- Associated Press - Monday, January 13, 2014

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) - A group supporting tougher gun laws protested Monday outside the headquarters of the gun industry’s national trade association in Newtown, where 20 first-graders and six adults were shot to death at an elementary school a year ago.

Several dozen people supporting The Newtown Action Alliance gathered outside the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The alliance said it’s protesting the gun industry’s record of selling assault rifles used in mass shootings while opposing efforts to prevent gun violence.

“We’re not saying that there’s no right to sell guns and to sell their supporting products,” alliance vice chairman David Stowe said. “What we’re saying is that these products have consequences and the way they’re marketing them have consequences.”

The rally came a day before the foundation’s annual trade show and conference opens in Las Vegas. The foundation represents more than 9,500 federally licensed firearms manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

Foundation spokesman Bill Brassare said the alliance’s characterization of the gun industry is wrong and the foundation is committed to improving public safety.

“We all abhor the criminal misuse of firearms,” he said in a statement. “We understand that emotions run strong. But it is important to keep in mind that the Department of Justice and the Pew Research Center have both documented a dramatic 30-year downward trend in the use of firearms in violent crime, even as our nation’s population and the number of guns owned by Americans has risen significantly.”

The foundation’s headquarters are less than 3 miles from the Sandy Hook Elementary School, where the 26 students and educators were gunned down on Dec. 14, 2012. The shooting massacre was committed by a gunman who had killed his mother at home before going to the school and who later killed himself as police closed in.

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