The 8,000-member firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry trade association based in the same town as the Sandy Hook School, released a conciliatory Jan. 16 statement in reaction to President Barack Obama’s same day call for more restrictions on gun rights.
“All Americans share the goal of wanting to make our communities and children safer by reducing violence in our society, like the tragic incident that occured last month in our community of Newtown, Conn.,” began the statement by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, led by President and CEO Steve Sanetti.
The White House remarks came while the NSSF hosts its 35th annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoors Trade Show in Las Vegas. The SHOT Show is attended by 60,000 industry professionals.
The president’s remarks came on what would have been the 84th birthday of Martin Luther King, the civil rights leader whose 1968 assassination was a major factor in the passage of the 1968 Gun Control Act. The act is the basis of our current federal firearms regulatory regime.
After the spree-shooting at the school, that left 27 dead, including the shooter, the president directed Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., to lead a task force that would develop an agenda to restrict gun rights. Biden officially released his proposals today, which was the occasion of the president’s remarks.
The president proposed two dozen measures that would outlaw military-style long guns, deputize health professionals to monitor gun ownership and use and build an extension federal database of gun owners and their mental health.
The NSSF said it has an open mind and wants to be a partner in the process towards making Americans safe from gun violence.
The sticking point is how to approach the goal, it said.
“The central issue involved in violence where a firearm is misused is the unauthorized access to the firearm. We believe it is critical to first focus on the unauthorized access to firearms by irresponsible persons and those not legally qualified to possess them,” it said.
“We support immediate improvements to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System that will bring all appropriate mental health and other records, such as restraining orders, into the NICS system,” it said. “Fixing NICS must be among the highest priorities in order to help further prevent illegal purchases of firearms from federally licensed retailers.”
Not as well known at the National Rifle Assoication, the NSSF’s Board of Governors is stocked with leaders from the largest an and best know gun manufacturers, including its Chairman Robert L. Scott, Smith & Wesson; Vice Chairman Jeffrey Reh, Berretta USA and others from Mossberg, Colt, Browning, Winchester and Glock.
In the past, the NSSF has advocated against government schemes to track and trace gun use.
The trade group said it welcomes an emphasis on firearms safety, too.
“In order to help prevent unauthorized access to firearms in the home, we have long supported and are initiating an expanded safety campaign to promote the secure and responsible storage of all firearms and ammunition when not in use,” it said. “We believe the personal responsibility of gun owners, especially if there are children or at-risk individuals in the home, is central to any meaningful discussion of the issues.”