WASHINGTON -- While plenty of celebrities will be there Sunday, thousands of ordinary Americans also will spend Mother's Day rallying on the National Mall for the licensing of gun owners and registration of their firearms.
Entertainers, politicians and mothers of children who were fatally shot plan to participate in the ''Million Mom March'' in Washington and nearly 70 other communities. While traditional gun control groups are involved, organizers have stressed that most participants will be Americans who decided to get out of the house and do something about gun violence.
''The day will be emotional and a call to action,'' said Donna Dees-Thomases of Short Hills, N.J., a wealthy suburban mother who conceived of the march after a white supremacist opened fire in a Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, Calif. last August.
Debbye Kelley-Watson of Washington, whose 19-year-old son was shot to death by a teen-ager three years ago, told a news conference on the march Wednesday, ''I am turning tears into action.''
Hillary Rodham Clinton, running for the Senate from New York, is expected to march as a mom but does not plan to address the rally. President Clinton is expected to participate, but the White House has not decided what form this would take.
Entertainers and celebrities expected to appear include Rosie O'Donnell, Rosanne Cash, John McEnroe, Emmylou Harris, Susan Sarandon and Melissa Etheridge.
The primary pro-gun group, the National Rifle Association, is not ready to concede the spotlight to images of gun control supporters pushing their children in strollers down the Mall.
The NRA has begun an ad campaign that portrays its members as mainstream Americans who want to bring gun safety lessons to the nation's classrooms.
In television and newspaper ads running across the country this week, the NRA dismisses policy disagreements as ''gun politics'' and says it will spend $1 million to educate children about gun safety.
March supporters contend that a requirement for a gun license and registration of the weapon would not be any more burdensome than a driver's license and vehicle registration.
The licensing system would require purchasers to receive basic safety training and is designed to prevent sales to criminals, children or disturbed individuals.
Guns would be registered after sellers checked the buyer's license and then registered the gun's serial number.
Among the expected speakers are Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., whose husband was killed and her son injured by gun violence. Maryland's lieutenant governor, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, intends to talk about losing a parent who was the victim of a shooting.
Participants will hear from mothers from Dunblane, Scotland, where a gunman burst into a school in 1996 and shot students in a kindergarten class. Mothers whose children attended Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., will share their stories, as will Veronica McQueen, mother of Kayla Rolland, 6, who was fatally shot by a classmate in Mount Morris Township, Mich.
Symbolizing the dozen children killed by gunfire every day in the United States, 12 young people will ring a bell created by a community-based coalition in Bridgeport, Conn. Guns given up in a buyback program were melted down to make the clapper in the 400-pound brass bell.
On the Net:
National Rifle Association: http://www.nra.org
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