U.S.A. — ANALYSIS: With the National Rifle Association presumably “on the ropes” due to its ongoing legal battle, gun prohibition lobbying groups need a new bogeyman in their battle to erode the Second Amendment, and an article in The Guardian has revealed their new high-profile target: the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
The strategy isn’t even subtle, with Adzi Vokhiwa, director of federal affairs at the anti-gun Giffords group, declaring, “Make no mistake: the NSSF is even more insidious than the NRA with its ever-expanding lobbying operation and abnormally cozy relationship with its regulator.”
A close read of The Guardian article, authored by Washington-based journalist Peter Stone, reveals something important: Instead of once again portraying NRA as a lobbying group for the gun industry, an allegation mocked by many gun rights activists as absurd, NSSF is now rightly recognized for its activities as the firearms industry umbrella group, which it has been for decades. For years, anti-gunners portrayed NRA as being a lobbying group for gun makers rather than representing the interests of its millions of members.
Possibly NSSF’s greatest offense is its annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, held in Las Vegas. It is considered by many to be the biggest firearms industry trade show in the country, if not the world and the gun ban crowd cringes during its four-day run.
Among its other “faults” could be NSSF’s promotion of firearms safety, its involvement in suicide prevention efforts, support for hunting and competitive shooting, and its efforts to educate firearms retailers about prevention of theft and straw purchases.
Stone’s article quotes Kristen Rand, an attorney with the Violence Policy Center, who states, “The NSSF functions as the gun industry’s voice, with a singular focus on expanding the market for all types of firearms, including assault weapons and short-barreled rifles, and is eclipsing the NRA’s lobbying power on Capitol Hill.”
It’s something of a “Well, DUH!” observation, since any industry trade group—regardless of the industry—is expected to do exactly that; be the voice for the specific industry, even firearms.
Rand is quoted further, unintentionally describing what a competent trade umbrella group’s job is: “The NSSF burrows in on every nook and cranny of gun regulation as it works to ensure that the gun industry’s financial interests are consistently and zealously represented – on even the most arcane issues. For NSSF, gun violence prevention legislation is literally bad for business.”
Except that “gun violence prevention legislation” rarely, if ever, accomplishes its advertised mission. Washington State provides proof positive that such legislative efforts have failed miserably. As reported by Ammoland News back on June 16, Evergreen State gun control has been disastrous, with rising homicide numbers. Since 2015, the number of murders has doubled in Seattle, the state’s largest city and home to a billionaire-backed gun prohibition lobbying group.
Reacting to The Guardian article, Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel told Ammoland News via email, “NSSF makes no apology for effectively representing the interest of our members. NSSF lives rent free in the minds of the antigun left and their allies in the mainstream media who are desperately trying to paint NSSF as their new villain. NSSF is not so easily demonized. What NSSF is guilty of is working toward real solutions to make our communities safer.”
In a follow-up, he added, “I loved (Rand’s) nooks and cranny line. I’m the English muffin of lobbying.”
During the past couple of years, NSSF has, indeed, raised its profile as legislative attacks on the firearms industry have increased with efforts by Democrat-controlled legislatures considering, or adopting, legislation intentionally designed to collide with the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a law signed by then-president George W. Bush more than 15 years ago. It was passed by Congress to put a stop to harassment lawsuits filed essentially to cost the firearms industry millions of dollars, perhaps with hopes of bankrupting gun manufacturers.
Anti-gunners are also miffed that NSSF joined other pro-Second Amendment organizations in opposing the confirmation of David Chipman—President Joe Biden’s first pick to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) because of his past history as a lobbyist for a gun control organization after he left the ATF, where he had previously been employed.
The article also notes how NSSF’s “legal muscle has expanded in the last year since the NSSF tapped the former solicitor general Paul Clement as an outside lawyer to fight laws in seven states that limit the protections from lawsuits that were granted by Congress.”
Absent from The Guardian’s piece are any references to other groups which have also risen in prominence over the past several years due to their increased legal activity. This would include the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and Firearms Policy Coalition. The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is also picking up its pace, having announced this week that Andrew Gottlieb has been named “managing director” of the grassroots lobbying organization. CCRKBA is the sister organization of SAF, and has occasionally been involved in legal actions.
For example, CCRKBA was a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit successfully derailing a City of Seattle attempt several years ago to ban firearms in city park facilities, in direct violation of Washington’s firearms preemption statute. CCRKBA is also a plaintiff in the federal court challenge of Maryland’s ban on so-called “assault weapons.”
Perhaps in a future attack on the Second Amendment movement, those groups will also be demonized. In order to justify its increasingly extreme demands, the gun prohibition lobby will need to find as many foes as possible.
About Dave Workman
Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.