The National Shooting Sports Foundation has fired a political shot across President Barack Obama’s bow as the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) show wraps up today in Las Vegas, timed coincidentally with yesterday’s hearings in Olympia on four gun control measures.
Today’s SHOT Show finale ends a busy week that illustrates two realities facing the firearms community in which some people favor tougher restrictions while public demand for guns continues to soar. Comments during yesterday’s Olympia hearings, as reported by the Associated Press, underscore the emotional arguments for more gun restrictions. But the NSSF open letter to the president offers another side to this debate. While some people talk about gun safety, the firearms industry delivers the goods.
According to the AP story appearing in the Seattle Times, Everett pediatrician Dr. Jane Lester told the House Judiciary Committee, “When kids have access to guns, no place is safe and everybody loses.” State Rep. Ruth Kagi estimated that about a million Washington state households contain “unsafe firearms,” the story said, without explaining where she got that estimate or defining what makes a gun “unsafe.”
And Cindy Gazecki, cousin of a 2014 Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting victim, reportedly stated that more than 35 other children have been killed with firearms in the state since that tragedy. She described the situation as “a public health crisis, an epidemic, and it must be treated as such.”
On the other hand, the NSSF letter “from the employees of America’s firearms and ammunition industry” declared, “We are America’s gun safety experts, in the true meaning of that phrase.” The letter details long-standing efforts toward safety, including Project ChildSafe, to distribute millions of gunlocks. It mentions the “FixNICS” campaign to improve the National Instant Check System. It notes the “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” program to prevent straw purchases.
The letter is displayed in the Press Room at the Sands Convention Center. It essentially reiterates NSSF’s initial reaction earlier this month to Obama’s remarks on gun control “executive actions.”
Indeed, when it comes to gun safety experts, the exhibit hall has been filled with them over the past few days. This column has spoken with firearms instructors, safety device manufacturers, staffers of the National Rifle Association and gun makers and dealers. They are in rooms filled with firearms, and many were at the range this past Monday, where thousands of rounds of ammunition were fired without anyone suffering a scratch.
It boils down to this, perhaps: Some people want to restrict access to firearms while millions of their fellow Americans — as illustrated by this week’s brisk business at the industry trade show — want to buy more guns. To listen to firearms retailers from across the country that have been here this week, the gun community is growing as lots of first-time buyers have been coming through their doors.
According to NSSF, firearms accidents are at “historic lows.” “Safe storage” advocates who argue otherwise have not explained how their proposed law would be enforced. Those who support an “extreme risk protection order” bill haven’t explained how it might not be abused.
It has been a big week for the firearms industry, and people attending the SHOT Show have been working hard. But as yesterday’s hearings in Olympia illustrate, there is much work yet to be done.
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