Editor’s Note: Today’s op-ed from National Shooting Sports Foundation President Joe Bartozzi is reprinted with permission.
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has made no secret about her desire for more gun restrictions. She has prepared an a la carte menu of ideas from universal background checks to bans on “assault weapons” and standard capacity magazines to ending sales to those between the ages of 18 and 21.
On the other side of Capitol Hill, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019, which took a failed experiment of the 1990s and somehow made it even worse.
Long-time political writer Dick Polman, in a column in the Atlantic noted that the only missing ingredient to getting these bills signed into law is a “new massacre” to make gun control “a first-tier story.” There you have it. Polman pointed out what we’ve witnessed time and again.
So, here is our position – plainly stated. Those in the firearms industry are on the front lines every day working to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them. Gun control advocates, whether elected officials and their staffs or the paid professionals of gun control lobbying organizations, meanwhile, are fully prepared to take advantage of the next tragedy.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, working on behalf of our industry, promotes the safe and lawful use of firearms for target shooting, hunting and self-defense. We want to ensure that those who are prohibited from possessing them, or those who can’t be trusted to purchase or handle firearms responsibly never get their hands on them. It is the firearms industry that leads the way to making our communities safer.
We act on the clear distinction between what constitutes lawful commerce in firearms and the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens to bear firearms and their criminal misuse. Gun control advocates may pay lip service to the Second Amendment and talk about not wanting to “take away your guns,” but that is exactly what most of what they propose tries to accomplish.
Through Project ChildSafe®, NSSF has partnered with more than 15,000 law enforcement and community partners in all 50 states and five U.S. territories and engaged more than 8,500 organizational supporters to distribute more than 38 million firearms safety kits including cable style gun locks. The program was singled out but the Government Accounting Office for its effectiveness. We have run this program for 20 years. Firearms manufacturers have been providing locking devices in the box with each new gun purchase for about the same amount of time.
NSSF launched Don’t Lie for the Other GuyTM in 2000, to help prevent and illegal “straw purchases” of firearms. The program is run in partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to help educate firearms retailers how to detect and deter straw purchases. The public outreach associated with this campaign warns those who might consider this crime, they risk 10 years in jail and $250,000 fine. In that time, more than 1 billion media impressions have spread that message.
Our FixNICS® campaign was launched in 2013, to encourage states to report to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System all records that establish someone is prohibited from owning a firearm under current law. As the result of our work in 16 states, in just five years, the number of disqualifying mental health records submitted to NICS increased by 220 percent to more than 5.3 million, from about 1.7 million in December 2012. Patterned on our work at the state level, The Fix NICS Act was passed on an overwhelming bipartisan basis in both houses of Congress and signed into federal law by President Trump last year. This law gives the states resources to further improve this reporting and also compels federal agencies to submit all disqualifying records.
More recently, NSSF again partnered with ATF to launch Operation Secure StoreSM to help retailers stem firearms thefts from their stores. This program encompasses a longstanding commitment to match ATF rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who commit these crimes. Additionally, through store security seminars nationwide, NSSF and ATF team up to help educate retailers on steps they can take to reduce the likelihood of thefts. NSSF independently takes this commitment further by offering retailers in-depth security audits and encouraging the use of such security products as protective window film and smash-resistant display cases. Affinity programs offer discounts to NSSF member retailers on these and other such products.
About two-thirds of firearms-related fatalities are due to suicide. Recognizing that tragic fact, NSSF has joinedwith the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization to develop a suicide prevention toolkit to help firearms retailers, shooting range operators and customers understand risk factors and warning signs related to suicide. The materials point to where to find help and help encourage secure firearms storage options. NSSF also works closely with the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department to help prevent suicides.
This is what action looks like. These are real solutions that help build safer communities. Instead of taking advantage of and politicizing tragic events with public relations tactics in support of policies that are ineffective and harmful to our citizens’ rights, we will always work for solutions over soundbites and will be steadfast in our work, day in and day out, on the front lines of preventing guns from getting into the hands of those who should not have them.
— Joe Bartozzi
Bartozzi is President of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF)