The 117th Congress gaveled into session on Jan. 3 and among the new faces in the U.S. House of Representatives are dozens of firearm-friendly freshmen. It’s the most diverse Republican freshmen class ever and includes military veterans, minorities and a historic tally of women.
The GOP freshman class, outnumbering Democrats by a three-to-one margin, arrived at Capitol Hill at the same time America is watching the face of gun ownership change. A record 21 million firearm purchases were made in 2020. That includes 8.4 million people who bought a gun for the first time last year. By all counts, the image of who is buying guns no longer fits dated caricatures. Forty percent of 2020’s gun buyers are women. African American gun buyers grew 58 percent over 2019.
The threats to Second Amendment rights are real and the new Members of Congress have staked out their position to defend those rights.
Taking the Oath
Six Second Amendment-supporting freshman members hail from Texas, including Navy veterans U.S. Reps. Tony Gonzalez and Ronny Jackson and former Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls. Former Irving, Texas Mayor Beth Van Duyne was sworn in, campaigning on a message of firearm ownership and personal security for women and calling out the “defund the police” movement that puts lives at risk. Rep. Pete Sessions regained a congressional seat and former Texas state legislator Pat Fallon was also elected – both hold strong, well known records on gun rights.
California sent five new members to Congress and all are stalwarts on the Second Amendment. Reps. Michelle Steel and Young Kim are the first two Korean-American Members of Congress and each back firearm rights. Congressman Jay Olbernolt, who was a state legislator, previously criticized California infringements on the Second Amendment, saying “I know what the solutions aren’t. The last thing we ought to be doing is taking the arms out of the hands of our concerned citizens who know how to use them properly.” Rejoining Congress are Reps. Darrell Issa and David Valadao, each with gun rights records.
Florida added Congressman Byron Donalds, a former state legislator. He said, “In Congress, you can expect me to defend your Constitutional rights, no matter the cost. Shall not be infringed, means Shall not be infringed!”
Congresswoman Kat Cammack, herself a Florida concealed carry permit holder, agreed, saying “I will always uphold and defend our Second Amendment rights. As a concealed carry permit holder and the wife to a first responder, I am adamant about protecting this most basic American right. This issue is personal to me and my family.”
U.S. Reps. Scott Franklin, Maria Elvira Salazar and Carlos Gimenez also join the ranks from the Sunshine State.
In South Carolina, gun rights supporter Rep. Nancy Mace, the first woman to graduate from The Citadel, took back a congressional seat from a gun control congressman. Congressman Andrew Clyde will represent his Georgia district, bringing his experience as a firearm business owner and former Navy officer along with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has been vocal on her gun rights positions.
Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert has a well-known reputation as a Second Amendment supporter and already made a splash for gun rights by forcing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to cave on implementing new gun control rules in the House of Representatives.
The great news for gun owners and Second Amendment supporters across the country is that there are dozens more new members who will also be allies in Congress. They’ll be needed as the threats to the firearm industry and gun owners are expected to grow.
The Stakes Ahead
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris won’t be slowed. The most antigun presidential ticket in history is ready to move on several gun control proposals, including plans to confiscate and ban modern sporting rifles, impose red flag laws that deny due process, suffocate firearm small businesses through regulation and above all, eliminate the firearm industry by repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).
NSSF is already forging relationships with these Members of Congress, showing them the importance of the industry to their states, districts and the rights of the citizens they represent.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.