WASHINGTON - Thousands of marchers rallied in Washington in favor of gun control on Saturday, including residents of Newtown, Connecticut, where a mass elementary school shooting reignited the US gun violence debate.

Speakers - including Education Secretary Arne Duncan, lawmakers and actors - urged the protesters carrying such signs as "What Would Jesus Pack?" to lobby Congress and state legislators to back gun control measures.

Duncan, who said one student had died from guns every two weeks while he was chief executive of Chicago's public schools, denied that gun control was about limiting firearm rights guaranteed by the US Constitution. Murders in that city last year rose to the highest level since 2008, according to police.

"This is about gun responsibility. This is about gun safety. This is about fewer dead Americans, fewer dead children, fewer children living in fear," Duncan said.

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