Gun-rights activists rally in Annapolis

Several hundred gun-rights advocates rallied in Annapolis Tuesday, saying they'll work to unseat state legislators who voted for Gov. Martin O'Malley's gun-control law in 2013.

"The dragon that got awoken last year is still on patrol," said Shannon Alford, Maryland lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, to the more than 300 people gathered at Lawyer's Mall in freezing temperatures.

It may have been a fraction of the crowd drawn to the State House complex last year as the legislature debated a ban on the sale of assault weapons, but advocates warned the activism ignited last year would continue, leading chants of "freedom" and the Second Amendment's final clause "shall not be infringed."

The first of a series of speakers, which primarily included Republican lawmakers, was a 16-year-old competitive shooter named Sarah Merkle whose testimony last year went viral on YouTube and has more than 5.2 million hits. As she warmed up the crowd, Merkle made reference to last month's Columbia Mall shooting, in which a gunman with a shotgun killed two people.

"Gun-control did not save the lives of the people in the Columbia mall like a responsible and educated firearm owner would have," she said.

Another speaker at the event, dubbed by organizers as "the first annual 2A Tuesday," warned that not only would gun-rights workers work against lawmakers, they would work to defeat O'Malley if he chooses to run for president in 2016.

Gun control advocates who worked to pass the law said polls consistently show widespread public support for it.

A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Maryland's ban on the sale of 45 different types of assault weapons and their copycats is still pending in federal court.

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