National Shooting Sports Foundation senior vice president and general counsel Lawrence Keane is taking anti-gun mayors task in a new column, blasting the Michael Bloomberg-founded-and-funded Mayors Against Illegal Guns for accusing the firearms industry of being “unwilling to take steps to reduce gun violence”; a position that he says isn’t “grounded in reality.”
It’s true that the firearms industry isn’t on board with the gun control policies of MAIG or its parent organization Everytown, but Keane says the anti-gun mayors are willfully choosing to ignore the work that the industry is engaged in.
NSSF, the firearm industry trade association, is committed to implementing RealSolutions, an umbrella program “to promote responsible actions among legal gun owners, to help prevent accidents, and to help keep guns out of the wrong hands.” One such campaign is the NSSF-piloted Project ChildSafe, which partners with 15,000 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states and five U.S. territories. Many of the MAIG chairmen and women love to boast that their administrations work closely with local and federal law enforcement to reduce crimes with firearms—which is exactly what NSSF has done across the country for more than 20 years.
Project ChildSafe has distributed over 40 million gun safety kits, including locking devices, over the last two decades. In part due to NSSF’s efforts on this landmark safety program, fatal firearm accidents declined by 38 percent from 2005 to 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And for decades, manufacturers have been voluntarily providing a free locking device with each new firearm that leaves their factory.
In addition to Project ChildSafe, NSSF helps the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) educate retailers to be better able to detect “straw purchases” (Don’t Lie for the Other Guy), deters and prevents firearm theft from store locations (Operation Secure Store), and partners with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to save lives every day.
Moreover, NSSF spearheaded the legislative campaign to improve the FBI‘s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which culminated with the Fix NICS Act of 2017, which was named after NSSF’s state-focused FixNICS campaign.
The legislation strengthened the background check system for firearm purchases by requiring federal agencies to report all disqualifying records to the ATF, and encouraging states to do the same. NSSF worked with elected officials at the federal and state levels to ensure that jurisdictions submitted information that would prevent prohibited individuals from purchasing a firearm.
But none of those practices are what the anti-gun mayors are interested in. As Keane says, their goal is a full ban on firearms, and the efforts of Mayors Against Illegal Guns are aimed at legal gun owners, not violent criminals. Keane notes that, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report from 2016, about 90% of criminals who reported using a firearm during the commission of a crime obtained it illegally; either through theft, black-market sales, or straw purchases.
That’s a startling statistic. But what purpose would additional laws serve if we cannot enforce the laws already on the books, while most criminals obtain firearms through illegal sources? Criminals would pay them no mind and continue to commit crimes using firearms acquired through methods that are, have been, and continue to be totally illegal.
Keane adds that “[b]y painting our lawful, heavily regulated industry as the enemy, organizations like MAIG are missing an opportunity to engage with us in meaningful and substantive action to protect Americans and our Second Amendment rights,” which is an olive branch of sorts, I suppose. But Keane knows full well that those mayors who’ve climbed aboard Bloomberg’s anti-gun bandwagon aren’t interested in protecting the Second Amendment. Many of them are true-blue believers in the idea that we can ban our way to safety, while others may view obliterating the right to keep and bear arms as the politically popular thing to do in Democratic circles, but either way they have every reason to paint the firearms industry as the enemy. At the very least, their finger-pointing serves to distract attention from their own failures to curb violent crime… as well as the non-gun control tactics that are much more effective at making cities safer places.