MINNEAPOLIS (AP/WCCO) — The Connecticut school shooting sparked a rally in Minneapolis Friday night centered around ending gun violence.

The group Protect Minnesota held the rally around 6 p.m. at Martin Luther King Park in south Minneapolis. Participants held candles and signs, some of which read: “guns are not the answer.”

Officials say 26 people died, including 20 children, in the Connecticut attack. It’s the nation’s second-deadliest school shooting after Virginia Tech in 2007.

“We demand a real conversation about how to prevent massacres,” said Heather Martens, the executive director of Protect Minnesota. “It’s not pro-gun or anti-gun, it’s about being safe in our own communities.”

Protect Minnesota says its goals are to reduce gun violence by cutting down on illegal access to guns and promoting measures to stop gun injuries and death, especially among children.

Protect Minnesota, a local organization, works hand in hand with other organizations in Minnesota, like Mad Dads.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney said Friday: “Today is not the day to talk about gun violence prevention.” But V.J. Smith, the national president of Mad Dads, disagrees.

Smith says now is the time to have the conversation about massacre prevention, to talk about the right of every American to be safe in their own communities, and the need for politicians to help keep guns away from people who abuse the right to “bear arms.”

He spoke before the rally, saying: “We must start now…We must continue to fight to get guns, illegal guns…out of people’s hands; but we also got to make sure we fund that mental health issue, that we help our folks who have mental health issues.”

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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