Gun control advocates, opponents rally in St. Paul - KMSP-TV

Gun control advocates, opponents rally in St. Paul

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Gun owners across the nation made trips to ranges, gun shows and rallies on Saturday as part of the first ever "Gun Appreciation Day" to exercise their Second Amendment rights as Congress considers gun control legislation.

Yet, supporters of gun control legislation have been quick to re-coin the event "Gun Accident Day," after five people were injured in three shootings at gun shows across the country:

  • In North Carolina, a 12-guage shotgun fired as its owner unzipped its case so a law enforcement officer could check it in. Three people were injured.
  • In Indiana, a man was loading his 45-caliber semi-automatic gun when he shot himself in the hand.
  • In Ohio, a gun dealer was inspecting a newly-purchased handgun when he accidentally pulled the trigger and wounded his friend.

In St. Paul, gun owners held a rally at the Capitol on Saturday to ask lawmakers not to restrict their Second Amendment rights.

"Self-defense is a human right and guns are the most effective tool to protect one's self," said Mike Rieschl. "If we deny our kids the ability to be safe in their own communities, then we're not living up to our founding document."

The crowd that rallied claimed the Second Amendment is under attack.

"There's a lot of emotion and justifiable anger at this time -- and we feel that gun laws shouldn't be based on emotion. They should be based on facts," Rieschl continued.

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama unveiled new gun control proposals that aim to prevent mass shootings, but those who gathered to oppose additional gun control say they don't think the plan will work.

"The proposals that they have don't do anything for public safety," said Andrew Rothman, of the Gun Owner's civil Rights Alliance. "They simply harass the law-abiding gun owner."

Yet, theirs weren't the only voices sharing opinions. Leaders from Protect Minnesota: Working to End Gun Violence and their supporters gathered to call for stricter gun laws and point out the flaws they see.

"[Current] law only requires a background check at a federally-licensed dealer," said Heather Martens.

Martens says the scope needs to be widened to ensure those who should not access guns can't.

"Compared to other first-world countries where they have strong laws that regulate access to guns, we have a 20 times higher gun homicide rate," she said. "That's just unacceptable."

Nationally, the horror of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting has rekindled the debate about assault weapons. Locally, the accidental shooting death of 2-year-old Neegnco Xiong has become a testament to what can happen when guns get into the wrong hands.

"When you bring a gun into your home, it is 20 times more likely to be used against a member of the household in an accident, homicide or suicide than it is to be used against an outside threat," Martens said.

Even though both sides differ strongly on the approach to gun control, they do find common ground in supporting mental health checks for anyone wanting to purchase a firearm -- something existing medical privacy laws make difficult.

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