Happiness is Warm Gun A day before U.S. President Barack Obama is sworn into his second term and commences with inauguration day festivities, there will be a celebration of a strikingly different mood. A celebration of guns.
In a stated celebration of the Second Amendment, Jan. 19 will be the first national Gun Appreciation Day. It falls barely a month after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and in the midst of a renewed debate on gun legislation.
“We felt like we had to do something strong,” said Larry Ward, spokesman for Gun Appreciation Day.
According to a flyer available on the Gun Appreciation Day website, the occasion is a chance for gun owners to frequent their local gun shops “with your Constitution, American flags and your Hands Off My Guns sign to send a loud clear message to Congress and President Obama.”
“To go out to their local gun range, gun shop,” explained Ward. “To fire a few bullets, buy a few bullets—if there are any left.”
Maria Roach, founder of United for Change, USA, describes the notion of Gun Appreciation Day as “horrendous” and “beyond the pale.” Her group has started a petition opposing the appreciation day.
“I think people are disgusted with the theater,” Roach said, pointing out that the appreciation day also falls on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day-weekend. “—this is the man that preached non-violence and was assassinated with a rifle.”
While acknowledging the theatrical perception, Ward said the gun celebration wasn’t timed to coincide with anything other than the threat of tighter gun legislation.
“If we take President Obama and Vice President Biden at their word, they’ll pass gun legislation by the end of the month,” he said. “The timing wasn’t necessarily to do this right before Inauguration Day—although I’m not above making a statement—but the timing has more to do with Diane Feinstein’s legislation.”
In the wake of the Sandy Hook killings, Vice President Biden has headed up a gun violence task force. Feinstein has proposed legislation banning assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines.
“We’re gonna lose a big chunk of our rights,” Ward said.
Due to unprecedented gun sales following Obama’s 2008 presidential victory, Outdoor Wire named the president Gun Salesman of the Year. Following Obama’s recent reelection, the number of criminal background checks on prospective gun buyers shattered the 2 million-mark for the first time in November; it climbed even higher, to 2.7 million, in December.
Roach believes the spike in gun sales, as well as the general tone of the voices speaking against new gun legislation, grows out of a national climate of fear.
“Americans have been fed a diet of fear, especially after 9/11,” she said. “The Limbaughs and the Becks realize that fear sells.”
Whatever the reason, Ward is hoping for a big turnout on Gun Appreciation Day. On an event flyer, people are encouraged to participate “Chick-fil-A style.”
“The Chick-fil-A model, I think, is appropriate,” Ward said, referencing the 2012 Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, during which customers showed their support of Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s comments concerning gay marriage. “It gave the congressmen kind of a headcount.”