Following Gun-Control Proposals, Firearms Celebrated on Gun Appreciation Day

The event was intended to send a message to gun-control advocates

By Melissa Pamer and Michelle Valles
|  Saturday, Jan 19, 2013  |  Updated 6:48 PM PDT
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Gun owners lined up to buy ammunition in Inglewood Saturday, which was marked as Gun Appreciation Day across the country. A forum on gun violence at USC offered a different perspective. Michelle Valles reports for the NBC4 News on Jan. 19, 2013.

Gun owners lined up to buy ammunition in Inglewood Saturday, which was marked as Gun Appreciation Day across the country. A forum on gun violence at USC offered a different perspective. Michelle Valles reports for the NBC4 News on Jan. 19, 2013.

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In response to a renewed national conversation on firearms control following the massacre in Newtown, Conn., Second Amendment rights advocates on Saturday celebrated what they said was the first National Gun Appreciation Day.

The event, celebrated at gun stores, gun shows and firing ranges nationwide, was intended to send a message to President Obama and Congress that firearms advocates are prepared to push back against further restrictions.

In Southern California, gun owners flocked to LAX Firing Range in Inglewood, where an ammunition sale was being held in the parking lot. Lines began forming at 6 a.m., owner Dan Kash said.

Kash expected to sell 1 million rounds on Saturday.

"It keeps me working 90 hours a week," Kash said.

A gun owner who gave his name as Richard P. said he indeed appreciates his guns.

"It's part of who we are. It gives us the ability to defend ourselves," Richard P. said.

Bryan Bisbas, a gun dealer from Arizona, said he made the five-hour trip to Inglewood so he can replenish his quickly diminishing supply. Bisbas said his business has quadrupled in the last month.

"As soon as I get guns in, they're gone," Bisbas said, noting that prices on ammunition have skyrocketed.

Related: By the Numbers: Gun Violence in America

Gun Appreciation Day was started by Washington, D.C.-based group Political Media, and was modeled after Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, according to the Republican consulting firm's president.

That event rallied supports of the fast-food chain to its restaurants in response to criticism of a Chick-fil-A executive's statements opposing gay marriage.

Larry Ward, president of Political Media, said the gun events Saturday were meant to show the broader public that gun owners aren't scary people.

A co-sponsor of the event was a white nationalist organization called American Third Position. After liberal advocacy group Media Matters highlighted the affiliation, Political Media said the organization had slipped through a screening process meant to exclude groups that might detract from the event's true message.

"We have removed the group and reiterate this event is not about racial politics, it is about gun politics," Political Media wrote. "We believe in equal rights of ALL Americans in every race, gender, religion, location and economic class to keep and bear arms as guaranteed to them in the Bill of Rights."

Five people were wounded in separate accidental shootings at gun shows in North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana on Saturday.

Saturday also marked Guns Across America, which rallied gun rights supporters to state capitols nationwide. Hundreds turned up in Sacramento, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles on Saturday, a forum on preventing gun violence drew political leaders to USC's campus. "A Day of Dialogue" was part the National Day of Service, which also took place Saturday.

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