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1,537 Killed, 3,689 Injured During NRA Rally
WASHINGTON (CAP) - A rally for the National Rifle Association at a park near the National Mall in Washington, DC turned deadly this weekend after an estimated 800 people fired weapons. While investigators are still untangling the timeline of events during the massacre, one thing is clear: the number of suspects currently in custody and the civilian death toll are both unprecedented.
Gun-rights activists are already calling reaction to the incident "overblown" and suggesting the national media has "exaggerated the overall significance of what happened at the rally." NRA spokesperson Robert Graves also condemned the overwhelmingly negative and horrified reactions from the general public.
"What you've seen here today is a demonstration of the fact that we Americans love our guns, we love our freedom, and we wholeheartedly support the right to own guns and to freely shoot those guns in protest against losing them," said Graves.
Early reports from the scene indicate that the rally began as a peaceful, celebratory affair, as demonstrators cheered during a day of rousing speeches from NRA representatives and a slew of politicians and celebrities known for supporting gun rights.
Witnesses say that things began to grow dicey as the afternoon progressed, however, and the rhetoric from speakers became more inflammatory. Toward the end of the afternoon, headlining speaker Chuck Norris took the stage and gave a rallying cry, reportedly exhorting the crowd to "Shoot 'em if you got 'em!"
It soon became obvious that many in the crowd actually had brought guns with them, despite the fact that weapons of any kind are strictly banned from the National Mall.
While one attendee said at that point "most people just shot into the sky, or at trees," there were apparently a handful of individuals who took the opportunity to fire at other rally participants who had allegedly annoyed them in some way during the event, which quickly escalated into a no-holds-barred shoot-out on a massive scale.
One such man was Edwin Jones of Skokie, Ill., who told police he shot at several people who had set up their lawn chairs right in front of him at the event, blocking his view. Jones is currently being held without bail.
Another woman, who has yet to be identified, was reportedly arrested for firing her .22 pistol "at the ground near the feet" of another woman, whom she claimed had cut in front of her in the porto-san line earlier that day.
"Who's walking in front of me now? Huh?! That's right!" she yelled to reporters as she was led away in handcuffs.
News outlets are reporting that the newly-named Gun Rights Massacre has by far the highest death toll of any gun-violence related incident in history. However, some media agencies have admitted that they cannot completely confirm this, as they have recently had trouble trouble keeping track of such events, and may have missed one or two here or there.
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