Thousands rally for guns across U.S.
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.
Bulgarian assassination goes awry
SOFIA, Bulgaria, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- A Bulgarian political leader narrowly avoided being assassinated during a speech Saturday when a gunman's pistol, pointed near his head, appeared to jam.
Ahmed Dogan, head of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms party, was speaking to delegates at a party conference at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia when the gunman came up to the podium and extended his gun toward Dogan, but failed to get a shot off.
A video shows Dogan appearing to knock his assailant's hand away before the two men fell to the floor. The would-be assassin was overpowered by security personnel and beaten and kicked by party delegates, The Sofia Globe reported.
Tim Harris, a South African member of Parliament who was in the hall along with visitors from various countries, said the assailant pulled the trigger twice.
The bloodied assailant, who also was found to be carrying a knife, was taken to a nearby police station, the newspaper said.
Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov identified the suspect as Oktai Enimehmedov, a 25-year-old Bulgarian national and ethnic Turk from Bourgas. The ministry said he has prior convictions in 2006 for causing bodily harm and 2010 for drug possession.
Tsvetanov said the suspect had an accreditation badge from a previous party event and got the podium without being stopped. Police were trying to determine whether he was a party member.
Dogan was one of the party's founders and has been its leader since 1989. He has been described as a kingmaker in Bulgarian politics, with his party providing key support to prime ministers Simeon Saxe-Coburg and Sergei Stanishev.
The Globe said there had been reports in the Bulgarian media that Dogan planned to step down in favor of long-time deputy Lyutfi Mestan, and said it had established his prepared speech text included the announcement that he intended not to continue as leader of the party.
Netanyahu to seek two more terms
JERUSALEM, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has announced his intention to seek a fourth term just two days before Israelis go to the polls to elect the 19th Knesset.
"I intend to be here for many more years," Netanyahu said in an interview on Israel's Channel 10 Saturday night. Netanyahu leads the Likud-Beitenu party.
Netanyahu served as prime minister from June 1996 to 1999 and was re-elected in 2009.
He is expected to continue as prime minister following Tuesday's election, which is likely to see a significant strengthening of the pro-settler faction within the Israeli government, the British daily The Guardian said.
Soldiers in the Israeli army began casting their votes Saturday night. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers will vote at army bases in Israel with some 3,000 soldiers manning 760 polling stations, some of them portable, Ynetnews.com said.
A total of 34 parties will vie for seats in the Tuesday election.
More opinion polls have been published for these elections than any other, Haaretz said, adding some 600 polls were published between Oct.18 and Jan.18.
TSA does away with controversial body scan
WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- The Transportation Security Administration said it is doing away with airport body scanners that produce almost nude images of travelers at U.S. checkpoints.
The machines, called "backscatters," will be removed from airports by June, CNN reported Saturday.
"It is big news," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "It removes the concern that people are being viewed naked by the TSA screener."
The decision came after Rapiscan, the manufacturer of the body scanners, failed to find a way to use privacy software called Automated Target Recognition in backscatter machines, the TSA announced last week.
"By June 2013 travelers will only see machines which have ATR that allow for faster throughput. This means faster lanes for the traveler and enhanced security," the statement said.
The scanners will be replaced with less-intrusive "millimeter wave" machines that use ATR software.
Passengers will still be able to refuse a full-body scan and undergo a pat-down by TSA officers, CNN said.