Sophia Mengel, who is 9, didn't have much to say at the "Guns Across America" rally at the Statehouse yesterday. She let her handmade sign do the talking: "At home, my Daddy is the 1st responder."

Sophia Mengel, who is 9, didn’t have much to say at the “Guns Across America” rally at the Statehouse yesterday.

She let her handmade sign do the talking: “At home, my Daddy is the 1st responder.”Pete Mengel said he didn’t think twice about bringing his whole family to the rally. They are responsible gun owners who spend family time at the gun range, and Sophia even got a .22-caliber pistol for Christmas, he said.

They drove from Loveland, near Cincinnati, to join others who wanted to spread the message yesterday that there is nothing to fear from responsible gun owners and that sweeping gun-control proposals won’t get their support.“I wanted the kids to see that you can have a peaceful protest, and make your voice heard, and make a difference,” Mengel said. “This is a constitutional issue that should matter to everyone.”

Organizers had hoped to stage “Guns Across America” rallies at state capitals in all 50 states beginning at noon yesterday. National organizers said they wanted the rallies, which came just days after President Barack Obama unveiled a host of gun-control proposals, to be peaceful shows of support. Matt Smith, from Cincinnati, helped organize the Columbus rally and was pleased with the crowd, which he estimated to be at least 900.

Several hundred people stood along High Street between Broad and State streets with signs and flags, spreading their message to passing motorists. In some places the line between the Statehouse lawn and the street was seven or eight deep. Others marched by the dozens around the block.

Crowds in most states were estimated to be in the hundreds, and no problems were reported at the early rallies. About 2,000 people turned out at New York’s capitol in Albany, where last week Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the nation’s toughest assault weapon and magazine restrictions.

An estimated 1,000 rallied at Connecticut’s capitol in Hartford, about 50 miles from the site of last month’s mass shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In Columbus, the crowd was diverse, from men in Blue Jackets jerseys and young children in stocking caps and coats featuring cartoon characters to men in business suits and elderly women who had to be helped when they walked.

Luke Longshore wore his firefighters’ union jacket and carried a sign that read: “I’m a firefighter, not a murderer.”

The 23-year-old, who works for a private ambulance service in Columbus and lives in Delaware County, brought his pregnant wife and their two young children. He carried his Remington 1911 handgun on his hip.

“America’s gun owners are not a bunch of loners living in the woods with our cameras and our hundreds of guns. We’re firefighters and lawyers and shop owners and bag boys at Krogers,” he said. “People needed to see us here today.” Information from the Associated Press was included in this story.