- - Monday, January 14, 2013

Countering the political exploitation of the Sandy Hook tragedy, firearms rights activists and conservative groups have joined in an effort to demonstrate the continued public support for firearms ownership and Second Amendment sovereignty.

We have designated Saturday, Jan. 19, as Gun Appreciation Day across the United States, and we are encouraging American gun owners to participate. Visit our website at GunAppreciationDay.com, learn more about this event and sign our petition supporting the Second Amendment.

In the wake of the heartbreaking Connecticut tragedy, all manner of extremist gun prohibition measures have been revived and re-packaged as part of a long-standing agenda to adopt the most restrictive firearms laws and regulations possible. Despite these efforts, a recent Gallup poll taken after Sandy Hook shows a majority of Americans still do not support a ban on so-called “assault weapons” or legislation that would be detrimental to handgun ownership.

Gun Appreciation Day will provide an opportunity for millions of law-abiding citizens and their families to exercise their Second Amendment rights by either visiting a gun shop or shooting range, going hunting during a late season, or even attending one of the many gun shows or sportsmen’s shows that are scheduled on the weekend of Jan. 19-20 at various locations around the country. We encourage people to bring American flags or signs promoting firearms ownership and gun rights.

This will be an opportunity for new people to be introduced to shooting and responsible firearms ownership, and for firearms owners to enjoy activities that are protected by the Bill of Rights.

Tens of millions of gun owners have harmed nobody, and they should not be penalized for the acts of a madman. It has never been the American way to punish the innocent, yet when it comes to firearms ownership, we have recently seen a newspaper expose thousands of citizens to public scorn and ridicule by invading their privacy as licensed gun owners in New York State and publishing their names and home addresses. We have seen gun owners demonized and even threatened with violence.

Gun prohibitionists have been calling for a “national dialogue” about guns and violent crime. Gun Appreciation Day is part of that dialogue, because millions of citizens will essentially go about their typical weekend routines that just happen to include firearms-related activities. Their actions will speak louder than words.

Actually, every day in America might be a Gun Appreciation Day. Every day, somewhere, people visit gun shops and sporting goods stores, they spend time in a basement or workshop at the reloading bench or working on a gun-related project, and in thousands of cases, they use a firearm to defend themselves or their families from harm.

Firearms ownership is part of the American fabric. We are unique among nations in protecting our civil liberties and constitutional rights. Gun Appreciation Day will underscore public support for that tradition.

Alan Gottlieb is founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, and chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.