The president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation last night issued a call to action during his annual State of the Industry address just hours after a federal judge ruled that the Justice Department could not claim executive privilege to withhold documents tied to the Fast and Furious scandal.
The annual event is one of the highlights of the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show that continues through Friday. Yesterday found the aisles of this big industry trade show jammed, and several dealers and industry insiders agreed that business is brisk with legions of new gun owners since the San Bernardino terror attack and gun control was made a central theme of the 2016 campaign.
Much of this buying was sparked by President Barack Obama’s announced “executive actions” on gun control. Yesterday, The Hill reported that a lawsuit against those orders has been filed by Freedom Watch, a conservative group.
Firearms retailers will not soon forget Fast and Furious, the “gun walking” debacle that allowed some 2,000 firearms to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The Obama administration then used the fiasco to justify new requirements on retailers in four Southwest states, despite the fact that the operation was engineered by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
In a related story, Fox News confirmed yesterday that one of the .50-caliber rifles that was part of the Fast and Furious investigation was recovered by Mexican authorities when they arrested drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Jan. 8. Fast and Furious imploded in December 2010 when one of the guns from that operation was recovered at the scene of a gun battle in which Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed.
NSSF President Steve Sanetti did not mention these new developments during his speech last night before a packed audience. But he left no misunderstanding that what has happened under the Obama administration must not continue with another anti-gun president in the White House.
Calling 2016 “a crucial election year,” Sanetti said the firearms industry is being “blamed and attacked” for violent crime, and being used as a scapegoat for policies pushed by anti-gunners that have not reduced crime. Still, he reminded the audience that more people are buying firearms while at the same time crime rates have continued to decline.
Sanetti said a recent spike in violence in some cities is due to gangs, poverty and mental health issues. He also struck back at the gun prohibition lobby for being disingenuous in lumping suicides in with gun-related crime to create the impression that such crime is out of control. Suicides account for far more firearms fatalities than true criminal acts, but anti-gunners classify all of these fatalities as “gun violence.”
Running down a list of industry efforts to improve safety and prevent tragedies, Sanetti mentioned Project Child Safe, which has distributed tens of millions of gunlocks for free through police departments. He said the “Fix NICS” program aimed at improving the National Instant Check System is another important effort.
Sanetti also pointed to the irony of anti-industry efforts between the Bill Clinton and Obama administrations. He recalled that under Clinton, efforts were mounted to drive thousands of casual dealers out of business, and now Obama is pushing to require casual sellers to have licenses. The complete reversal of philosophies has not been lost on the firearms community.
“We are not the enemy,” Sanetti declared.
He warned that this election will determine who appoints the next Supreme Court justices. If the high court balance is turned toward the left with anti-gun-rights justices, “there goes the Second Amendment,” he said.
Sanetti told the audience to “beware of politicians who say ‘I support the Second Amendment, but…’” It is critical, he explained, for the industry to fight back, because gun control advocates have declared war, but he predicted that ultimately “we will prevail.”
Yesterday’s developments resurrecting memories of the Fast and Furious scandal under Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder just might play into the process. U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson Berman, an Obama appointee, ruled that the Justice Department couldn’t use a claim of executive privilege in a broad way, especially when some of the information had already been disclosed.
And the recovery of another scandal-related firearm at a high-profile crime scene could serve as one more reminder of the operation that many believe will continue to cost lives for perhaps years to come. Many of the guns allowed to “walk” during the operation have yet to be recovered.
MEANWHILE, in Olympia tomorrow, Evergreen State gun owners will gather for hearings on several gun control bills. The National Rifle Association has alerted members about the 1:30 p.m. hearing, before the House Judiciary Committee, and many activists are planning to attend.
Four gun control bills are on the agenda including one designed to seriously erode state preemption. It would allow local governments to ban guns in public parks and other facilities, including libraries. Washington’s statute has been a model for similar preemption laws in other states. It was first adopted in 1983 and was used to derail the attempted parks gun ban in Seattle five years ago.