UPDATE: Wisconsin Gun Owners Rally in Madison for 'Gun Appreciation Day'
Hundreds of armed gun owners are expected to show up at the state Capitol as part of nationwide movement to support gun ownership.
Updated at 5:20 p.m. Saturday with crowd estimate
A conservative group is hoping that tens of thousands turn out nationwide to show their support for gun ownership with their pocketbooks and picket signs the day before President Barack Obama is sworn in for a second term.
The group, a coalition brought together for the event, declared Saturday as "Gun Appreciation Day." The hope is Americans nationwide will show their support for gun ownership by turning out en masse at gun stores, ranges and shows from coast to coast.
“The Obama administration has shown that it is more than willing to trample the Constitution to impose its dictates upon the American people,” said Gun Appreciation Day Chairman Larry Ward in a press release.
In Wisconsin, a rally that took place at noon Saturday outside the state Capitol in Madison drew more than 500 people, the Journal Sentinel reported.
The organizers of the Wisconsin rally encouraged gun owners to bring their guns to the rally, but are issued some warnings on the rally's Facebook page.
"Please keep weapons holstered at all times. Do not remove your weapon to show a new friend. Capitol police might mistake this for “brandishing” or another reason for alarm," the page says. Organizers also are reminding participants that guns are prohibited inside the Capitol building.
Capitol police said there were no problems on Saturday, the Journal Sentinel said.
The day comes as the gun control debate becomes more divisive. On Wednesday, Obama signed 23 executive actions aimed at curtailing gun violence and called on Congress to make tougher punishments for gun trafficking and place limits on magazine sizes.
The issues is back on the front burner after several recent high-profile mass shootings, including ones at an elementary school in Newtown, CT, at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek and a spa in Brookfield.
"Gun Appreciation Day" is modeled after this past summer's "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day," the answer to a boycott of the fast food chain after CEO Dan Cathy declared his support of what he termed "traditional marriage." According to ABC News, Chick-Fil-A posted record-setting sales during the "Appreciation Day."
A counter event has also been formed by a group called Parents Against Gun Violence (PAGV), which has declared January 19 as Child Appreciation Day.
"Organizing a 'gun appreciation day' so soon after the Newtown Massacre is in poor taste. In response we have decided to promote a 'Child Appreciation Day' to honor our children and the victims of Newtown," said Jennifer Caldera, a member of the PAGV Steering Committee, in a statement to the press.
Gun Appreciation Day is scheduled the day before Obama's second inauguration, and two days before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which honors the civil rights leader who was slain in 1968.
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