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Dec 15, 2013 12:27 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Tucsonans rally for gun laws on Newtown anniversary

TUCSON - Supporters of new gun laws organized events to remember the 1-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly planted a rose bush at a community garden near Grant and Swan Roads.

"I don't think this is political," Mark Kelly said. "This is an issue that affects hundreds of thousands of families in this country every single year."

A new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal Poll shows demand for new gun laws is back to where it was before the Sandy Hook shooting. In February, 61 percent of Americans felt "laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict." The number is back down to 52 percent.

"Over time, people's interests and what they are thinking bout on a daily basis does change," Kelly said. "Unfortunately, if we don't make changes in laws affecting gun violence, we're not going to see this issue just go away."

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America organized a rally at Catalina Park near Speedway Boulevard and Fourth Avenue. The main speakers included Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and T.U.S.D. Superintendent H.T. Sanchez. Several survivors of the January 8, 2011 Tucson mass shooting were in the crowd. Jocelyn Strauss is the group's regional manager.

"I don't feel like Americans are losing interest," Strauss said. "I feel like we're at a point now, actually, where we're more educated and informed. And we'll continue growing that way."

About 100 protesters attended, many held signs reading "end gun violence."

In May, the Department of Justice released a report showing gun-related homicides are down 39 percent in the past 20 years. In 1993, there were 18,253 gun deaths. In 2011, there were 11,101. The numbers have been fairly stable the past 10 years.

At the rally, a couple counter-protesters held signs reading "go after criminals leave us alone" and "unarmed victims = happy criminals." One man openly carried a holstered handgun. He did not want to give his name.

"I was not the one that was there that killed those children," he said. "A lot of people die by car accidents. Do you find it inappropriate that you drive around in a vehicle that has killed thousands of people?"

Gabby Giffords recently transferred $300,000 to a newly formed political action committee. That PAC will give money to candidates who vote for stricter gun laws.

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