hoisted signs saying “hands off my guns” and “gun laws don’t stop criminals bullets do,” and many spoke fearfully of restrictions they say would leave them defenseless against criminals or even a government they view with suspicion.

California has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, and there were no firearms to be seen at Saturday’s rally. A few people wore empty holsters.

Daniel Silverman, an information technology consultant who lives in Tracy, said he organized the Sacramento event as part of a grassroots campaign called Guns Across America. He said the rally was not connected to Gun Appreciation Day, which was started by a Republican consulting firm based in Washington. 

He said politicians have unfairly singled out firearms as the cause of violence. A gun, he said, is only “a piece of plastic, aluminum and steel that does no harm in the hands of good men and women.”

Christina Marotti, 33, of East Sacramento brought her two daughters, ages 2 and 4, to the rally. One had a sign saying “my mom loves guns” and the other had a sign saying “arm my teacher.”

“Wherever you take away the right to have guns, the crime rate increases,” she said. “As a mother, that scares me.”

In schools, she said, “our kids are open game.”

Several protesters and speakers said guns were a key part of their personal freedom.

“We’re not fighting for our right to be sportsmen,” said Jonathan Zachariou, a pastor in Davis. Guns, he said, are the “best way to suppress tyranny.”

Dave Karleskint, 42, of Colfax said the 2nd Amendment ensures “the ability to overthrow the federal government when needed,” such as if “goon squads” start confiscating weapons. He clarified that “we’re not there yet.”

Frank James, 54, of Nevada City said the Constitution not only allows ownership of military-style weapons, but encourages it.

“People who don’t own one are backing off their duty to the Constitution,” he said. “It leaves our country less defensible.”

He held a sign saying “a man with a gun is a citizen” and “a man without a gun is a subject.”

Since the shooting in Newtown, some California lawmakers have announced proposals for new restrictions. For example, Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) wants to require a $50 permit for residents to buy ammunition.

Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), who spoke at the rally, said he would argue against new restrictions.

“God love our law enforcement, they can only do so much,” he said. “We have to protect ourselves.”


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-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the last name of Christina Marotti.