HARTFORD, Conn. Thousands of people have turned out at the Connecticut state capitol to call on lawmakers to toughen gun laws in light of the December elementary school shooting in Newtown that left 26 students and educators dead.
Capitol Police estimate that 5,500 people are participating in the rally organized by the group March for Change. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and state legislators are among them.
Malloy told the crowd that the shooting has forever changed the public debate over guns and "we will not rest" until laws such as universal background checks are passed.
Organizer Nancy Lefkowitz says people's hearts are broken over the loss of 20 first-graders and six educators.
Many of those in attendance were mothers, reports CBS affiliate WFSB in Hartford. They chanted "the time is now" and asked political leaders to find ways to protect their children.
Henrietta Beckman, whose son was murdered in 2002, plans to speak at the rally.
"There's no reason that anybody in this country needs an assault weapon with that capacity, none whatsoever," Beckman told WFSB Wednesday night. "Speak up. It's not a silent majority. We've got to be loud."
Some attendees said that they respect second amendment rights, but do not see the need for assault weapons or high capacity magazines.
A community forum titled "A Farewell to Arms" was held in Hartford Wednesday night where people discussed gun control as a public health crisis.
"We talk about Newtown and how many died that day," said Deborah Lewis, a member of the Connecticut Chapter of One Million Moms for Gun Control. "Did you know that there were 80 people who died that day and 80 people who die of gun violence every other day of the week?"