As President Barack Obama moves to restrict gun rights in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings, 60,000 firearms, sporting and outdoors recreation industry professionals converge on Las Vegas attending the 35th annual SHOT Show.
National Shooting Sports Foundation President and CEO Steve Sanetti said he is comfortable with Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show running Jan. 15 to 18 as the national debate about gun rights dominates the news.
“Ours is a responsible industry that manufactures and sells lawful products to law-abiding citizens, who in turn exercise their Constitutional right to own, use and enjoy firearms safely and responsibly for lawful purposes,” said the leader of the NSSF, the show’s owner and organizer.
Sanetti takes center stage the first day of SHOT Show, when he delivers his address at the NSSF State of the Industry Dinner in front of 2,000 attendees.
“Hunting and the recreational shooting sports are here to stay and so are we,” he said.
“A prerequisite to any dialogue involving our industry and its products is an honest recognition of the legitimacy of what we do and the important part of the national culture which we represent,” he said.
“Firearms ownership is popular and mainstream,” said Sanetti. “Industry is developing new products for women and competition shooters, hunters, people who are interested in concealed carry, and law enforcement, all as a result of consumer demand,” he said.
The show, held this year at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, is the largest trade show of its kind in the world and provides a first look at new products and services used for target shooting, hunting, outdoor and law enforcement purposes, said Bill Brassard Jr., spokesman for the NSSF.
Although the show is closed to the public, there will be credentialed industry professionals there from from all 50 states and more than 100 countries, he said.
The exhibit floor covers 630,000 net square feet and has 12.5 miles of aisles, he said. Even in a flat economy, business is booming, Brassard said.
The $4.1 billion industry is coming off a strong year and is cautiously optimistic about the year ahead, he said. For the American gun industry, that means both retail and manufacturing jobs, he said.
There were more background checks, an indicator of firearm sales, conducted in 2012 than ever before, and statistics show that more people are hunting and target shooting, he said.
Another driver of sales is the purchase of firearms for personal and home protection. Gun ownership is going up at the same time crime is going down, he said.
Brassard said the show is more than just business. SHOT Show provides a perfect setting for organizational and educational meetings.
“Retailers take advantage of SHOT Show University to learn from experts about new marketing strategies and compliance with federal regulations, with the latter featuring for the first time an open forum with NSSF federal firearms licensee compliance consultants.”
Law enforcement professionals also will have a series of seminars to choose from as well, he said.