(CNSNews.com) – Larry Ward, chairman of Gun Appreciation Day, told CNN that if blacks had been given the “right to keep and bear arms” since the country’s inception, “perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.”
“The truth is – I think Martin Luther King would agree with me if he were alive today – that if African-Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history, and I believe wholeheartedly that it’s essential to our liberty,” Ward said.
Gun Appreciation Day was started by a coalition of gun rights groups and encourages people on Jan. 19, to “go to your local gun store, gun range, or gun show with your Constitution, American flags and your ‘Hands off my Guns’ sign to send a loud and clear message to Congress and President Obama,” according to the group’s website.
Maria Roach, founder of United for Change USA, which has launched a petition in opposition to Gun Appreciation Day which will be sent to the National Rifle Association, called Ward’s assessment on slavery and gun rights “ridiculous.”
“Slavery means that you are a possession. Slaves were a possession just like a gun, so to say that if slaves had been armed, first that’s theater,” she said, adding that while it’s Ward’s right to hold such an event, “you didn’t speak to anyone about it.”
Roach accused Ward of having a “selfish, self-serving intent” and questioned the event’s timing, two days before the King holiday. King’s birthday is commemorated on Jan. 21.
“If you speak to – and I’ve spoken to many people, thousands of people – they are outraged that you would plan your event two days before an American icon’s day that we celebrate nationally who was murdered. He was slain by a rifle,” Roach said.
Instead of a Gun Appreciation Day, Roach suggested appreciating gun violence victims or the 2nd Amendment.
“Why not appreciate victims? Why not appreciate the 2nd Amendment? But Gun Appreciation Day is really a power play. That’s what it speaks to me,” she said.