The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry. Organizations such as the NRA, Second Amendment Foundation and National Association of Gun Rights may be better known to the average hunter and shooter, but none are more important to the fight for your Second Amendment rights. The NSSF has been a staunch supporter and has worked tirelessly to protect your rights.
I had my first contact with Steve Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, several years ago. Since then, I have returned many times to draw from the fountain of his knowledge. For instance, Sanetti was well ahead of the curve and saw the dangers of politicians spinning the AR platform as an assault weapon. He lectured to many writers—years ago—about the need to properly identify the AR as a modern sporting rifle.
Recently, Sanetti submitted a video, which was highlighted at an annual conference for outdoor media professionals. His message was so strong and succinct that a call went out for copies. Knowing the mindset of the readers here at Cheaper Than Dirt! I wanted to share it with you for Second Amendment Sunday.
I have included the video, which runs a little under 16 minutes in total. I have also included the transcript below.
This is a critically important time for all firearms owners and, of course, for our industry. Legislation that would severely restrict firearms ownership has been introduced in Congress and in many state legislatures. And if passed, this legislation would have negative and long-lasting effects on our industry and the law-abiding firearms owners of America who hunt, target shoot, collect and own firearms for personal and home protection.
In working to defeat this legislation, our strength lies in our passion for our firearms freedoms and in being able to respond forcefully yet respectfully with accurate information. Whenever possible, we must impress upon those willing to listen that real solutions to the criminal misuse of firearms don’t lie in gun or magazine bans, but rather in efforts to fix the current retail background check system and to limit access to firearms by unauthorized persons.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the place that you can turn to acquire accurate information about federal and state legislation and many other issues related to the industry, safety, hunting and shooting. We offer many ways to stay informed, including background papers on key issues, newsletters, press releases, legislative alerts and frequent posts to our blog. The place to start is at our website, NSSF.org, or by just talking to an NSSF representative. So now, let’s take a closer look at the issues and what’s really at stake.
- The NSSF believes that only by focusing on real solutions can society help reduce the chances of violence and the criminal misuse of firearms.
- One thing we can do right now is to begin making badly needed improvements to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. We call this “Fix NICS.” The NSSF has outlined a Fix NICS initiative that will help bring all appropriate mental health and other records, such as restraining orders, into the NICS system.
NICS must be among the nation’s highest priorities so we can further prevent prohibited persons from purchasing firearms for criminal purposes.
- Regarding so-called “universal background checks,” or background checks that extend beyond retail sales or to private transfers such as a father passing on a favorite hunting rifle to his son, our big concern is one shared by millions of firearms owners—that enforcing checks of used firearms transfers between private individuals will lead to the creation of a national registry of firearms, something that Congress has expressly prohibited.
- In addition, the current background check system would need to be greatly expanded at huge cost to handle the additional checks. Canada is actually in the process of dismantling its expensive and inefficient rifle and shotgun registry because it takes up police time better used elsewhere. We also have concerns related to the woeful lack of prosecutions of persons flagged by NICS as being prohibited from purchasing a firearm, as well as concerns about imposing on firearms retailers increased regulatory burdens and exposure to liability for merchandise they didn’t even sell.
Preventing Unauthorized Access
- Another way to help prevent firearms misuse is to deter unauthorized access to firearms stored in the home, and this includes access by children, at-risk persons and those not legally qualified to possess a firearm.
- Given what we know at this time, if the mother of the Sandy Hook school shooter, whom she knew to be at-risk, had stored her firearms correctly, the Newtown tragedy could have been prevented, without any additional gun-control laws.
- The NSSF has been a leader for 50 years in promoting firearm safety education nationwide. In response to the events in Newtown, we will be expanding our nationally recognized Project ChildSafe program, which has already distributed over 35 million firearm safety kits and locks, to further emphasize that gun owners must take steps to ensure that their firearms cannot be accessed by at-risk individuals. This may require gun owners to use a gun safe or other appropriate security device when the firearm is not in use and which is resistant to tampering by an adult.
- The NSSF supports legislation that will provide a sales tax exemption on the purchase of any gun storage safety device, such as a gun safe, gun cabinet, cases or other locking devices.
Strong penalties for gun trafficking
- Yet another real solution is simply to enforce our existing laws so that individuals who illegally possess firearms are prosecuted and receive stiff, and even mandatory, sentences. We know it works. Look at New York City’s crackdown on the illegal possession of firearms and how that has contributed to the city’s historic decrease in violent crime.
- Our Don’t Lie for the Other Guy campaign exists to remind both possible purchasers and sellers that if someone buys a gun for another individual who can’t do so legally, both the buyer and the seller face up to a $25,000 fine and almost 10 years in jail. Yet this is meaningless unless those felonies are prosecuted to the fullest allowable extent.
Assault Weapons Ban
- At the top of the list of some proposed solutions that will do little to deter crime and violence but would make it illegal to sell America’s most popular rifle model is renewing the ban on so-called “assault rifles.”
- And we strongly oppose a ban on semiautomatic rifles because such legislation is overreaching and unwarranted. Millions and millions of these rifles are owned by law-abiding, responsible persons who use them for target shooting, hunting and home protection. And these owners hurt no one. Several studies, including one by the U.S. Department of Justice, have shown that the decade-long ban on so-called “assault rifles” did not reduce crime. And since that ban expired in 2004, violent crime has continued to decline dramatically. Consider that a National Institute of Justice report says, “An assault weapons ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence.”
