By Russ Thurman
The flurry of pro-gun/industry legislation in Washington, D.C., during the first quarter of 2017 was impressive. After eight years of negative executive actions and seemingly endless legislative threats from an anti-gun/industry president, it’s refreshing to begin the new year in a friendlier business environment.
In addition, with pro-gun majorities in both houses of Congress, there was good reason for that collective sigh of relief heard throughout the industry with the start of 2017. And, lawmakers on Capitol Hill wasted no time in advancing pro-Second Amendment issues, which benefits the industry.
Jan. 3, U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) introduced the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (H.R.38). With 63 co-sponsors, it was a great way to begin the first day of the 115th Congress. The legislation would allow concealed-carry permit holders from one state to carry concealed in another state that also has concealed-carry laws. It would also allow those with concealed-carry permits, to carry concealed in federally-controlled areas, such as the National Park Service and National Wildlife Refuge System.
“Our Second Amendment right doesn’t disappear when we cross state lines, and this legislation guarantees that,” Hudson said.
If Congress approves the bill, President Trump, who says he has carried a concealed firearm, will sign it into law. Such a law will have a favorable impact on sales. “Concealed carry” ranks number one in this year’s Shooting Industry’s “Where The Sales Are Index.”
Jan. 9, U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) introduced the Hearing Protection Act of 2017 (S.59). U.S. Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and John Carter (R-Texas) introduced similar legislation (H.R.367) in the House.
The act would remove suppressors from regulation under the National Firearms Act, which would greatly reduce the present approval waiting times, and eliminate the $200 tax stamp requirement. Consumers would be required to undergo a standard NICS background check to purchase a suppressor.
“I’m very active in sport shooting and hunting, and I can’t tell you how better off the shooting sports enthusiasts would be if we had easier access to suppressors to help protect our hearing,” Duncan said.
Another sales booster: if enacted into law, sales of suppressors will reach the “very hot” level. Numerous manufacturers already offer suppressors, with more introduced this year, providing instant availability for consumers. Relaxing suppressor restrictions will also greatly impact ranges, especially range development in areas presently “off limits” because of the noise factor. A special salute goes to the American Suppressor Association for its educational campaigns, which continue to play a major role in championing this issue.
Feb. 1, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) sponsored the Target and Marksmanship Training Support Act of 2017 (H.R.788), which would facilitate the establishment of additional or expanded public target ranges in certain states.
“This legislation would provide state fish and game agencies more flexibility to use Pittman Robertson excise tax dollars raised from the sale of firearms and ammunition to enhance existing public shooting ranges and to build new ones to meet the growing need for additional places for target shooters to participate in their sport,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior VP and general counsel.
The effect on sales is obvious. Within the top five reasons for impeding sales and growing the market is “lack of places to shoot.” More available ranges means more consumers and more products sold.
The legislation also limits frivolous lawsuits that might result from the use of federal land for target practice, and encourages federal agencies to cooperate with state and local authorities for maintenance of ranges on federal lands.
Remarkably, these initiatives — Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, Hearing Protection Act of 2017 and Target and Marksmanship Training Support Act of 2017 — are all reintroductions of past legislation. For numerous reasons, they stalled in Congress. This year, with a pro-gun White House and strong pro-gun majorities in the Senate and House, this is the year to advance these initiatives and others that will further strengthen the industry.
“With the new administration comes increased opportunity to enact pro-sportsmen legislation, and we cannot afford to stand on the sidelines,” said Keene, in promoting the 2017 NSSF Congressional Fly-In this month on Capitol Hill, adding: “Our legislative priorities are too important for Congress to ignore.”
To learn about initiatives important to the industry and how you can get involved, visit www.nssf.org/gov.