- The Washington Times - Monday, May 14, 2001

Organizers of this years Million Mom March got a slightly lower turnout than advertised, drawing about 200 people to a march down Pennsylvania Avenue and rally at Freedom Plaza that attracted half a million last year.
Organizers said yesterdays rally, one of 33 nationwide to mark the anniversary of last years march on the Mall, was only meant to be a local demonstration, but even so, the sparse crowd in the plaza seemed overwhelmed by a sound system that could be heard two blocks away.
The event, scheduled to last until 5 p.m., peaked with remarks from D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton around noon. By 1:30, it was clear that many of the few dozen remaining were just curious theatergoers who had meandered across the street after arriving early for the National Theaters matinee of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."
Mr. Williams followed his mother, Virginia Hayes Williams, on the podium. Mrs. Williams, who also spoke at last years march, harshly denounced pro-gun activists, accusing them of being "willing to see all our children die so they can have their way with guns."
Mr. Williams took a more measured tone, but stopped short of announcing any new initiatives.
"The fact is that every gun in the hands of a young person has passed through the hands of an adult," the mayor said, "so lets stop the flow of guns from the experienced to the innocent."
The mayor said yesterday that he and Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey are open to the idea of another gun-buyback program, but have no plans for one right now.
Maryland Delegate Mark Shriver, Montgomery County Democrat, was not a scheduled speaker, but showed up at the rally and mingled with the crowd. Mr. Shriver said he plans to make gun control an important item in his announced congressional campaign next year.
"Its one of the most important issues facing the country," Mr. Shriver said. "Weve done a lot of work in Maryland, but theres a lot we should be doing on the federal level."
One of the organizers of the event, Million Mom March Montgomery County chapter President Tierney ONeil, said the goal of the event was to renew the call for common-sense gun legislation, despite the fact that legislation prompted by the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado languished in Congress last year.
She said her group doesnt want to take away guns, but they do want owners to get them licensed and registered. She also advocated closing the so-called "gun-show loophole" by requiring background checks for firearms purchases at gun shows.
A counterdemonstration in Freedom Plaza drew about half the number of people as the main event.
Armed with bullhorns and portable foghorns, the demonstrators attempted to shout down the speakers with chants of "lies" and "shame on you."
The demonstrators, including members of the Maryland chapter of the Tyranny Response Team, the National Rifle Association and Free Republic, were moved across Pennsylvania Avenue shortly before Mr. Williams took the podium, but the mayor insisted that wasnt his decision.
They criticized what they see as the fundamental hypocrisy of the Million Moms in challenging their Second Amendment rights.
"These people are the liberal elite," said Beth Caherty of Takoma Park, mother of two children, ages 10 and 11."They can afford alarm systems and security systems. But a single working mother, what am I supposed to do [for protection]?"