Million 'Moms' to protest over guns

With the Capitol just far enough away to be framed by a camera lens, Washington's National Mall awaits the next event of the marching season. Timed for American Mother's Day tomorrow, the "Million Mom March" is at hand.

Its object? To protest against the unconscionable tally of juvenile gun deaths. And while the "Moms" know they are not in the league of the epic Million Man civil rights march, they hope for a turnout of 200,000.

The actress Susan Sarandon will speak; the First Lady, Hillary Clinton, will march, as will popular television talk show host Rosie O'Donnell. Proceedings will be opened by Mrs Nana Williams, a prominent local personality since her adopted son, Tony, became the city's first mayor to be elected from both sides of the city's racial divide.

The MMM in Washington is to be replicated in several dozen towns and cities across America, as the gun-control lobby tries to mobilise itself as a force as united and determined as its adversary-in-chief, the National Rifle Association.

The "Moms" have a specific agenda they call "common sense gun policy" - they want Congress to pass the loophole-closing legislation on gun control stalled for nine months largely thanks to NRA efforts.

They want all gun-owners are licensed and all firearms registered. In the US, such an agenda is seen as an ambitious challenge to the status quo and the power of vested interests, the NRA, plus the millions of Americans who staunchly defend what they regard as their Second Amendment Constitutional right, to keep a firearm.

The NRA has pummelled the "Million Moms" in TV adverts for weeks, and spawned the "Second Amendment Sisters - Armed Informed Mothers", to stage a counter- demonstration on the MMM's sidelines, advocating a woman's right to self-defence, if need be with a gun.

A year ago, a Million Mom March might have shamed the country and projected the issue into Vice-President Al Gore's election campaign. But the public indignation unleashed by Columbine, and latterly by the fatal shooting of a six-year-old by a classmate, has subsided.

The "Moms" will have their day. But short of a new suburban horror the moment for turning gun control into a national crusade before the presidential election has passed.

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