By Steve Sanetti
Gun control groups praising Connecticut’s Supreme Court decision to allow the Soto v. Bushmaster case to move forward are, ironically, using the court decision as an opportunity to perpetuate false narratives, the same misdeeds of which they accuse the firearms industry. Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence struck out at the firearms industry to push an agenda of half-truths, omissions of fact and obfuscation.
It’s an outright lie to malign the firearms industry with inflammatory rhetoric. To reach real solutions to the most challenging questions, we must deal in facts. In trying to invoke the tragedy of Sandy Hook, Giffords Law Center is painting with a broad brush the actions of a criminal to the entire firearms industry. It must not be overlooked that the criminal who committed the horrific acts at Sandy Hook became a criminal the moment he stole a firearm — well before he committed his unspeakable crimes.
No one — not a single person, nor company, nor the industry at large — has ever advocated that any crimes involving firearms are acceptable, tolerated or condoned. The implication otherwise is detestable at best, and unprincipled and amoral at worst.
How Sandy Hook Families Hope to Pierce the Gun Industry’s Legal Shield https://t.co/hYi5e4JVth
— J Adam Skaggs (@jadamskaggs) April 9, 2019
The author of this column for the Giffords Law Center (“Truth and the gun lobby’s marketing lies,” April 6) accuses the firearms industry of playing fast and loose with facts in advertising. Here are the facts the author conveniently ignored when impugning an entire industry.
It is the firearms industry doing the yeoman’s work to stop the criminal misuse of guns. No one wants to stop the criminal misuse of guns more than we do. We share the concerns of all Americans and we’re advocating for real solutions to create safer communities.
The firearms industry supports, and actively works to pass laws that prevent the sales of guns to people who can’t legally own them. We’ve changed the laws in 16 states to make background checks work as intended, requiring the input of disqualifying records, and increasing the number of those records to the FBI from 1.7 million in 2013 to more than 5 million today, a 220 percent increase.
The firearms industry, just last year, worked with senators and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and opposing views on gun rights to give states the resources to submit all disqualifying records to the background check system, and to require federal agencies to do the same.
The firearms industry is committed to the safe storage of firearms when not in use. Gun companies have included more than 70 million gun locks in each gun sold since 1998. In addition, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, through our Project ChildSafe program, has partnered with 15,000 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states and five U.S. territories to distribute 38 million gun safety kits, which include gun locks, free of charge. The program was recognized as one of three finalists for the National Safety Council’s 2018 “Green Cross for Safety” Awards.
The firearms industry partners with the ATF to prevent straw purchases of firearms, or cases when someone attempts to purchase a gun for someone who legally can’t buy one for themselves. For nearly 20 years, the firearms industry has been working with U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, to educate retailers on the warning signs of such a crime and warning the public that buying a gun for someone who can’t risks 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine.
The industry also partners with the ATF to improve security and help prevent burglaries and robberies at licensed gun dealers, and matches ATF reward offers that double the money for the arrest and conviction of those who would steal guns.
We do this because we know criminals who steal guns only do so to bring more crime to our communities. We are taking action to stop it.
The firearms industry also partnered with the largest suicide prevention organization in America to build and provide a suicide prevention toolkit to help firearms retailers, shooting range operators and customers understand the risk factors and warning signs associated with suicide and encourage those at risk to seek help and choose secure firearms storage options.
It’s through these actions that violent crimes committed with firearms have sharply fallen in the past quarter-century. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting statistics, homicides with firearms decreased 24 percent between 1991 and 2017. Department of Justice data show other crimes with firearms decreased 70 percent between 1993 and 2017. These precipitous drops occurred even as gun sales quintupled during the same time period.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, as the firearms industry’s trade association, remains committed to these efforts because we know they work. Malicious accusations to score cheap rhetorical points serve no one’s interest. Rolling up our sleeves and working together toward real solutions is what matters.
Steve Sanetti is the chief executive officer for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.