Activists are scrambling to mobilize support for the gun-control initiatives proposed by President Obama on Wednesday while opponents are signaling they’re ready for a fight.
A “Gun Appreciation Day,” the first of its kind, is set for January 19, two days before Obama’s second inauguration, a date that coincides with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, which is celebrated as a day of service.
East Texas Congressman Steve Stockman (R), who has called for Obama’s impeachment over his support for tightening the nation’s gun laws, has endorsed the date because of its proximity to the official start of the president’s second term.
Gun Appreciation Day, said Stockman, will allow “Americans nationwide to show their support for gun ownership by turning out en masse at gun stores, ranges, and shows from coast to coast.”
As opponents to the president’s initiatives prime for their day on the range, ColorOfChange.org, MoveOn.org and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee were just a few of the groups uniting supporters for the coming fight over guns.
Obama, who acknowledged his policies will be derided as “a tyrannical, all-out assault on liberty” by “pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists,” has also enlisted the help of his grassroots supporters in Obama for America.
“They’ll be all sorts of ways to scare folks to drum up something other than the conversation that we’re trying to have here.”
Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org, an online civil rights group, tells TakePart his organization will be putting pressure on corporations that support the National Rifle Association and its allied advocacy group, the American Legislative Exchange Council.
“For us,” says Robinson, “it’s about taking on the wide range of laws that allow guns to be readily available in communities around the country, and holding political leaders and corporations accountable for the ways they’ve allowed the gun industry to have so much power over our political system.”
Robinson says his group will also go after any TV networks that air the controversial NRA video that asked, “Are the president’s kids more important than yours?” The video labels Obama an “elitist hypocrite” because he opposes putting armed security guards in schools, despite Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11, receiving armed protection from the Secret Service.
“Every time conversations of gun reform come up, what we see is the NRA really take over the conversation,” Robinson says. “That hasn't led us to the kind of policies that are going to make us safer in our communities.”
In addition to signing executive orders designed to combat gun violence on Wednesday, the president called for Congress to pass legislation mandating a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun, restore a ban on military-style assault weapons and mandate a 10-round limit for magazines. He also asked for interim Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms boss B. Todd Jones to be confirmed as permanent director of the ATF, which hasn’t had someone in that position in six years due to Congress’ failure to act.
“I will put everything I’ve got into this, and so will Joe [Biden],” the president said Wednesday. “But I tell you, the only way we can change is if the American people demand it. And by the way, that doesn’t just mean from certain parts of the country. We’re going to need voices in those areas, in those congressional districts, where the tradition of gun ownership is strong to speak up and to say this is important. It can’t just be the usual suspects.”
ColorOfChange’s Robinson says he’s hoping to enlist more corporate supporters to oppose groups such as ALEC, which led the push for states to pass controversial stand-your-ground laws.
“We’re calling on corporations who claim they have no fight in this issue around guns, or corporations that actually stand with us on the right side of common sense gun laws to say you can’t do that and also be a member of ALEC,” he says.
The American Legislative Exchange Council didn’t respond to a request to comment on this story, but certainly they will be heard from in the weeks to come.
“They’ll be all sorts of ways to scare folks to drum up something other than the conversation that we’re trying to have here,” Robinson adds. “What this is going to take is organizations like mine and others continuing to hold the media accountable, continuing to hold corporations accountable for doing all that they can to be on the right side of this debate.”
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