By Joe Bartozzi
Last week, from the Democratic primary debate stage, former Vice President Joe Biden said we were the enemy.
“Our enemy is the gun manufacturers, not the NRA, the gun manufacturers,” Biden said.
Not a single candidate on stage that night, or the night before, condemned the remark. Their silence is tacit agreement. Not a single candidate had the courage to name the violent criminals as the problem or the fortitude to stand up to those who prey upon the vulnerable in our society. Instead, they are blaming us as an industry and the law-abiding gun owners we serve.
This is what we’re up against in the coming election season. It’s indicative of how much the landscape has changed and the lengths elected officials will go to score points.
Firearms Industry is America
National Shooting Sports Foundation®’s members need to know what their trade association is up against and what we’re doing. It’s going to be a struggle and there’s no room for anyone to be on the sidelines. We will need all member companies to be engaged and ensure our industry is able to conduct the lawful business of providing firearms to the more than 100 million law-abiding American gun owners in every state for legal use, including recreational shooting, hunting and self-defense.
Every Democratic candidate is now gunning for an industry that supports 312,000 jobs earning $15.7 billion in wages and has a total economic impact over $52 billion. The firearms industry is an integral economic contributor, having paid more than $6.8 billion in total taxes in 2019 alone.
The firearms industry is the fabric of America. These are American jobs in every corner of the nation. Our industry is the “Arsenal of Democracy,” a phrase coined by Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt, supplying the firearms that our armed forces and brave men and women of law enforcement use to protect our nation and keep our communities safe.
Candidates on the stage, including former Vice President Biden, agreed with the far-fetched notion of mass confiscation of firearms, a plan first proposed by Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.). Biden said, “I would buy back those weapons.” That plan would use the tax dollars paid by law-abiding gun owners to confiscate the more than 16 million modern sporting rifles in private ownership today under threat of criminal penalty for noncompliance.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) defended firearms confiscation as legal. “That’s not confiscation,” she said. “You would give them the offer to buy back the gun,” without reference to criminal penalties.
But we already have a template of what it looks like when a government would make criminals of lawful citizens because they don’t like the guns they own. New Zealand is attempting confiscation now and just 37 of the 1.2 million semiautomatic firearms were surrendered because gun owners there don’t trust the government to protect them or pay them fair market value.
Biden’s firearms industry animus went further. He would bar all firearms sales, except those equipped with “biometric” authorized-user technology.
“No gun should be able to be sold unless your biometric measure could pull that trigger,” he explained.
Here’s what most forget. NSSF was at the table with Vice President Biden when he sought these answers before. He was named by President Barack Obama in 2012 to lead a gun control task force that proposed 23 executive actions, including exploring “gun safety technologies.” The National Institutes of Justice studied the technology to “unlock” guns and after investing $12.6 million for research over 15 years, “none were successful.”
In fact, a recent survey found just five percent of gun buyers would consider buying a “smart-gun.” A further 70 percent said they would never consider it for fear of failure when it’s needed most. A gun, especially when used defend lives, must work as intended without fail or flaw. This technology doesn’t exist.
In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s President and CEO Steve Sanetti met with Vice President Biden who singled out NSSF’s Project Childsafe® program that has distributed over 38 million gun safety kits including gun locks through 15,000 police agencies in every U.S. state and territory.
He said then, “You guys are doing a lot of good things, including the gun lock thing, and this isn’t just Joe Biden blowing smoke. I mean it.”
NSSF in Action
We know now today’s reality is every Democratic candidate views firearms ownership as unacceptable. The lines are clearly drawn.
NSSF is ready. We refuse to stand by while politicians smear the very industry that provides the means to exercise the freedoms. The firearms industry is among the most- highly-regulated industries and we won’t be a convenient punching bag for misleading talking points.
We are aggressively pushing back in the media. We are not ceding an inch of ground whether that’s on the national debate stage or special sessions called by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to push his gun control agenda that’s already been rejected by the state’s General Assembly.
We are also informing our members of what the candidates are saying through our #GUNVOTE voter education program. Anyone is able to follow the updates on Twitter and Facebook to learn about the issues, stay informed and know how to register to vote. Get involved. Don’t risk your rights.
Lastly, NSSF’s Political Action Committee is engaged. We are working to support candidates for office who appreciate our industry, value our contributions to our communities and respect Second Amendment rights.
It will take all of us. Members need to get involved. Subscribe to NSSF’s alerts, get plugged in with the PAC and read up on what the candidates are saying through #GUNVOTE. Invite your family and friends. Our livelihood and our way of life depend on it.
Joe Bartozzi is the president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.