WASHINGTON, D.C. — NSSF®, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, takes exception with President Joe Biden’s Executive Order to increase gun control measures. In the name of “doing something,” the Biden administration is chilling fundamental Constitutional rights and simply rehashing existing law, many of which were previously supported by the firearm industry.
“The Biden administration should demand that soft-on-crime prosecutors and lawmakers use the laws already in existence to lock up criminals that misuse firearms to prey on innocent Americans,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “Instead, this administration continues to scapegoat the firearm industry for its unwillingness to address crime. The failure of this administration to seriously address spiraling crime and instead focus its attacks on a Constitutionally-protected industry that works diligently to remain in compliance with laws and regulations and actively cooperates with law enforcement, especially ATF, exposes the lack of urgency Americans demand to curb rampant and out-of-control crime.”
The firearm industry worked with Congress to update the statutory definition of “in the business,” in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was passed last year and signed into law by President Biden. The update defined those Americans “in the business” of selling firearms as those “predominantly earning a profit.”
Further, The White House accused industry members, without evidence, of selling firearms without required FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verifications. This is disingenuous, at best. The firearm industry was the progenitor of the point-of-sale instant background check to ensure firearms are sold only to those the law has determined can be trusted to possess a firearm. The firearm industry has been on the leading edge to improve the quality of FBI’s NICS, including supporting the FIX NICS Act of 2017 that incentivized states and required federal agencies to submit all disqualifying background information to the FBI to ensure prohibited individuals are barred from purchasing firearms. NSSF supports increasing the submission of disqualifying records to FBI NICS but rejects the Biden administration’s demand to move closer to universal background checks, which will not work without a national firearm registry, which is forbidden by federal law.
The firearm industry has also been consistently addressing compliance with federal regulations to report the loss or theft of firearms during shipping. NSSF has repeatedly held compliance seminars with members of the firearm industry and common carriers to be aware of and remain in compliance with reporting requirements when firearms go missing during shipping. NSSF has led this effort to ensure firearms are accounted for during transit from manufacturer to distributor to retailer and finally to retail sale.
NSSF welcomes the Biden administration’s renewed attention to safe storage of firearms in the home. This has been an issue on which the firearm industry has led from the front for over two decades. Every firearm shipped from the factory includes a locking device. Additionally, through NSSF’s leadership with Project ChildSafe®, over 40 million firearm safety kits, including locking devices, have been distributed to communities across America through partnerships with over 15,000 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states and five U.S. territories. This campaign has been recognized by the National Safety Council’s Green Cross Awards and the Government Accountability Office for its efficacy in reducing the criminal and negligent misuse of firearms through voluntary safe storage. NSSF welcomes the Biden administration’s support to increase the reach of this firearm-industry financed effort.
In 2013, then-Vice President Joe Biden held a White House meeting in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy. He spoke to then-NSSF CEO Steve Sanetti and referring to NSSF, the president said, “You guys are doing a lot of good things, including the gunlock thing. And this isn’t Joe Biden just blowing smoke. I mean it.”
NSSF has not opposed the use of emergency risk protection orders, or so-called “red flag” laws, so long as those laws include adequate protections for Constitutional Due Process considerations. To date, none of the “red flag” laws in the 19 states and District of Columbia include these Constitutional protections. NSSF urges the Biden administration and Department of Justice (DOJ) to address these Constitutional concerns that would encourage additional states to consider these laws.
President Biden’s demand to close “the dating violence restraining order loophole” has already been addressed and was not opposed by the firearm industry. Definitions of domestic partners were updated in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Congress expanded domestic and dating partners to the list of prohibited individuals to include those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. Those laws were signed by President Biden.
NSSF recognized that the Department of Defense (DoD) instructs all military members on firearm safety during entry-level training. These include the fundamental rules of firearm safety. The firearm industry welcomes the Biden administration’s acknowledgment of proven firearm safety practices that have been the hallmark of the firearm industry for over a century. To the extent that the Biden administration is attempting to politicize the acquisition for the warfighter, the only criteria should be which firearm is the best one to meet the needs of America’s warfighters. Injecting gun control politics into the process is dangerous. Gun control politics should never have a place in DoD’s selection processes.
NSSF does not oppose the reauthorization of the Undetectable Firearms Act, that requires 3.7 ounces of metal be included in a major component part of a firearm. Detection technology has improved to the point where image detectors have been able to identify polymer-framed firearms. Demands to modernize this act deserve strict scrutiny. The Undetectable Firearms Act as it is currently written should be made permanent.
NSSF rejects the Biden administration’s demands to ban Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) and standard-capacity magazines. This demand is clearly unconstitutional, as affirmed by the Heller, McDonald and Bruen decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court that affirmed the individual right to possess firearms in common use. More than 24.4 million MSRs are in circulation today. That’s more than there are Ford F-150s on the road, the most-popular selling pickup truck. MSRs are semiautomatic firearms, which operate the same way as the most popular handguns and duck hunting shotguns. One cartridge is expended for each pull of the trigger. Likewise, efforts to ban standard-capacity magazines are an attempt to infringe on the Constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans. The courts have affirmed that magazine possession is essential to the ability to exercise Second Amendment rights. NSSF knows from government studies that banning MSRs and restricting magazine capacity will not make our communities safer.
NSSF rejects the Biden administration’s demand to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). This law is the expressed will of Congress that was passed with a wide bipartisan majority and prevents frivolous lawsuits against the firearm industry for the criminal misuse of firearms by remote third parties. This would be akin to suing Ford and Anheuser-Busch for criminal drunk driving incidents. Criminals are responsible for the crimes they commit.
NSSF rejects President Biden’s weaponization of the nonpartisan Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to squelch the First Amendment rights of firearm businesses. The heavy-handed approach is nothing short of an attempt to chill First Amendment-protected commercial free speech about products protected by the Second Amendment. The firearm industry markets firearms only to those who are legally able to possess them. Only those over the age of 18 can legally purchase a firearm at retail after submitting to an FBI NICS verification.
NSSF also rejects the Biden administration’s attempt to weaponize the “zero tolerance” policy of revoking federal firearms licenses for minor clerical errors by compounding that ill-conceived policy to expand it to a “name-and-shame” effort. Firearm retailers are the front line for ensuring firearms are sold only to those legally able to purchase them and “zero-tolerance” risks the cooperative relationship between firearm retailers and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). This weaponization of the ATF would codify the Biden administration’s efforts to transform the ATF from a law enforcement and regulatory agency to one that is a political arm of an antigun administration.