By Larry Keane
Politicians making sweeping promises they can’t keep is nothing new on the campaign trail. The vitriol as of late – assigning blame for the horrific crimes of sick and twisted individuals to the firearms industry – is something that has become, unfortunately, predictable. It’s part of the political gamesmanship from those who don’t understand our industry or respect our rights or the values for which our industry stands.
The rhetoric went from campaign clatter to all-out industry threats last week when U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released a plan she claims would reduce so-called “gun violence” by 80 percent. What her real plan is designed to do is cripple the firearms industry, subvert the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, deny rights to American adults through age-based bans and revive the Obama-era Operation Choke Point. Her version, though, would be a stranglehold.
Senator Warren’s plan paints the firearms industry with a broad brush, blaming the men and women who work in our factories for the deaths of 40,000 in 2017. She doesn’t account that nearly two-thirds of those were suicides and the negligent firearms use resulting in death is at historic lows. She doesn’t want to admit that efforts like our Real Solutions for Safer Communities are actually making a difference. Her campaign promises, though, would shift blame, ignore those responsible for horrific crimes and doom us as a society that is both less free and less safe.
Senator Warren’s plan, as she puts it, would “rein in an out-of-control gun industry — and to hold both gun dealers and manufacturers accountable for the violence promoted by their products.” The firearms industry makes products for law-abiding citizens. We’re the ones who brought the idea of an instant background check at the retail gun counter to reality. We’re the ones who worked to improve the background checks through our Fix NICS®program and efforts to prevent illegal straw purchases with our Don’t Lie for the Other GuyTM campaign with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Through the Project Childsafe® initiative, our industry partnered with 15,000 law enforcement agencies in every state to provide over 38 million firearms safety kits with free gun locks. We are committed to keeping firearms from those who should never possess them. Our actions demonstrate that much more than political bellowing.
It’s not just that Sen. Warren would throttle the industry. She intends to choke it off completely. President Barack Obama administration’s Operation Choke Point might have been a textbook example of government overreach to illegally and unfairly malign an industry, but Sen. Warren’s plan is a complete rough-shod trampling of laws. She would use the authority of the U.S. Attorney General to investigate and pressure banks and third-party vendors who have business ties to the firearms industry. This isn’t a proposal of someone who is charged with protecting America’s freedoms and free markets. It’s the proposal of a despot aimed as seizing government control of our financial institutions to kill of the industries that person doesn’t like.
Senator Warren would throw up roadblocks to exercising gun rights, starting with a 10 percent handgun and 11 percent ammunition tax. Then she adds on denying civil rights to adults under 21 through age-based gun bans and banning an entire class of firearms, repealing the bipartisan Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (which she’d ensure by ending the Senate filibuster rule) and finishing with her goal of putting firearms manufacturing executives in handcuffs. In Sen. Warren’s plan, it’s not the criminal who is responsible for the crimes they commit, it is the executive.
Senator Warren introduced her plan by listing the towns and cities where unthinkable tragedies have occurred. Here are others she might want to consider.
Sutherland Springs. The murderer in that Texas town was stopped by a law-abiding citizen armed with a modern sporting rifle. Broken Arrow. A 19-year-old in the Oklahoma community repelled a home invasion with another modern sporting rifle.
Anoka. It’s the small town in Minnesota where Federal Premium Ammunition is made. Newington, New Hampshire. That’s the town where Sig Sauer, the maker of the new M-17 handgun for our U.S. military has their headquarters.
There’s too many to list for every police department, in each big city and small town across America. Our police officers carry the sidearms made by U.S. firearms manufacturers, many of those made in a small town in Smyrna, Ga., by Glock.
One more American address Sen. Warren should know: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. Inside and outside of The White House, the agents who protect and safeguard the president, his family and the men and women who work there are armed with the firearms our industry produces.
Senator Warren makes promises to destroy our industry because we make firearms. We make so much more than guns and ammunition. We make America.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.