gun store counter
Store owner Bren Brown, stands with a display of handguns at Frontier Justice in Lee's Summit, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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By Larry Keane

The firearms industry had reason to celebrate in 2019. NICS checks are now increasing, opportunity arose and the National Shooting Sports Foundation is marking legislative victories.

Industry indicators show a healthy and robust firearms and ammunition manufacturing industry. This year’s NICS checks consistently beat the pace of 2018 each month since April.

Economic Indicators

The total number of firearm background checks conducted on Black Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, was 202,465. That is the second-highest single day for the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in history, dating back to 1998 when NICS was implemented. It also represents an 11 percent increase over last year’s Black Friday total. Checks for November 2019 totaled 1,342,155, a 2.1 percent increase over November 2018.

December’s figures were still being tallied when this went to publication, as was the year’s total as this was being written, but some suggested this year’s total adjusted NICS checks would surpass those of 2018.

That’s not the only beacon. The firearms and ammunition industry total economic output in the United States increased to $52.1 billion in 2018 from $19.1 billion in 2008, a 171 percent increase, according to a report released in April 2019 by NSSF®. In the last three years alone, the industry’s economic impact rose to $52.1 billion in 2018 from $49.3 billion in 2015

Our industry’s companies employ as many as 149,146 people nationally and generate an additional 162,845 jobs in supplier and ancillary industries. Not only does the industry create jobs, it also generates sizeable tax revenues. In the United States, the industry and its employees pay over $6.82 billion in taxes including property, income, and sales-based levies.

Legislative Victories

The good news isn’t limited to economic indicators. Legislatively, NSSF chalked up wins for sportsmen and women.

Following victories in West Virginia and Delaware in 2018, NSSF applauded Pennsylvania for allowing Sunday hunting for the first time in more than 100 years. NSSF made Sunday hunting a priority issue in Pennsylvania, leading the Sunday Hunting Coalition, along with 15 other like-minded hunting and conservation groups and outdoor retail businesses.

shotgun hunting hunter

This adds to NSSF’s recent Sunday hunting achievements in North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina. Maine and Massachusetts still have outright Sunday hunting bans, and several states still restrict hunting, including allowing hunting only on private lands.

The industry is leading on the safety front as well. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pledged $1 million to bring NSSF’s Project ChildSafe program to the state, and the firearms industry is delivering. The grant was provided and NSSF shipped 10,000 of the 625,000 firearms safety kits with gun locks to the Lone Star State.

Twenty-nine law enforcement agencies have requested the kits to date, ranging from the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office to the Dallas Police Department and the Alvin ISD police department. NSSF has conducted Project ChildSafe for 20 years, distributing more than 38 million kits to over 15,000 law enforcement agencies and encourages all firearms owners to lock firearms when not in use to deny access by unauthorized users.

national shooting sports month
Courtesy NSSF

National Shooting Sports Month is gaining among our state and national elected officials. With NSSF’s encouragement, several governors issued proclamations in 2019 to recognize August as National Shooting Sports Month in their respective states, including South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, Oklahoma Gov. J. Kevin Stitt, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.

The governors were joined by President Donald Trump as the White House issued a Presidential message to the nation on the first day of National Shooting Sports Month detailing the importance and tradition of the shooting sports in America. Dozens of politicians visited ranges and retailers to see the impact of our industry in their districts.

This interaction is crucial to industry success on Capitol Hill and in the statehouses. On the federal level, NSSF culminated 11 years’ worth of work when President Donald Trump’s signed of H.R. 1222, the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (Public Law No: 116-17).

The law allows states to use a 90 percent federal fund match derived from the Pittman Robertson excise taxes paid by firearms and ammunition manufacturers. Previously, states were required to pay 25 percent of the cost to gain a 75 percent federal match. The new law also expands the time by which the project’s funds must be expended. We are already beginning to see state’s take advantage of this new-found flexibility.

State legislatures were no less busy. NSSF’s defeat ill-conceived gun-control proposals in many states, including bills in Rhode Island that would have banned standard capacity magazines, all modern sporting rifles and increased the purchase age for rifles and shotguns to 21 from 18, a Delaware bill to nearly all semiautomatic rifles, and a traditional ammunition ban bill in Minnesota bill. Moving forward, NSSF is expecting gun control advocates to rely more heavily on ballot measures to advance their agenda.

nssf fly in
Courtesy NSSF

None of this, however, means work is slowing down. Unfinished tasks in Washington D.C. and threats to the industry continue to arise in the states.