- To suggest that these rifles are good for nothing but killing people, as Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy has said, is an insult to the millions of law-abiding citizens who own and use them safely and properly. Anyone who says such a thing is calling these good people of America murderers. And that’s not the way to engage in a constructive dialogue about solutions to violence in society, nor is it a way to gain support from gun owners.
- Even with millions of these rifles purchased—about 4 million in the last ten years—they are rarely used in crime. In Connecticut, for example, only two homicides in seven years were committed with rifles of any kind before the tragic school shooting. Weapons such as knives, clubs and even hands and feet are used far more often than rifles to commit homicides. That’s a fact.
- And let’s not help those who would ban these rifles. Please don’t refer to them as “assault weapons” or “assault rifles.” They aren’t. We encourage using the term “modern sporting rifle” to describe them because it reflects the widespread sporting use of these semiautomatic rifles by responsible owners.
- To further explain the correct terminology, “assault weapon” is a political term applied to certain firearms based solely on cosmetic features. So under proposed legislation, a semiautomatic rifle that can accept a detachable magazine can be perfectly legal to own unless it also has a cosmetic feature such as a pistol grip or an adjustable stock, in which case it would be banned from being sold. And an “assault rifle” is, by technical definition, capable of automatic fire—it’s a machine gun; in contrast, semiautomatic rifles, which have been around for more than 100 years, fire just one round with each pull and release of the trigger.
- Now granted, the look of these rifles creates a lot of confusion. I’m from a generation that grew up thinking a rifle had a wood stock and blued steel, so I understand that the look of many modern sporting rifles may be off-putting to some people. But to the younger generation of firearms owners and purchasers—the 35 to 40 years old group—this is what a rifle looks like today. It’s what they want to own and shoot legitimately for pleasure, sporting purposes, hunting, target shooting and millions of them do so, and they don’t hurt a fly.
- When it comes to limiting magazine capacity, I refer again to the decade-long so-called assault weapons ban. It restricted magazine capacity to 10 rounds, but it did not reduce crime—a conclusion reached by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Urban Institute.
- And when it comes to purchasing a firearm for personal and home defense, civilians naturally look to law enforcement and the types of firearms they rely on to protect themselves and the public as a guide to what equipment they should purchase. Just like the police, they can’t discount the possibility of multiple assailants, or missed shots, or the possibility of requiring more than one hit to stop somebody threatening the family. This isn’t Hollywood.
- Remember that law enforcement made the switch to semiautomatic pistols and rifles that accept magazines that carry more rounds—approximately 15 in the case of pistols and 20 to 30 for rifles—because this standard equipment helps deter the bad guys. Law abiding citizens exercising their constitutional right of self-defense should have access to the same type of equipment for the protection of their families.
- There have also been a number of proposals to restrict the type and amount of ammunition that law-abiding citizens can purchase or to impose severe taxes on ammunition. We think this is just wrong.
- Today’s target shooter typically shoots many thousands of rounds at the target range every year and again, they harm no one. We don’t think law-abiding citizens should be penalized for enjoying the shooting sports as they are enjoyed today.
- We’re a technology-loving society, so you see a lot of stories about owner-recognition technology, sometimes called “smart-gun” technology, this theoretically allows only one designated person to fire a gun.
- But despite millions of dollars in government and private research funding dedicated over a decade to developing this technology to see if it is feasible, it just isn’t there yet.
- Now that being said, the NSSF isn’t opposed to the development of this technology. We are opposed to mandating its use before the technology has been proven to be reliable and safe. Virtually all owner-recognition systems have to rely on batteries, and this leads to the question of what happens when the battery fails. And as anyone who has ever tried to use a flashlight or cell phone knows, batteries fail at the worst possible time. And then the question becomes, does the firearm not operate in a moment of dire need because the battery’s dead? This is unacceptable. Or does the firearm default to operable mode, which means it’ll work and it defeats the single-user feature? Neither alternative is acceptable because either battery-failure mode can cost lives.
- Though not opposed to this technology, we have serious reservations about the entire concept of single-user firearms from a safety standpoint. Firearm safety begins and ends with the user of the firearm. That person must know how the firearm operates, and must be able to check and see if it is loaded or not at any time, including prior to storing a firearm and when it’s removed from storage. A big concern is that owner-recognition technology could create a false sense of security—that the technology would protect the users and others from firearms misuse. For example, will the owners of so called smart guns become lax in gun-safety habits and leave them lying about their homes, loaded, where unauthorized persons, including children, might access them?
- It’s important to note that law enforcement and the military and even anti-gun groups are opposed to this technology.
- And finally, don’t forget, this discussion about owner-recognition technology shouldn’t obscure the fact that the means to appropriately secure firearms from unauthorized persons already exists right now, with locking devices supplied as original equipment voluntarily by firearms manufacturers or by choosing from a wide variety of safes, storage cabinets, lockable boxes and gun locks at the point of sale.
Countless millions of these devices are in use and as a result, firearms accidents have fallen dramatically during the last decade and are now involved in less than 1 percent of all fatal accidents in this nation, well below fires, poisoning and drowning.
So to sum up, the NSSF believes that in order to reduce violence and criminal misuse of firearms in America, we have to focus on real solutions—fixing the background check system, preventing unauthorized access to firearms—not banning firearms and magazines. I encourage you to use these facts when contacting your elected officials to oppose restrictive anti firearms legislation. And I want you to know that the
NSSF stands with you in this fight. We have engaged all of our resources to help protect your firearms and your right to lawfully and responsibly enjoy hunting and the shooting sports.
Please check out our website at NSSF.org to get more in-depth information about these and many other topics. You’ll need to be fully armed with the facts in this important fight.