— WASHINGTON (AP) — Thousands of people, many holding signs with names of gun violence victims and messages such as "Ban Assault Weapons Now," joined a rally for gun control on Saturday, marching from the Capitol to the Washington Monument.
Participants were led by Mayor Vincent Gray and other officials Saturday morning, and the crowd stretched for about two blocks along Constitution Avenue. Police blocked off half the road.
Participants held signs reading "Gun Control Now" and "Stop NRA," among other messages. Other signs were simple and white, with the names of victims of gun violence.
About 100 residents were expected from Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six teachers at a school in December. The rally was organized in response to that shooting.
Once the crowd arrived at the monument, speakers called for a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the crowd it's not about taking away Second Amendment gun rights, but about gun safety and saving lives. He said he and President Barack Obama would do everything they could to enact gun control policies.
"We must act, we must act, we must act," Duncan said.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.'s non-voting representative in Congress, said the gun lobby can be stopped. The crowd chanted back, "Yes, we can."
Norton said the nation didn't act after previous mass killings, but she said "we the people," won't give up this time.
"We are all culpable if we do nothing now," Norton said
Participant Kara Baekey of Norwalk, Conn., said that when she heard about the Newtown shooting, she immediately thought of her two young children. She said she decided she must take action, and that's why she joined the march.