Well, this is awkward: Some Americans are celebrating Gun Appreciation Day on Jan. 19 — two days before President Obama’s second inauguration, nine days after a teenager opened fire at a California high school, the same week as the one-month anniversary of the Newtown, Conn. school shooting and the same month as the second anniversary of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in Tuscon, Ariz.
But Gun Appreciation Day isn’t a long-standing tradition with poor timing. Nope, Gun Appreciation Day is happening for the very first time this year, and it’s a direct response to recent national conversations about gun control following a year of high-profile mass murders.
The Washington Post reports that gun supporters behind the event are modeling the program after the tactics of marriage equality opponents, such as Mike Huckabee’s national Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day in response to the backlash the fast-food chain experienced from same-sex marriage advocates. Nearly a dozen organizations, including the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, are encouraging supporters to shop at gun stores and visit shooting ranges in protest over potential crackdowns.
Support for gun control is actually at an all-time high right now, according to a CBS News poll conducted last month. Fifty-seven percent of Americans believe gun control laws should be stricter, the highest percentage in a decade and an 18-point jump from a similar poll conducted earlier this year. In April, 39 percent of Americans supported stricter gun laws. Following the shooting of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords in 2011, 47 percent of Americans wanted stricter laws.
President Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden to lead a White House task force examining current gun policies in the aftermath of December’s Newtown rampage, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults. Biden met with National Rife Association lobbyist James Jay Baker, and he also is meeting with members of the video game industry to talk about images of gun violence and work toward solutions.
Gun violence is a big enough problem in the U.S. that it’s actually become one factor driving down Americans’ life expectancy. A new report from the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine lists the the United States, with six violent deaths per 100,000 people, as the most violent wealthy nation in the world in its survey. It also has the highest rate of firearm ownership, with 89 civilian-owned firearms for every 100 Americans. The runner-up doesn’t even come close: Finland, which has less than five percent of the world’s population, has fewer than two violent deaths per 100,000 people.