“Guns Save Lives Day,” a gun rights event originally scheduled to be held on the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed 26 lives, will now be held on December 15, the day after the anniversary of the tragedy.
According to MSNBC, Alan Gottlieb, the head of primary event sponsors Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), stated that his decision to move the event day was a challenge to gun violence prevention groups “not to hold political events in favor of gun control” on the anniversary.
On October 8, Media Matters first reported the existence of “Guns Save Lives Day,” which was announced by Gottlieb at the SAF and CCRKBA sponsored 2013 Gun Rights Policy Conference. During that September event, Gottlieb took a hardline stance, stating, “We are not going to let the gun prohibition lobby own December 14,” and continued, “We will out-organize the other side and show America that there is a good side to guns.”
Beyond the date change, the event appears to be going forward as originally planned. According to the “Guns Save Lives Day” website -- which warns, “Don't be a victim, ARM YOURSELF -- the event will ”honor" Newtown victims “by doing everything within our power to prevent misguided gun control laws from leaving Americans defenseless or worse victims.”
The website also indicates that SAF and CCRKBA hired Political Media -- “a Republican New Media consulting firm” that was behind the misstep-fraught “Gun Appreciation Day” -- to organize “Guns Save Lives Day.”
“Gun Appreciation Day,” which was held on January 19, asked people to visit gun stores and shooting ranges and express opposition to new gun laws. The effort quickly came under fire after it was revealed that it was sponsored by several far-right organizations and a white nationalist group.
Larry Ward, the president and CEO of Political Media, infamously stated on CNN that “slavery might not have been a chapter in our history” if African-Americans had guns. During the same January 11 appearance, he claimed that “Gun Appreciation Day” was created to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was killed by an assassin's bullet. Ward has also claimed that if Sandy Hook Elementary principal Dawn Hochsprung -- who was killed in the attack -- would have been armed, “maybe the only death there would have been the shooter's.”
“Gun Appreciation Day” was further marred by reports of five people wounded in three accidental shootings that occurred at gun shows on January 19.
Among the clauses of the petition, which is addressed to three branches of the federal government, is an affirmation of gun rights that says citizens have the right, “if necessary, to use those arms in self defense, including self defense against tyrannical government agents, police forces and armies that would over step their proper bounds.”
The petition also warns of “tyrannical and oppressive governments and their agents acting improperly under the color of law”:
Whereas, the Second Amendment was designed specifically to prevent the people's enslavement by guaranteeing that individuals not only would retain the right and means to defend themselves against private outlaws who would do them harm but also to provide individuals an effective deterrent against and a means to defend themselves against tyrannical and oppressive governments and their agents acting improperly under the color of law;
The petition concludes with a demand that the government “cease and desist all efforts to disarm or short-arm the American people by limiting and disparaging the Second Amendment.”