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Tens of thousands hold protests against gun violence in US

People participate in the March for Our Lives, one of a series of nationwide protests against gun violence, on the National Mall in Washington, DC, US, June 11, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Thousands of protesters have rallied against gun violence in cities across the United States following recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York.

Protesters on Saturday turned out for more than 450 rallies nationwide, with the largest gathering taking place in Washington, D.C.

The demonstrations were organized by March for Our Lives, the political movement created by students who survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

The protesters called for federal legislation to limit the use of the military-style weapons and many vowed to fight the inaction at the polls.

Saturday's protests were a sequel to last month’s massacre at a Texas elementary school.

On May 24, nineteen students and two teachers were shot and killed at Robb Elementary School by a gunman in Uvalde, Texas, 10 days after a mass shooting at a store in Buffalo, New York, left 10 people dead.

Police say the gunman, identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, entered the school with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle after shooting his grandmother, who survived.

More than 45,000 people were killed by gun violence in the United States last year, up from 43,671 in 2020 and 39,581 in 2019, according to FBI data.

David Hogg, who helped organize the March for Our Lives (MFOL) movement after surviving the Parkland shooting, told the crowd in Washington that “all Americans have a right to not be shot, a right to safety.”

“If our government can’t do anything to stop 19 kids from being killed and slaughtered in their own school, and decapitated, it’s time to change who is in government. As we gather here today, the next shooter is already plotting his attack, while the federal government pretends it can do nothing to stop it. Since the shooting in Texas, the Senate has done only one thing: they have gone on recess,” Hogg said.

Among other policies, MFOL has called for an assault weapons ban, universal background checks for those trying to purchase guns and a national licensing system, which would register gun owners.

US President Joe Biden last week called for banning semi-automatic, assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines, or at least raising the minimum age to buy those weapons from 18 to 21. The gunmen in the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings were both 18 and used semi-automatic rifles.

A new poll by the ABC/Ipsos poll said 7 out of 10 people in the country prioritize laws reducing gun violence over gun rights.

Most Democrats said lawmakers should prioritize laws focused on reducing gun violence while about half of the Republican respondents said protecting the rights of gun owners is a higher priority.

The poll was conducted from June 3 to 4 as the country mourned those killed in multiple mass shootings, including 10 at a grocery store in New York 21 at an elementary school in Texas.

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