U.S. House of Representatives Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) grew up in a hunting and shooting sports family. It was not uncommon to go on dove hunts before high school football practice. That was the California of years ago, not California today. The state carries the notorious reputation for some of America’s strictest gun control laws.
On a virtual town hall event with firearm and ammunition industry leaders, U.S. Rep. McCarthy shared a story of a recent trip to a big box retailer. He wanted to purchase 12-gauge shotgun shells for a charity skeet shoot, and the checkout attendant asked him for multiple forms of identification, including his passport.
The highest-ranking Republican Congressman in the House of Representatives walked away from the sale out of frustration. He was stunned and dialed up someone who might give him a reason why this happened – California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The text back was simple as it was telling about Golden State gun rights. He was told in a text not to shop there
“It fires me up even more!” Congressman McCarthy explained about continued infringements on the right to keep and bear arms. “It’s how they are trying to get around the Second Amendment. Any time someone tries to infringe my rights, it only makes me more fired up. These laws, they’re being decided upon by people who have never shot a gun in their life.”
The value of the local firearm industry isn’t lost on the California congressman. That includes local firearm retailers to the manufacturers. The industry employs more than 330,000, and when governments were ordering businesses closed during the COVID crisis, the firearm industry was listed “essential” by President Donald Trump and the Department of Homeland Security. The designation allowed related businesses to remain open.
Subsequent congressional action like the Paycheck Protection Program helped many navigate the uncertainty. Now, Congress is facing a funding deadline and NSSF’s Larry Keane, moderating the discussion, asked the Republican Leader what Congressional action the Democratic-controlled House might take before the Nov. 3 election to help small businesses.
“I don’t think anything before the election outside the CR (Continuing Resolution government funding bill),” Rep. McCarthy explained. “In the lame duck, everybody talks big about all sorts of things happening, but it’s all determined by how the election turns out.”
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution to keep the government open for a time. It is expected the Senate will also approve and President Trump will sign it.
Keane provided Rep. McCarthy an opportunity to give industry members a glimpse of what could be in store in the next Congress should the House of Representatives flip and he is voted in as Speaker of the House. Those could include industry legislative priorities like the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (H.R. 38) and the Hearing Protection Act (H.R. 155).
“Well you can actually see what we did before when I was Majority Leader. We moved the reciprocity bill,” McCarthy recalled. “So yeah you’d see us move that. On suppressors, I’m a big supporter of those…This is actually for the safety of people, those who are shooting and those who are not.”
Law and Order
Firearm sales surged this year, in no small part to law-abiding Americans taking responsibility for their safety after witnessing increased violence and rioting. Nearly 14 million firearms were purchased, including more than 5 million to first-time buyers. People are deciding to take their safety and the safety of their family into their own hands amidst increasing civil unrest and rising calls to “defund the police.” Republican Leader McCarthy is leading the effort to flip the antigun House back to a more Second Amendment-friendly and law enforcement-supportive Republican majority. That requires winning back just 17 congressional seats, and McCarthy has a game plan.
“You’ve seen at times the president’s hands have been tied because of jurisdictions, but he’s worked everywhere around that to get people greater security,” McCarthy explained. “We’ve created what is called the ‘Commitment to America,’ and in here we specifically say, we don’t defund the police. We add $1.7 billion to the police. I think the more people see that, the more support the president is getting and the Republicans.”
Congressman McCarthy is hopeful for what Election Day could mean for America and the prospects to the firearm industry. Election stakes only grew following the vacancy left on the U.S. Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Republican House Leader McCarthy has high hopes for the Senate remaining in Second Amendment-friendly hands and President Donald Trump staying at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for another term.
“What is transpiring in America right now is unbelievable,” Congressman McCarthy said.
“Look, we’re playing to win like we always do,” Rep. McCarthy said. “And what a difference it will make to have a House that actually works with the president, that actually works with the Senate and works for the country.”
Election Day is critical to the firearm industry and all those who value their Second Amendment rights. Each branch is affected by the voting outcome. NSSF launched the #GUNVOTE initiative to ensure millions of gun-owning voters and Second Amendment supporters are informed and engaged when they head to the polls so they don’t risk their rights.
Matt Manda is Manager, Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.