In almost no time after someone misuses a firearm, politicians and many in the media attack (as always) the lawful ownership and use of firearms. This is done before the facts are in, and in some cases, before the investigation has even started! This is pathetic. It is, unfortunately, all too predictable. Instead of pandering for votes or ratings, these folks ought to consider looking for solutions that would go after criminals and respect the rights of gun owners.This much is clear. These crimes are disgusting. The criminals who misuse their firearms against our neighbors and loved ones are a scourge on our communities. But remember, they are not us. We won’t be defined by the actions of criminals. They do not represent the more than 100 million law-abiding Americans who responsibly keep and bear arms every day.
We won’t let others paint us with the broad brush of misinformation.
We are the firearms industry, the same industry that conceived of and supports the national instant criminal background check system (NICS) for every firearm sold at retail. We are the industry that championed the bipartisan Fix NICS Act in Congress. This legislation – which bears the name of one of our flagship safety programs, was signed into law to ensure all disqualifying mental health and criminal records are submitted into the NICS system. Its goal is to make sure our background check system works as intended. The bill was named after our ongoing FixNICS® campaign, which we launched in 2013 to have states submit disqualifying records to NICS to keep guns out of the hands of those that should not have them. Since 2013 we have successfully changed the law in 16 states, and increased submissions of disqualifying records from 1.7 million to over 5.6 million today – an increase of 241 percent.
Also, it was the National Shooting Sports Foundation® that created Project ChildSafe®, the partnership with over 15,000 law enforcement agencies and community partners throughout the country that has distributed over 38 million firearms safety kits that include a free gun lock, in every state and U.S. territory. The firearms industry also has a long-standing partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to prevent straw purchases of firearms through our Don’t Lie for the Other GuyTM campaign. It is the firearms industry that is committed to ensuring that firearms stay out of the hands of those who should never possess them.
The firearms industry is committed to Real Solutions℠ for safer communities. We are willing to work with others who are committed to the ideals of ensuring and promoting responsible firearms ownership, safeguarding lives, while at the same time insisting that our rights as firearms owners are protected.
This is our commitment, and these are our communities. We won’t surrender them to murderers, and we won’t give in to demagoguery or politicization. Our neighbors deserve better.
With August having been recognized as National Shooting Sports Month® – a hugely successful NSSF initiative which has just completed its third year – and the several other programs relating to hunting and shooting created by NSSF, I thought I would share some information about a new NSSF initiative designed to get NSSF employees out to the field.We are all aware of the First Shots® and +ONE® programs that are designed to attract and engage hunters and shooters throughout country. Likewise, there are several NSSF-created and maintained websites designed to educate and inspire folks all over the world. Closer to home, we have just announced a program that will help the employees of NSSF obtain a Hunter Safety Certificate, and also get these folks out on their first upland hunt.
This initiative is a clear signal to our members and everybody else that we don’t just talk about going hunting or shooting; we don’t just want everyone else to hunt or shoot; we encourage our folks to hunt and/or shoot. In short, we are putting our money where our mouth is. Further, by getting our folks out to the range or the field, we can help them develop skills, experiences and credibility that will improve our ability to advocate for hunting and the shooting sports, attract new members, and be conversant with a wide variety of NSSF supporters and affiliates.
I have been fortunate to have been able to hunt a variety of species in many different and beautiful locations throughout North America. I believe that this new program will allow others at NSSF to take the first step towards a lifetime of adventures in the field. We will be sure to share our team’s experiences on our social media outlets, so please stay tuned. Also, if anyone reading this article has not taken the pledge to introduce someone to hunting or the shooting sports, please make sure to do so at letsgohunting.org/plusone and letsgoshooting.org/plusone.
One of the industry initiatives that may not get enough attention is our efforts to prevent suicide by firearm. As many know, NSSF has partnered the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (“AFSP”) to lend our expertise to this complex issue. As nearly two thirds of all firearm deaths are from suicide, we are taking on this challenge to help educate our members on how to prevent these deaths. We have recently expanded our efforts to work with the veteran community.The NSSF recently attended and participated in the VA / DoD Suicide Prevention Conference, held in Nashville at the city’s Convention Center. Since last November, NSSF began working with the Veterans Administration to develop a suicide prevention program that will empower communities to engage in safe firearm-storage practices. This program includes information to help communities create coalitions around promoting and sustaining firearm safety with an emphasis on service members, veterans and their families. In addition to participating in a panel discussion at the Conference, NSSF also distributed its suicide prevention education materials to attendees.
This program is currently getting started in seven test locations around the country—Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Michigan, Texas, Utah and Washington, D.C. The VA-specific toolkit is still in development but will contain some of the already-created AFSP – NSSF materials, as well as NSSF firearm safety materials such as our safe storage infographic.
The NSSF is proud to be partnering with the VA and DoD, particularly as our industry has strong ties to the military and is dedicated to playing a role in helping to reduce suicide by firearm among veterans. Many mental health professionals and military personnel at the conference expressed their appreciation for our industry being part of the solution to help reduce the rate of suicide by firearm among veterans and active service members.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie cited the potential of the VA-NSSF-AFSP program to save lives in his keynote speech to conference attendees. He stated: “…You can help us. You can help us make sure that everyone in the public knows about VCL [Veterans Crisis Line]. You can contribute to the awareness campaign about mental health resources and suicide prevention resources in your state and local government. You can promote safe storage of firearms, something VA is already working on with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. And you can help us talk about hope and the importance of speaking about mental health.”
NSSF’s goals with these efforts are to help educate the firearms owning community, including veterans and active servicemen and women, along with firearms retailer and range staff, about suicide and prevention, and contribute to the overall discussion of suicide prevention with national, state and regional mental health groups.
“To promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports.”