US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Why 'Gun Appreciation Day' is a step in the wrong direction

By Scott Alessi | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Don't shoot the messenger, but in case you haven't heard: Activists in favor of gun ownership rights have declared January 19 to be National Gun Appreciation Day. The event is planned for the weekend of President Barack Obama's inauguration and is intended to send a message to the president and Congress about opposition to plans for stronger gun control laws.

I understand the complexity of the gun control issue and the fact that many Americans think that limiting their access to lethal weapons is a violation of their constitutional rights. I understand that many gun owners wear that label with the utmost pride and feel that their gun collections are part of what makes them American. And I know that efforts on the part of lawmakers to curb gun violence by restricting ownership of and access to guns will always be a touchy political issue.

But a day celebrating the ownership of guns? Coming at a time when the nation is still reeling from a string of tragic shootings, the most recent of which included the horrific deaths of 20 children, a celebration of gun ownership isn't just in poor taste, it is counterproductive. Even those who believe that guns aren't to blame shouldn't be championing their use at this point.

Rather than paying tribute to their firearms, perhaps gun rights activists could have planned a tasteful tribute to the victims of gun-related violence over the last year. Or they could have called for a symposium to discuss ways to promote safety and limit such senseless violence, bringing the two sides together for a real discussion on how to balance Second Amendment rights with efforts to end the terrible string of shootings seen in the U.S. (an initiative that the U.S. bishops have already come out in favor of).

But instead, gun supporters are called upon to head out to the shooting range or even to buy more weapons. I'm not against allowing responsible Americans to do those things, but is now really the time to call for a national day celebrating them just to send a political message? Isn't the message we're sending to those families who lost a loved one in the last year due to a shooting what we should really be concerned with?

If you don't want any part of Gun Appreciation Day, don't worry, there's another way to spend January 19. That's also the National Day of Service, an opportunity to go out into your community and help others. At least one celebration on that day is something our nation sorely needs.

Image by M Glasgow cc via Flickr