"It was incredibly encouraging," Watts said after the event. "It shows that Americans care about this issue. And we’re not going to go away until it gets changed."
The event -- sponsored by several organizations, including Everytown for Gun Safety and former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's Washington-based lobby group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns -- was the second such rally, with nearly twice the turnout of the previous one. The first rally was held last year, not long after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and another is planned for San Francisco in September.
She said her organization's priority is to close a background check loophole for purchasing arms at the federal level and in many states.
According to statistics collected by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an estimated 40% of guns are transferred without background checks, mainly at gun shows or through anonymous online transactions. Last year, roughly 6.6 million guns were transferred this way, the group says.
The National Rifle Assn. did not respond to a request for comment.
One of the event's speakers, Antonius Wiriadjaja, 30, an adjunct professor in animation and electronics at New York University, said he was a victim of gun violence last year. He said in an interview that he was on his way to the subway in Brooklyn when he was hit by a stray bullet from a nearby shooting.