It’s good to have friends in the fight.
The coronavirus pandemic is causing economic hardship and worry for millions of Americans. Fortunately, the firearm and ammunition industry has allies in Congress to protect Americans’ rights and support small businesses.
U.S. Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) joined NSSF’s Larry Keane for a virtual townhall hosted by NSSF PAC with dozens of members of the firearm industry trade association. Congressman Budd brings a unique perspective. Along with serving as a Member of Congress, the second-term U.S. Representative from North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District is a gun store and range owner.
He is in a rare position that offered participants updates on COVID-19 relief and current firearm and small business-related legislation being considered in the nation’s capital. The hour-long conversation covered several important topics impacting firearm and ammunition manufacturers, distributors, retailers and shooting range operators.
Keeping Doors Open and Lights On
Rep. Budd kicked off with a congressional update. A major concern at the top of minds of gun store owners and employees has been how to remain open for business during the pandemic.
Governors have issued “stay-at-home” orders and “non-essential” business declarations. Millions are out of work. However, Rep. Budd highlighted NSSF’s efforts and success to secure an “essential” business listing on the DHS critical infrastructure guidance.
Securing the “essential” listing was vital and governors mostly followed suit, allowing firearm and ammunition retailers to stay open. This not only means Americans can continue to exercise their Second Amendment right during a critically important time, but also that nearly 330,000 Americans can still go to work.
Keane highlighted the firearm industry had $60 billion in economic impact last year, an industry high-water mark.
Safer Communities and Well-Supplied Law Enforcement
Rep. Budd described his own background as a firearm business owner. He was encouraged to take the reins of an existing North Carolina gun store when the former owner called it quits. It was an opportunity to support law-abiding Americans’ ability to purchase firearms and offer customers and members of the law enforcement community a place to practice safe firearm handling.
Congressman Budd recalled advice he was given upon purchasing his retail and range facility, stating “Never underestimate the desire of the public to have a safe place to shoot.”
Politics in D.C. and the 2020 Campaign Ahead
Rep. Budd also provided participants Congressional insights and forecasted what the political landscape may look like in the months ahead. Congress passed the “Phase 3.5” economic relief package providing $484 billion for small businesses to weather the coronavirus-induced economic storm.
The bill included additional assistance provisions. Rep. Budd remains concerned about ballooning national debt, dependence on overseas supply chains and the United States’ dependence on Chinese manufacturing of goods ranging from construction equipment to pharmaceuticals.
Rep. Budd and Keane also discussed the importance of financing for small businesses in the firearm and ammunition industries. The conversation included credit card processing, financial discrimination by corporate virtue-signaling banks, the Freedom Financing Act, as well as technology discrimination such as Google search and social media platforms. Discriminatory practices damage the ability of lawful firearm businesses to stay afloat.
Regarding the 2020 campaign in the months ahead, Rep. Budd was optimistic that pro-firearm, pro-Second Amendment champions could win back the U.S House of Representatives, but cautioned it would take hard work by candidates.
On the presidential campaign trail, Rep. Budd noted presumed Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden’s gun-control history and proposals. The Congressman said President Donald Trump’s accomplishments put him in a strong position to win re-election in November.
Keane wrapped up the virtual townhall by stating millions of gun rights supporters and the thousands of firearm and ammunition-related businesses across the country are fortunate to have such strong allies in the halls of Congress as Rep. Budd, and encouraged everyone to be a #GUNVOTE supporter to keep the industry strong and lasting.
Matt Manda is Manager, Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.