Obama's Gun Controls 'Will Fail', Says Gun Lobby

Greg Milam, US correspondent

The organiser of America's first Gun Appreciation Day has told Sky News that any government attempt to limit access to firearms is destined to fail.

Gun owners across the United States were encouraged to rally at gun shops and shooting ranges to demonstrate their opposition to President Obama's calls for new gun controls.

In the wake of massacres, like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Mr Obama has proposed a ban on military-style assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines.

He has also said there must be universal background checks on anyone wanting to buy a gun.

The gun lobby says those efforts represent an attack on the rights of law-abiding citizens and especially the right to bear arms, which is enshrined in the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.

The Gun Appreciation Day event was organised by Larry Ward, president of a group called Political Media and a man who has attracted controversy for outspoken comments in support of gun ownership.

He spoke to Sky News at a gun shop and shooting range in Warrenton in Virginia where the numbers of customers appeared to be the same as any regular Saturday.

He denied this was a sign his event has fallen flat. He said: "This is not a centralised effort. People are doing their own thing."

He added: "This sends a signal to Congress and the President that Americans are very serious about their right to keep and bear arms.

"There are 80 million gun owners in the United States who show every day that they can own a gun and not be violent.

"Law abiding citizens don’t kill people, criminals do. The fact is these guns are here to defend us, here to protect us. We're responsible gun owners and there is not a reason in the world to limit our right, our civil and natural right, guaranteed to us by our constitution."

The timing of the event has been criticised as being provocative, coming so close to the presidential inauguration and the annual Martin Luther King Day.

The veteran civil rights campaigner Reverend Jesse Jackson told Sky News that the sheer number of mass shootings in America over the last two years meant action now was essential.

But it is evident that efforts to change gun control laws face fierce opposition in Congress and on the streets.

Cradling his shotgun at the Virginia range, gun owner Dave Briggman told Sky News there would be "civil war" if government tried to take guns away from the public.

:: Five people were injured in accidental shootings at gun shows in North Carolina, Indiana and Ohio.

At the Dixie Gun and Knife Show in Raleigh on Saturday, a 12-gauge shotgun discharged as its owner unzipped its case at a security entrance. Two bystanders were hit by shotgun pellets. A retired deputy sheriff's hand was struck.

In Indianapolis, a man was unloading his .45-caliber semi-automatic when he shot his hand while leaving the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Show.

And in Medina, Ohio, a gun dealer was checking out a semi-automatic handgun he had bought when he accidentally pulled the trigger. Police say the gun's magazine had been removed, but one round remained in the chamber.

The bullet ricocheted off the floor and struck a friend's arm and leg.