NSSF, the firearm industry trade association, will work with those in Congress who are dedicated to serious, sober, thoughtful and deliberate discussions to address measures to prevent these tragedies. There can be no more inappropriate moment for political theater.
The firearm industry is – and always has been – ready to work for Real Solutions that make our communities safer.
There are opportunities for agreement. NSSF has been here before. NSSF worked with U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to pass the FIX NICS Act, named for the firearm industry’s Fix NICS campaign. That law provides resources to the states and compels federal agencies to submit all disqualifying records to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) so the system works as intended.
Since NSSF started this effort in 2013, 16 states changed their laws and Congress took action. Disqualifying mental health record submissions increased 270 percent from 1.4 million in 2013 to over 6.14 million today.
In that same spirit, NSSF is encouraged by the Senate discussions. Thoughtful discussion is being shared to find answers, including on so-called “red flag” laws. These must include strong protections for Constitutional Due Process rights. Consideration is being given to increased mental health resources and improving security at America’s schools, including active protection for children.
This is encouraging and NSSF is working with Senate leadership to provide input to stake out common ground. NSSF has been here before and believes there is room for agreement.
That encouragement that the Senate can agree on these issues is boosted by the rejection of the knee-jerk and partisan calls for unconstitutional gun control measures. President Joe Biden used his national address from The White House to push for bans on commonly-owned Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs), magazine capacity restrictions, enacting age-based gun bans and repealing the bipartisan Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).
The U.S. House of Representatives is forcing through a package of gun control measures that is entirely off-base. Those include everything the president called for in his gun control calls.
Some Members of Congress who would trample on Constitutional rights are serious about these proposals. They would reduce the Second Amendment to a second-class right and usher in an era of government privileges that would quash the rights of citizens. The fact that these proposals are being rejected by Senate leaders is encouraging.
Use Available Tools
There is still room for more. Congress must get serious about enforcing the laws. The murderer in Buffalo, New York, was brought in by state police for a mental health evaluation, but never brought before a judge for an adjudication or consideration for involuntary commitment to a mental health facility. No New York authority invoked that state’s “red-flag” law to protect the community.
The murderer in Uvalde, Texas, made threats on social media that he intended to murder children at a school a month prior to his heinous crimes and again 10 days prior to his crimes. He made threats of rape and assault against former classmates and posted disturbing images on social media. None of this was reported to authorities to stop this criminal.
Tragically, the pattern emerges again that there were opportunities to use the available legal tools to protect communities, but they weren’t invoked. This must change.
Likewise, we must consider measures to protect schools with something more than an aluminum sign declaring the grounds as a “gun-free” zone. Our children are the most precious resources we have and we must protect them as such. More resources must be considered.
President Biden’s refusal to consider these measures is unfathomable. These were identified as points of improvement following previous tragedies and his outright dismissal of these considerations is unconscionable.
Dedicated to Real Solutions
NSSF has worked for Real Solutions. We have partnered with law enforcement to voluntarily secure firearms in the home when they’re not in use, so they remain inaccessible to those who should not possess them. NSSF works with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to prevent illegal “straw purchases” of firearms and voluntarily improve security at firearm retailers. NSSF partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to stop the tragedy of suicide by firearm. NSSF is invested in these answers because we know they work.
This is an opportunity to work together. NSSF is contributing to these answers and will work with anyone who would come alongside us while respecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.