ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Rep. Jim Moran (D., Va.) compared gun violence in America to "domestic terrorism" and 9/11 at a gun control rally Saturday.
Speaking at a rally set up by Organizing for Action and several other gun control groups, Moran said gun violence was terrorizing America.
"I think what we’re dealing with here is in many ways a form of domestic terrorism," Moran told the audience of roughly 120. "Really. I mean directly and indirectly, this is what is really terrorizing our country."
"Think about this," said Moran, who has an F-minus rating from the National Rifle Association. "Think about the reaction we had to 9/11, which in so many ways was entirely appropriate because it was so shocking. But what is happening in our schools and streets and our communities is shocking as well."
Staying on the theme of terrorism, Moran pointed to a recent video that surfaced of al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn discussing how easy it is to buy guns in the America.
"America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms," Gadahn said in the video. "You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?"
While machine guns are legal to own in the United States, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms heavily regulates them and no new machine guns have been legally manufactured in or imported to the country since 1986.
Moran also warned of people on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s terrorist watch list buying guns.
"In more than 1,000 cases, people who are on that terrorist watch list tried to buy firearms, and in 91 percent of the cases, the FBI was powerless to stop them," Moran said.
Civil liberties advocates have criticized the watch list for its secrecy. The list is not public, nor can one petition to have his name removed from it. There were about 420,000 names on the watch list as of 2011.
After telling the audience that al Qaeda members were buying machine guns and .50 caliber rifles capable of punching through the fuselage of an aircraft from a mile away, Moran said: "I don’t want to be fear mongering here, but think about how far this has gone and how irrational it is."
The rally was held in the public square in front of Alexandria City Hall to demand Congress pass "common sense" gun legislation, such as universal background checks, bans on high-capacity magazines, and a renewed federal assault weapons ban.
The Senate voted 68-31 on Thursday to start the debate on gun legislation, and groups from both sides of the debate have been rallying the troops.
The event was part of a nationwide series of rallies organized by Concerned Citizens Against Gun Violence, Organizing for Action, and Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
The crowd, most of who appeared to be baby boomers, wore yellow stickers reading, "Background checks save lives."
The rally ended with a candlelight vigil and the singing of "We Shall Overcome," which this reporter has also heard at protests against the Keystone XL Pipeline and a commemoration of dead Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.
After one chorus of the traditional lyrics, the singer led the audience through, modified version: "Pass gun legislation now today."
Two men who appeared to be intoxicated briefly interrupted the rally by shouting, "Second Amendment!" The police escorted the two men from the square shortly after a minor altercation with a television news crew.