The transition of export licensing and oversight for commercial and sporting firearms and ammunition products to the Commerce Department from the State Department is imminent, as this article went to print. Final rules are expected to be published soon, and once published, will become effective 45 days after. That’s an effort NSSF has been leading to level the competitive playing field for American based manufacturers for many years.

NSSF is taking action to protect retailers from thefts and burglaries and supports the passage of the Federal Firearms Licensee Protection Act of 2019 (S. 1788/H.R. 2179), introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in the Senate and by Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) and Rep. John Rutherford (R-Fla.) in the House. The bill enhances penalties for stealing guns from an FFL. The bill complements NSSF’s Operation Secure Store partnership with ATF and retailers to help try to prevent thefts from occurring.

Statehouse industry challenges remain. Gun control zealot and billionaire presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg poured in $2.5 million to flip Virginia for gun control. Now, pre-filed legislation lays out the anti-gun ambitions, including a ban the possession of so-called “assault firearms,” which expands current definitions to include many other shotguns, rifles and handguns.

Virginia we will not comply
Courtesy Jeff Hulbert

That’s riled up the Old Dominion and before Christmas, more than 100 counties, cities and communities passed resolutions to protect Second Amendment rights. Gov. Ralph Northam somewhat backtracked and promised to “grandfather” and register existing firearms. Other gun-control bills include banning firearms training, youth hunting alone and threats to defund police refusing to enforce Second Amendment encroachments.

NSSF is also monitoring and working to defeat threats to manufacturers and retailers in Maryland, Ohio, Illinois, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Florida, where gun control advocates are pushing a modern sporting rifle ban ballot initiative.

Election 2020 Democrats
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Atop all that, every Democratic candidate vying to challenge President Trump for the White House in 2020 has promised some gun control, including repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, mandatory authorized-user or so-called “smart gun” technology, reinstating the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, national federal licensing schemes and outright force confiscation of lawfully possessed modern sporting rifles.

Our industry is strong. With member support, we’ve overcome challenges and achieved milestones. The coming year will be no different and we look forward to opportunities our industry will see in the coming year and decade.


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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  1. Meanwhile over at NRA headquarters the big debate is over who makes the best suits and what airline to fly first class on

    • Regarding the latter, that’s a no-brainer. The better Asian and Middle Eastern carriers are heads and tails above any American airline.

      • I have flown several Middle Eastern airlines, the planes and service make me think of the s*@##!le countries they come from. India Air (national carrier, not domestic) was better than most over there.

        Singapore Air, China Air (Taiwan), Thai Air (Thailand), JAL (Japan) were all good.

        • I’ve flown on a number Asian carriers in both business and first class (Cathy Pacific, Japan Airlines, Thai Airways, etc.) and they were all good to excellent. The only Middle Eastern airline I’ve flown is Turkish Airlines, and to give credit where it was due it was very nice. Other airlines such as Qatar Airlines and Emirates get fantastic reviews for their premium cabins.

          United, American, Delta…..not so much.

        • And for what you pay for that premium service for the foreign carriers like Emirates, you can park a multi-thousand dollar gun in your safe.

          Cattle-class gets me there (very nearly) as fast as first class, and leaves more cash in my pocket for life-saving medical injections… *snicker* 😉

        • I’ve never paid cash for a single business or first class tickets. I’m a points hacker.

          My upcoming first class flight to Thailand on Cathay Pacific cost me all of $35 (and 75,000 Alaska Airlines points that I got from credit card signup bonuses).

  2. Looking at the recent 3 months and going into the new year now, I’m enjoying seeing the local and state-level grassroots activism that’s being born out of what’s happening in Virginia.

    My NRA Membership expires in a week……No more $cash for Conservative Inc and their GOP Country Club Establishment Shitfaces like Wayne LaPoopPile.

    GOA, VCDL, OGO, SAF, FPC all. the. way!

    • I’m in a financial status which precludes me from having multiple organization affiliations, so I chose GOA as the recipient of my $$$, based upon what I have read.
      Whine LaPierre can go take a leap. There is no way he is entitled to $900+ K in salary plus benefits and other perks.
      Time to yank the Old Guard out of the ivory tower and replace them with fresh blood that’s not stagnant. Get better service from our $.

  3. I wonder how many of those NICS checks are new sales and how many are just additional checks due to more background check laws. Didn’t some states add new background check laws for private sales?

