A conservative group is hoping that tens of thousands turn out to show their support for gun ownership with their pocketbooks and picket signs the day before President Barack Obama is sworn in for a second term.
The group, a coalition brought together for the event, declared Jan. 19 "Gun Appreciation Day." The hope is Americans nationwide will show their support for gun ownership by turning out en masse at gun stores, ranges and shows from coast to coast.
“The Obama administration has shown that it is more than willing to trample the Constitution to impose its dictates upon the American people,” said Gun Appreciation Day chairman Larry Ward in a press release.
The day comes as the gun control debate becomes more divisive. Earlier this month, two PA lawmakers released statements about sponsoring legislation that would allow teachers to carry guns in schools, in response to December's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
On Wednesday, Obama signed 23 executive actions aimed at curtailing gun violence and called on Congress to make tougher punishments for gun trafficking and place limits on magazine sizes.
Clayton's Hunting and Fishing in Horsham does not have any special events planned for Saturday, but the staff at the shop welcome any opportunity that allows them to stand up for their customers' Second Amendment rights.
"They are addressing the epidemic of violence and the mental health problems in this country by passing laws against inanimate objects," said Ed Hartzel, instruction range master at Clayton's. "All they are doing is turning law-abiding citizens into criminals overnight. That's working further away from a real solution."
In the past year, several high-profile mass shootings -- including one in a Colorado movie theater and one at a Wisconsin Sikh Temple -- sparked the gun control debate. According to a New York Times article, Obama called for Vice President Joe Biden to head a gun control task force.
Hartzel says the intense scrutiny over firearms has translated into more traffic in the store as gun owners add to their collections before more restrictions are in place. He says Clayton's sold more than 1,000 guns in the past 30 days, and there are days that see several hundred visitors to the shop's gun range.
"The average concensus is that when they see their freedoms being threatened," said Hartzel, "they are going to run out and get the guns before they are not available anymore. This isn't about duck hunting or deer hunting, that's not what is in the Constitution. This is about having the right to protect ourselves."
The "Appreciation Day" is modeled after this past summer's " the answer to a boycott of the fast food chain after CEO Dan Cathy declared his support of what he termed "traditional marriage." According to ABC News, Chick-Fil-A posted record-setting sales during the "Appreciation Day."
A counter event has also been formed by a group called Parents Against Gun Violence (PAGV), which has declared January 19 Child Appreciation Day.
"Organizing a 'gun appreciation day' so soon after the Newtown Massacre is in poor taste. In response we have decided to promote a 'Child Appreciation Day' to honor our children and the victims of Newtown," said Jennifer Caldera, a member of the PAGV Steering Committee, in a statement to the press.
Gun Appreciation Day is scheduled the day before Obama's second inauguration.
The planned event currently includes the following coalition members:
- Second Amendment Foundation
- Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
- Special Operations Speaks
- Revolution PAC
- Citizens and Country
- Social Security Institute
- Committee to Draft Judge Andrew Napolitano
- Conservative Action Alerts
- Women Warriors PAC
- Conservative Action Fund
- Political Media, Inc.