Larry Ward, chairman of the "Gun Appreciation Day" campaign, said Monday that "Not only do I stand by my statement that Gun Appreciation Day honors the legacy of Martin Luther King, but also the entire civil rights movement."
Ward joined Rev. Al Sharpton on PoliticsNation to defend his controversial comments about King, and Sharpton argued vigorously about King's legacy, pointing out that the civil rights leader preached non-violence and was killed by a gun.
Gun Appreciation Day is scheduled for Jan. 19, the weekend before the national holiday celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., known by many in the civil rights community as King weekend.
Ward justified his argument by pointing out that King once applied for and was denied a gun permit, but Sharpton added that King later said he was glad he had been turned down for the permit and that he would never carry a gun again.
Ward continued to push the issue as a civil right. "Dr.King fought for equal opportunity, and we look at cities like Chicago and New York that have a majority of minorities in it right now and those cities themselves do not grant the same access the same equal opportunity that somebody in Texas would have to defend themselves."
Sharpton and Ward discussed Ward's claim that slavery wouldn't have happened if slaves could own guns. When Sharpton pointed out that armed slave rebellions of the early 19th century failed to liberate any slaves, Ward continued his argument that gun ownership is a civil right and that citizens have the right to use whatever weapons the government uses against them.
Ward also tried to distance Gun Appreciation Day from the Newtown shooting. "This Gun Appreciation Day, just so we're clear, is not in reaction to the shooting in Newtown," Ward said. "It's in reaction to the reaction."
When asked if Gun Appreciation Day included appreciating high capacity ammunition and automatic weapons, Ward said, "Absolutely," adding that he believes that "any ban on a semi-automatic weapon would not have changed the outcome of what happened in Newtown."