    • Or in my case. Nearly every time I purchase a firearm the NCIS comes back hold for further check. Due to me having a very common name. Usually takes an additional 30 minutes to be cleared. I’ve never been denied. Just have to be prepared for the additional hassle.

  4. Here is a thought for all of you gun owners:

    Why not put forth a real effort that could invalidate all anti-gun legislation by simply making the point that government lacks the authority to regulate the firearms industry. They argue that the supremacy clause and the commerce clause of the Constitutions is what gives them their authority… but is that true?

    I believe that both of these clauses from the Constitution are being misapplied and misinterpreted, and even adulterated. For example, Article VI, Sec 2 is clearly a conditional statement as it says that with regard to U.S. law being the supreme law of the land that; “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof;” – meaning of course that all US law must be made “in Pursuance thereof” with respect to the Constitution in order for any such laws to hold a place together with the Constitution as being the supreme law of the land. But without belaboring this, and for now at least, setting aside all what is contained within or that can be argued about what is in the original document, let us just consider for now the following: The fact that the Constitution is considered to be a “compact”, meaning a contract or an agreement and having as one of its principal intents, to restrict and to limit the power and the authority of the newly created federal government (and with this being clearly stated in the Preamble to the Bill of Rights). And that under recognized and accepted contract law, an amendment to the original document bears more weight and exerts more force because the terms and the conditions of an amendment always “supersede” the terms and conditions of the original document. And this is simply true because the amendment acts to, and has the effect of, permanently altering and changing the original document. And so regardless of what can be argued to be contained within the original document, the Second Amendment makes clear that, “the Right of the people to keep and bear arms Shall Not be infringed” was intended to be, and is in fact, a command directive to government, and that furthermore, it makes this “command directive” to government part of the supreme law of the land, and that it shall continue to be the law of the land until such time as a change occurs via the passage of another constitutional amendment that specifically addresses and alters this provision. As an example and a case in point, the 18th Amendment banned alcohol beverage consumption and made Prohibition the law of the land. But even after everyone (including those in government) finally recognized Prohibition to have been a horrible mistake, it could not be easily undone via any act of the Congress nor with a presidential executive order. And so it was not until with the passage of the 21st Amendment that the era of Prohibition finally came to an end. The Rule of Law is very clear. Neither the Congress nor the President nor the US Supreme Court have the authority to alter or to change any of the provisions of the Constitution (or its amendments) as this can only be done via the amendment process… And so with respect to “the Right of the people to keep and bear arms” that is contained within the Second Amendment, this has NEVER been done and so the Second Amendment remains unchanged and unaltered and stands as originally written by the Founding Fathers. And furthermore, that as a result of the Second Amendment never having been changed, “the Right of the people to keep and bear arms Shall not be infringed” remains as the Supreme Law of the Land throughout the United States of America… PERIOD!!!

    It should be well understood that without a formal change to the provisions of the Second Amendment via the constitutional amendment process, that the government (inclusive of all three branches) lacks the authority to intervene or intrude upon or to even attempt to reinterpret the meaning of, or to in any way infringe upon the Right of the people to keep and bear arms… regardless of what can be argued over what may or may not be authorized in the original document. In addition, let us not overlook the fact that government agencies and bureaucrats lack any legislative authority. And furthermore, when one examines the many great quotes left behind by the Founding Fathers regarding individual gun Rights, their intent in drafting the Second Amendment and incorporating it into the Constitution could not be made any clearer. So the idea of gun Rights having to be tied to or to depend upon and be subject to firearms having to meet the standard of having a so called “sporting use” is a direct and blatant insult to the memory of the Founding Fathers!

    It’s time we united to fight a real and meaningful fight for individual gun Rights and put an end to this ridiculous circus of unending unconstitutional anti-gun regulations.

  5. Need to work on streamlining or eliminating NFA procedures.
    Maybe some legislation to limit wait times…especially for people that ALREADY have NFA items…and maybe for those that regularly undergo background checks (LEOs, military, other).
    Still have to pay the fee, still have to do the paperwork and photo and fingerprints…just should be consideration for past/present purchases and job requirements.
    No…not badge/boot licking…just pointing out that some jobs require thorough background checks on a regular basis and that it should count for SOMEthing.
    Even federal LEOs have to wait a year for a can/NFA item if not for the job.

    • “Even federal LEOs have to wait a year for a can/NFA item if not for the job”
      I would rather neither you nor I would have to wait so long, but for now it is as it should be if I I have to wait so should you.

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