The Newtown, Conn.-based trade association for America’s firearms and ammunition industries said Feb. 21 it was taken aback by comments the Nutmeg State’s governor made during a political event to announce his plans to restrict gun rights.
“We do not believe a rush to quick-fix legislation is likely to produce real public safety solutions, while it holds the clear potential to hurt good-paying manufacturing jobs in our state,” said the statement from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, whose offices are in the same town as Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a tragic shooting spree took place Dec. 17. The NSSF is the host of the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoors recreation Trade Show. SHOT Show is held every year in Las Vegas.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel F. Malloy revealed his anti-gun rights agenda during a political rally attended by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., on the campus of Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, a city 12 miles from Newtown.
The NSSF said it was looking forward to a less politicized approach.
“We applaud the General Assembly’s bi-partisan task force for working to fully evaluate all the issues and points of view, including that of our industry, in an effort to craft an effective public policy response. We hope the Governor will give the General Assembly the opportunity to get it right,” it said.
“We believe that is more important than achieving headlines in connection with Vice President Biden’s visit to Danbury today,” it said.
Malloy said in his remarks he would leverage the pain from the Sandy Hook shootings to pressure the legislature to pass a comprehensive regulatory regime for the state’s gun owners.
“Two months ago, our state became the center of a national debate after a tragedy we never imagined could happen here,” he said.
“The horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School brought home the fact that we are not immune to problems that face the nation at large, that we can never become complacent in our effort to ensure the safety of our residents,” he said. “Since that day, all of us have experienced grief. We have all mourned the loss of innocents. We have cried for the families and the survivors.”
The governor said his plan would require background checks for all gun transfers, ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, require extraordinary storage of guns and ammunition and bring a renewed focus to enforcing current gun laws.
But, the NSSF said, it was surprised that the governor’s plan was released before the Gun Violence Task Force was finished with its investigation.
“We are, however, troubled by the governor’s apparent change in attitude and seeming impatience,” it said.
The NSSF testified at two task force hearings and a spokesman for the group told Human Events that they thought they were part of the governor’s process. “We are the firearms safety experts.”
Connecticut is the traditional heart of the American firearms industry and gunsmithing, as the industry employs more than 3,000 workers directly in the state, the NSSF said.
Malloy said his proposed background checks would be completed before any transfer of a gun took place, not just sales between strangers and that he would use the background check system to track both firearms and ammunition.
The bill would also ban the sale of so-called assault weapons, which the bill would define as any semi-automatic firearm with at least one military characteristic, he said.
In its statement, the trade group said “We at the NSSF and our members based in the state will review Governor Malloy’s proposals in detail. We certainly hope to have the opportunity to engage with him in a meaningful dialog to achieve real and effective solutions that will help to make Connecticut safer.”