"I expect and hope that this event will turn out people, including women, who will surprise those who are trying to portray us as a bunch of radical crazies," says Michael Hammond, the legislative consultant for Gun Owners of America in Springfield, Va., which bills itself as the "no-compromise gun lobby." "If we say nothing, we're attacked, if we say something we're attacked – the other side is going to attack everything we do. I think they're attacking [Ward] and this 'Gun Appreciation Day' because they're afraid it might have some impact, so good for him."
Polls suggest that he is right: Gun owners are not a monolithic bloc of rabid enthusiasts. But that doesn't mean they see any attempt at regulation as an infringement of their constitutional right to bear arms. According to a late December Pew Research Center poll, half of Americans with a gun in their household say assault-style weapons make society more dangerous, while 34 percent of gun owners say such weapons make America safer, suggesting a split between hard-core National Rifle Association supporters and Americans with more centrist views on gun ownership.
Mr. Obama is expected to propose on Wednesday a ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as universal background checks.
In that light, showcasing gun owners and gun culture may be a shrewd tactic, Chris Cooper, a political scientist at Western Carolina University, told the Asheville, N.C., Citizen-Times.