The National Shooting Sports Foundation is continuing its partnership with the ATF on the “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” anti-straw purchasing campaign, this time in Fort Worth, Texas. The month-long educational campaign, which kicked off earlier this month, is meant to educate both FFLs and their employees on how to identify straw buyers as well as educating would-be purchasers of the dangers of buying a gun for someone else.
“The firearm industry has always been fully committed to keeping firearms out of the hands of those who should not possess them. We are proud to launch this public awareness campaign in Fort Worth and of our more than two-decade cooperative relationship with ATF, DOJ and the entire law enforcement community to assist them in their efforts to reduce criminal acquisition of firearms,” said NSSF President and CEO Joe Bartozzi.
The Fort Worth area “Don’t Lie” campaign will total more than 33 million gross media impressions. This includes an outdoor campaign across 38 high impact billboards and posters throughout the region with the message: “Buy a gun for someone who can’t and buy yourself 15 years in jail. Don’t Lie for the Other Guy.” In addition, the campaign includes 372 radio spots across three top stations in the market and more than 3.3 million targeted impressions across Facebook and Instagram, as well as geofenced mobile display ads.
While the partnership continues, there are strains. Speaking to Bearing Arms Cam & Co, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel Larry Keane admits that the anti-gun activism by ATF Director Steve Dettelbach is making it more difficult to work with the agency. While Dettelbach told senators during his confirmation hearing that he took no position on new legislation, he recently told an audience at Harvard that Congress should impose a ban on “assault weapons”, even though he refused to define the term.
“That’s not what Director Dettelbach said during his confirmation hearing and now all of a sudden he’s calling for bans on modern sporting rifles, he’s calling for ‘universal’ background checks. These are things he personally believes, he campaigned on these issues when he ran unsuccessfully in Ohio to be the attorney general,” says Keane.
But I can tell you, Cam, I’ve been around a long time and I’ve worked with ATF directors going back to 2000, and I can never recall a director taking a position and calling for legislation whether they believe it personally or not. That was not their job, as Dettelbach said in his hearing. It’s up to Congress to pass the laws, we will enforce the laws you pass. But for a director to take a position on legislation publicly was really concerning. It’s unprecedented, and we think it’s a terrible mistake. It does become more difficult to engage with ATF, but our view at NSSF is the worm will turn, right? He will not always be director and the parties change and who’s in control. To us it’s important as the trade association for the industry to have dialogue with the regulators who represent the interest of our members and the industry.
Keane went on to say that does not mean that the NSSF or its members agree with Dettelbach’s gun control views, but the industry wants to have at least a professional relationship whenever possible to advance the interest of its members and public safety through projects like Don’t Lie for the Other Guy or Operation Secure Store.
Someone has to be the adult in the room, in other words, and if it’s not going to be the head of the ATF then the NSSF will have to step up and fill that role.
Still, while the trade association maintains a working relationship with the agency, that might not hold true for individual FFLs. Why go out of their way to help the ATF when the man who appointed Dettelbach has called the firearms industry “the enemy” and Dettelbach himself is overseeing a campaign to revoke federal firearms licenses for any minor cleric error the agency’s inspectors deem to be “willful”?
Check out the entire conversation with Larry Keane in the video window below, including his take on the calls for a gun ban in the wake of the Lewiston murders, Rep. Jared Golden’s about-face on an “assault weapons” ban, and more.