Stay out of Newtown! That’s the message many sent to a gun rights group on Friday after the Second Amendment Foundation said it plans to declare Dec. 14 “Guns Save Lives Day.”
It's the anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
”As far as I’m concerned, this is nonsense,” said Linda Manna of Newtown, Conn., who said she could not believe the nonprofit's plan. “It’s very insensitive… very insensitive."
Members of the Newtown Action Alliance agreed.
“It’s despicable, it’s reprehensible,” said Alliance member Monte Frank.
Frank said the day should be a time to remember the 20 children and six educators who were killed when Adam Lanza opened fire before turning the gun on himself.
“It’s not the right day," Frank said. "It’s pretty distasteful."
The Newtown Action Alliance, an advocacy group for tougher gun laws, released the following statement on Saturday:
"As December approaches, the Newtown community has been planning to honor the memories of our twenty first-graders and six brave teachers who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School a year ago. Unfortunately, the gun industry, along with a fringe group of gun enthusiasts, have taken it upon themselves to proclaim 12/14/13 'Guns Save Lives Day'. Using our day of mourning and remembrance to focus on the guns that took the lives of our children and teachers rather than celebrating their memories is disgraceful."
According to the Second Amendment Foundation, based in Washington state, Guns Save Lives Day aims to raise awareness of the benefits of the right to bear arms.
“We're not doing anything that's insensitive at all," said founder Alan Gottlieb. "Quite frankly, what we think is insensitive is attacking the law-abiding rights of gun owners coast to coast and trying to pass legislation so people can’t have the means to protect themselves.”
The Guns Save Lives Day website says the foundation's objective is to "prevent misguided gun control laws" from taking effect and said the day is a way of honoring those killed at Sandy Hook.
"No one at Newtown should have been a victim and no one in the future should be victimized by laws that do not allow people to defend themselves," the site reads.
The site goes on to say that "Americans are safer – from crime and tyranny – when they have the means to defend themselves" and that concealed- and open-carry laws can serve to thwart violence.
Gottlieb said he's in the process of planning Gun Saves Lives Day events in all 50 states, but didn't specify what they would entail. He said the goal is to fight restrictions on gun sales, especially after Connecticut's new gun control laws.
“There’s a good side of guns in that every day, on average, 2,181 use a firearm to protect themselves and their property from criminal attack,” Gottlieb said.
Many people in Newtown said that while the group is entitled to its own opinion, they don't want pro-gun demonstrations taking place in town since the community is still grieving.
“We need to be left alone on the 14th," Manna said. "We are still a community in the healing process."
Gottlieb said he does not plan to hold an event in Newtown on Dec. 14.