Why gun control advocates spent Sandy Hook anniversary at the NRA

Gun control supporters have gathered at the headquarters of the National Rifle Association on the 14th day of every month since the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Activists hold a protest and vigil on the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, outside the National Rifle Association (NRA) headquarters in Fairfax, Va., Monday.

About 100 people gathered outside the Fairfax, Va., headquarters of the National Rifle Association on Monday. The demonstrators are pushing for expanded background checks and regulations on gun ownership in the United States.

Protesters have been gathering at the NRA headquarters on the 14th day of every month for the past three years, in commemoration of the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Conn., one of the deadliest shootings in US history.

On Dec. 14, 2012, a 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot his mother and then traveled to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he killed 20 first-graders and six educators before taking his own life.

"It was a scene that has been repeated too often in the United States, and just as often, the response to these senseless killings has been inaction on the issue of gun control," said US Rep. Gerry Connolly (D), who was a speaker at Monday’s protest.

The activists gathered outside the NRA headquarters included survivors from some of the recent US mass shootings, including the parents of Alison Parker, one of two television journalists killed on Aug. 25 by a former employee during a live broadcast, and two survivors of the 2011 Tucson, Ariz., shooting, where US Rep. Gabrielle Gifford (D) was injured. The group is calling for expanded background checks for gun buyers and a ban on selling firearms to people on federal watch lists.

President Obama recently called on Congress to impose similar restrictions to selling to people on federal watch lists after the San Bernardino shootings, where 14 were killed and 22 injured. The governor of Connecticut announced last week that he will take steps to integrate federal watch lists into background checks for gun permits in the state. However, the idea has not gained any traction in Congress, with opponents raising concerns that people can end up on wait lists erroneously, as happened to Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) in 2004.

The NRA lobbying group spends millions of dollars lobbying to prevent restrictions on gun access. The NRA has so far spent over $2.6 million, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Proponent of gun-rights, including the NRA, argue that restrictions on gun purchases would not improve public safety and have been resistant to adopting additional background checks or other restrictions that they say undermine the rights granted under the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.

This report includes material from Reuters.

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