DENVER, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Thousands of people rallied at state capitals across the United States Saturday to voice their support for gun rights.
In Denver, nearly 1,000 people took part in a Gun Appreciation Day gathering outside the state Capitol, The Denver Post reported. They waved flags, cheered the speakers, and hoisted banners with messages "Registration is the first step to confiscation" and "Gun free zones are safe havens for criminals."
"I'm worried that Obama is going to take my gun away," Alice Gohlke of Colorado Springs told the Post. "I'm not only worried as a competitive shooter but as a woman who would like to defend myself. The more laws there are, the more criminals there are going to be."
Republican state Rep. Chris Holbert of Parker told the crowd the Second Amendment "serves as a defense against tyranny, and I will not compromise on that issue."
The rallies were organized nationwide through a website registered to a "Republican New Media consulting firm" called Political Media Inc., The New York Times reported. Organizers said their goal was to "send a loud and clear message to Congress and President Obama" against gun control.
The rallies were meant to counter the move, led by the president, to impose new gun controls in the wake of a string of mass shootings, including last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and 6 adults were gunned down.
The Times said the events attracted anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of gun enthusiasts.
The Albany Times Union reported thousands showed up at the New York state Capitol. The New York Legislature this month passed the nation's strictest gun controls.
"I'll tell you what," Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, R-Melrose, told the crowd. "They confiscate our guns, they confiscate our freedom."
Rick Sauer, 53, of Binghamton said the new laws made him a criminal.
"This is feel-good legislation and everybody knows it," he said, adding, "The Second Amendment is not about hunting."
The Tennessean reported about 500 gun supporters showed up in Nashville.
"This [turnout] tells me that people here in Tennessee are concerned about not only what the federal government is doing, but also state government," Ken Marrero, a local activist who emceed the event, said.
Some in the crowd had handguns holstered at their hips, the newspaper said.
Among the signs in Nashville were: "38 special is faster than 911" and "The right to bear arms is not a criminal act, taking them is."
A similar-sized crowd also rallied in St. Paul, Minn. Isaac Ohman, 24, of Alexandria said those favoring protection of gun rights are "responsible citizens who want to defend our families."
"We're not aggressors. We're not gun nuts," Ohman said.