Chief executives and other C-suite executives from the firearm and ammunition industry gathered in Washington, D.C., for the 2022 NSSF Congressional Fly-In and met with Members of Congress and Senators to raise awareness about several key issues impacting the industry. It was a jam-packed two days of meetings as dozens of firearm, ammunition and accessories industry leaders spoke face-to-face with elected officials from both sides of the aisle. This was the first in-person Fly-In in three years. The Fly-In was canceled two years ago due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and last year’s event was held virtually.
“There’s no substitute for having U.S. Representatives and Senators hearing directly from industry leaders about how policies from Washington effect their businesses, their ability to hire and grow, and most importantly, their ability to provide millions of law-abiding Americans the ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” said NSSF’s Lawrence Keane. “It was a real show-of-force and a testament to our entire industry that such a large number of our industry principals came to our nation’s Capital and participated in the 2022 Congressional Fly-In. It was a resounding success.”
Skin in the Game
Keane highlighted that more than $500,000 had already been raised from industry members so far this election cycle, during a reception focused on the success and growth of the NSSF Political Action Committee (NSSF PAC). These are funds that will be used to help support pro-firearm industry, pro-Second Amendment and pro-Sportsmen and women candidates in November’s upcoming midterm elections. The PAC event hosted 35 Members of Congress and Senators to speak directly with industry leaders. Over the course of the two-days, NSSF interacted with nearly 20 percent of the entire House of Representatives.
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) provided a detailed update on his efforts leading the charge to win back a pro-firearm Senate majority and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was presented with the 2021 NSSF Legislator of the Year Award. NSSF recognized him for his commitment to protect the firearm industry against special-interest and partisan attacks that would have threatened the lawful commerce of firearms in America and jeopardized the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. Sen, Grassley, as the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee led the successful effort to defeat the nomination of gun control lobbyist Dave Chipman to be the director of ATF.
Firearm industry members spoke about their first-hand experiences of leading an industry at the in-person meetings with more than 35 U.S. Representatives and Senators. Those conversations detailed a period of record firearm sales, including 14 million first-time gun buyers who greatly diversified the gun-owning community, as well as the challenges facing their businesses.
Key legislative priorities the industry members urged their elected officials to support included H.R. 6970, the Firearm Industry Nondiscrimination (FIND) Act introduced by Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), and H.R. 1729, the Fair Access to Banking Act introduced by Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) and Sen. Kevin Cramer’s (R-N.D.) companion bill, S. 563 that carries the same name. These bills would ensure that large banks and financial institutions and other service providers that receive taxpayer-funded benefits cannot also implement discriminatory boardroom gun control policies against the lawful firearm industry and prohibit law-abiding customers from exercising their Second Amendment rights.
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), the 2020 NSSF Legislator of the Year Award recipient, spoke to industry leaders about his continued efforts to ensure firearm industry financial discrimination is halted. Sen. Cramer is the original sponsor of the Freedom Financing Act, S. 821, and has continued his efforts this year to put a stop to bad behavior by banks.
Republican Conference Chair U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) provided industry leaders an update on the legislative landscape in the lower chamber, as well as her efforts in leading the conference to stay on targeted message in their efforts to take back the majority in the House and retire Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Rep. Stefanik also added her enthusiasm to elect more Republican women to Congress is heading in the right direction as several pro-Second Amendment women will likely join the Republican conference at the start of next year.
The message to lawmakers was clear. Law-abiding Americans choose over and over again to take their personal safety into their own hands and purchase a firearm. Firearm sales topped more than 40 million over the past two years. A recent study indicates 1 in 5 American adults purchased a firearm in the past two years. More women and minorities purchased firearms than ever before and that means significant changes to how they perceive gun control and the policies the elected officials they vote into office support. Congress needs to ensure the industry is free from “woke” corporate discrimination.
The enthusiasm and energy demonstrated by the successful 2022 NSSF Congressional Fly-In made one thing abundantly clear to leaders in Washington, D.C. Americans are paying attention and the Second Amendment is on the top of their minds as November approaches.
Matt Manda is Manager, Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.