The journalist was killed 10 years ago today.
The far right is wrong to be holding a National Gun Appreciation Day on Jan. 19.
The timing could not be worse: It comes two days before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is also President Obama's Inauguration Day.
It's only about seven weeks after the worst elementary school shooting in U.S. history.
And it comes on the heels of other highly shocking mass shootings, including at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and at the public gathering hosted by then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Each event was executed by a lone gunman with high-powered weapons and, in some cases, enough bullets to kill hundreds of people.
Each event was a national trauma.
Finally, after the horrific shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Obama vowed to take action to protect our children. With Vice President Biden's recommendations, Obama intends to move forward with some sensible gun control measures.
This has set off some diehard gun groups, which have called for Gun Appreciation Day. Backed by conservative political organizations such as the tea party and RedState, the founders of Gun Appreciation Day are urging people to go to their "local gun store, gun range, or gun show" and register their protest against Obama. "Lock and load," their leaflets say.
But the president is not threatening to take away the people's right to bear arms. All he wants is some reasonable regulation.
I'm not saying that gun owners don't have a right to organize a Gun Appreciation Day. But holding a day that celebrates guns so close to a day that celebrates the nonviolent leader of a social movement that changed the nation, a leader who was killed by a gun, is an offensive move.
King, as a young activist with a family that constantly received threats from violent segregationists, had guns in his house. As he became more dedicated to nonviolence, he gave up guns.
In his speeches, he talked about technological and scientific developments outstripping our will as a society to practice brotherhood. "We must all learn to live together as brothers, or we will all perish together as fools," he said.
Our weaponry is outstripping our ability to live in a safe and compassionate society. Thousands of gun homicides occur in the United States every year, and the weapons are increasingly efficient in liquidating their targets.
We should be mindful that no other advanced society puts up with this kind of violence.
I urge you not to celebrate National Gun Appreciation Day, especially not this weekend.
It is King's weekend, and it's Obama's second inaugural.
These two black men represent hope and achievement for millions in this country and around the world.
It is far better to celebrate them than to stir up dangerous emotions over a nonexistent threat to the Second Amendment.
Starita Smith, Ph.D., has been an award-winning journalist at the Gary Post-Tribune, the Columbus Dispatch and the Austin American-Statesman. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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